Producing Results Blog

The One Thing Better Than Good Intentions

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I was talking to a colleague earlier this week. Like me, she runs her own business. She told me that one of her “beginning-of-the-year” practices is to sit down in a quiet place, with a cup of coffee and a pad of paper, and write down her intentions for the new year. She sets intentions in several areas of her business: income, number of clients, marketing strategies, and others.

Sounds good, right? Making intentions, and setting them down on paper, is a strong way to start the year.

But there’s something better than intentions.

Decisions.

Intentions are good; decisions are better. Here’s why.

Intentions connote hope. Decisions connote action.

Intentions are good; decisions are better. #ProducingResults Click To Tweet

Try these two sentences on for size. Say them out loud. See if you don’t feel a difference.

  1. “I’ve set an intention to earn an additional $100,000 this year.”
  2. “I’ve made a decision to earn an additional $100,000 this year.”

If you’re like me (at least in this one, limited way), the second sentence feels more powerful. Here’s how I translate those two sentences:

  1. “I’m hoping to earn an additional $100,000 this year.”
  2. “I have a plan to earn an additional $100,000 this year.”

Now, all of this may sound like I’m being ridiculously picky. That may be, but I believe that specific words have specific meanings. Why is this important? Because of this sequence:

  1. Our words govern our thoughts.
  2. Our thoughts govern our actions.
  3. Our actions govern our results.

So if you start out with a weak word, you end up with a weak result (or no result, which is actually a result).

If you start out with a weak word, you end up with a weak result. #Leadership Click To Tweet

Last year, I intended to drink more water. Guess how that went. (Hint: not well.) This year, however, I’ve made a decision to drink more water. I bought a journal that has a section to log my water consumption. The very first thing I do each morning upon getting out of bed is, drink two 8-ounce glasses of water. What’s the difference between last year and this year? I made a decision, which to me implies a promise. Because of the strength of that word, I subsequently made a plan, and am taking action.

Think about it this way: As a leader, is your job to make intentions—or to make decisions? Which one carries more weight with your team?

As a #leader, is your job to make intentions—or to make decisions? #Leadership Click To Tweet

My colleague wants her business to grow this year. And it probably will, because she’s very good at what she does. But I think she’d be even better served by being more precise with her words.

As a leader, you’re probably already careful with the words you choose when you’re communicating with your team. I urge you to be equally careful with the words you use with yourself.

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About the Author:

For 15 years, Executive Producer Bill Stainton, CSP led his team to more than 100 Emmy Awards and 10 straight years of #1 ratings. Today Bill helps leaders achieve those kinds of results--in THEIR world and with THEIR teams.
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