In my Communication courses, we always spend some time talking about intentions. I usually get some mixed reactions to this: some people seem to really latch onto the idea, while others seem wary of it.
I love teaching about intention though, and bring it up two to three times throughout the course. (I’ll spend some time specifically talking about how intention affects our communication in another post.) The reason I love teaching it so much is because every time I do it’s a new lesson for me. (One it sometimes seems I need to learn over and over!) It’s so easy for us to let outside influences, how much sleep we got, negative expectations, etc. affect how we approach situations. But we don’t have to. We always have the option to assess, and to focus our intentions.
One of my mentors expressed it this way, and I express it the same way to the participants in my classes: Our thoughts form our intentions, our intentions shape our choices, our choices create the results we get in life.
It’s all about being aware of our thoughts and molding them to form a positive intention.
Think of the last time something didn’t go quite so well in your life – maybe you had a discussion with your colleague or spouse that blew up into a full fledged argument. Maybe you failed miserably at some goal you had set for yourself. Now, be honest – what was intention going into it?
Were you entering that discussion with the hope of coming to a solution that would work for both of you? Or were you determined to make the other person see your point of view, were you determined to come out on top? Did you go in thinking the conversation was likely to fail?
Now, what about that project or goal – analyze the thoughts you had about it. How did they inform your intentions, what choices did you make because of those thoughts and intentions – could your results have been different if your thoughts, intentions, and choices were different?
I had a great learning lesson myself just two weeks after I taught a section on intention. The previous week our class numbers had been low, and that had been difficult. It’s hard to break up into group activities when only three people show up! The morning before the next class I was worried about low numbers again, scared that I’d not be able to still make the class work, frustrated about the possibility of having to fill people in the following week on what they’d missed, without making those who were there feel like I was wasting their time. Basically, I was a grump. Just minutes before the class began though, I started thinking about intention and analyzing my thoughts. With the thoughts I’d been having, honestly, my intention was to just get through the class and go home.
I needed to change this. I decided to choose to teach the course with energy and interest. I decided to do my utmost to help those who did show up on this hot mid-summer day get the absolute most out of the course. When only three people did show up, I kept to my intentions and, amazingly, the class sped by. The discussions were enlightened, the participants dug deeper than I’d ever seen them dig, and real growth was happening. As they were leaving, I even overheard the participants discussing how beneficial the class had been.
It’s always interesting when the teacher becomes the student. I love seeing what I strive to teach others become a lesson in my own life and I’m daily working to asses my thoughts and create better intentions.