Impact = Intention
OK, SWOG Lady…what in heavens name do you mean by that heading? Well, I’m so glad you asked!!
I was sitting in a webinar about a week ago and it was on coaching people in a certain stage of development. The instructor–a really cool SWOG herself–said that so often our impact does not equal our intention and that is a great area for examination and continued development.
I love that equation. Yes, we’re human. So, this will likely be the case more frequently than we ideally would like. After all, there aren’t many people that circle in our worlds that start out with bad intentions. Most people don’t get up in the morning and say, “How can I really mess up people’s days today?” At least, I would like to hope we all bound out of bed hoping to do more good than harm. And, yet, there’s a lot of difficult stuff happening in our world and our lives.
If our intentions are good, the next question becomes, “Do our behaviors and outcomes match or equal our intentions?” And if they do not equate, then what is getting in the way?
I’m spending a lot of time on this one. It’s tricky. Sometimes you can control your impact and sometimes you can’t–after all, how a message from you gets received by the recipient depends so much on their filters at that particular time. But, I think more often than we suspect possible, we can get our intentions and our impact more closely aligned with one another.
How you ask?
Oh, I’m so very glad you did!!
First of all, I’m still working on staying curious not judgmental…so I want to say right up front…I don’t have the magic answers but I’m very willing to embark upon the discussion. Most of you have read that I’m trying to meditate regularly and I’ve been using Oprah and Deepak Chopra’s 21-Meditation series. I’m almost concluded with one on “Hope,” and it has some clues to our question posed above. Here are some tidbits of wisdom from the series:
- To reach people to share the energy of HOPE, you have to do more than just listen to them, you have to SEE them. We all want to be seen and heard. We all want validation. When people are validated, they know you see them, you hear them and what they’re saying means something to you. They feel like they’re not alone and that they matter. That is the deepest reality, the deepest desire we all share–is to matter. That’s the way to make HOPE real–for anyone in your world–make them matter.
- The feeling level is all important. Just as people detect when they are being judged, they also detect when they are accepted. Don’t try to help someone if you feel you are angry, disappointed or ashamed. Work on yourself first.
- Getting to a place where you accept and welcome the other person’s existence, then you will create a heart-to-heart bond at the level of feeling. This bond can work miracles because it takes down barriers of distrust, defensiveness, guilt and shame.
- Realistically, every relationship gets tangled up in the past, making it hard to relate without judgment toward someone else. Especially in families–there’s a tendency to put people in a box–believing they will never change. But consider how much you want to escape the box you’ve been put in. Everyone has that feeling because everyone wants more freedom to be themselves.
- When you allow that yearning of freedom in someone else, you can recognize how much you feel the same way and then ego doesn’t block your view. You genuinely hope for the best in every situation no matter what happened in the past.
- Staying in present moment awareness is simply conscious experience without the mind’s analysis or conceptualization (or judgment) including thoughts and feelings about the past and the future. In any situation, allow yourself to be present to the experience without mental analysis and interpretation. And you will find that you naturally drop the belief that you know what is best for someone else.
When our impact doesn’t equal our intentions, so often we missed the mark through our communication. We pre-judge what someone is going to say or what they should do or what we hope they will do. We don’t meet them with open minds. We don’t stay in the present moment with a spirit of curiosity instead of pre-set expectations. We don’t meet them where they are. Why are we having difficulty having political discussions? We’re so entrenched in our own views and biases about the “way things should be” we have difficulty listening with an open, non-judgmental mind.
And think of all the labels we use to pre-judge others: Democrats, Liberals, Republicans, Conservatives, Felons, Christians, Muslims, Atheists, Refugees, Foreigners, Working Class, College-Educated, Veterans and the list goes on and on. When you hear those labels, can’t you just hear your mind beginning it’s mental gymnastics and assessments?
I dare you to…!
Here’s a challenge for you: take one day and a piece of notebook paper. Be an observer of your mind. Note how many times you pre-judge a situation based on who you’re dealing with or who you hear about through the news or conversations. At the end of the day note how much opportunity you have for changing your impact on people and outcomes.
And when someone doesn’t treat you with that same open mind as is bound to happen…well, that’s where grace comes in. 🙂
There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. ~William Shakespeare