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:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
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