Intentionality: The Hidden Force that Empowers Our Bolder Leadership Vision

“Our intentions create our reality.”
– Wayne Dyer

With winds that usher in a change of seasons, the month of March symbolizes a time of transformation for many people in some parts of our world.

For most of us, it seems like the fresh newness of spring and all of the hope it brings may never arrive, as distracting, gusty winds – much like the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world we live in – blow around and through us.

Likewise, the swirling winds in our own lives brought about by the many knock-on effects of Covid, the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, the heartbreaking earthquake in Turkey and Syria and a souring economy may sometimes roar about and knock us off course (or at least, distract us) from our goals.

How to remain steady and confident in the face of this chaos? It may be easier than you think: follow a simple formula which my teacher passed on to me:

Intention + Attention = Results

Start by getting clear on what you want to create.

No matter how great intentions – and their impact – might be, there is one ingredient essential to making those intentions stick:


Clarity on what it is we really want. Not what we think we want or think we should want (to get that job or be accepted by that group of people, etc.). But what we genuinely, in the depths of us, want. Because here’s the thing: intention is all about energy. So, if there is some part of us that is not fully on board with what we say we want, that intention is not really an intention. It’s a mere hope.

Take, for example, the case of Anne, VP at a tech company. Anne wanted to be a published author because she wanted to add another point to her resume. But she really didn’t like writing and saw no way being published furthered her purpose in the world. Her head was in it, but her heart wasn’t. So guess what happened? You got it. Missing the fuel of inspiration, she ran out of steam midway through and ended up unpublished.

It’s important to note here that even if she had pushed herself beyond her limits and gotten published, it still would not have fulfilled her because her heart was not in it. Any of us who has achieved a lot of “things” in our lives and yet still find ourselves dissatisfied can surely relate to that.

Knowing Your Why

That’s why knowing our why – and living accordingly- is so important to our joy, our productivity and our impact.

The good news is that Anne could take the opportunity of this upset to understand what her heart really did care about – and then begin setting intentions toward that.

For our intention to have the full force of landing us on our vision, we need to be fully behind it. We need to understand the helicopter view for ourselves, how that fulfilled intention fits into our values, our purpose, our overall vision. How that fulfilled intention fits into our Why. And for many of us, that takes a fairly high level of self-awareness.

What does this mean? It means we need to shed the layers of protection many of us try to protect ourselves with and get in touch with our truer selves.

“There’s little doubt that clarity of intent sheds light on the path ahead even if it isn’t clearly visible,” writes Vineet Nayar in an HBR article fittingly titled, “The Power of Intent.”

Then leverage the power of choice…

“When people have the capacity to choose, they have the capacity to change.”
-Madeleine Albright

Sometimes we feel as if we have no choices in life.

And with the sad and scary events named above (among many others) plaguing our world and affecting our daily lives, who could blame us?

But the truth is, we do have the power to choose some things – like our mindsets, how we take care of ourselves and how we treat other people. So, we get to have an impact on relationships – no matter what is going on. And given that Relationships precede Results (one my favorite leadership tenets), that’s already quite a lot after all.

Indeed, we always have the power to choose our attitudes and our behavior. That’s what makes self-awareness – and the clarity that comes from it – so powerful: it allows us to understand who and how we are now so we can choose how we want to be. Intentionality – and our attention on what we want to create – is what bridges the two.

So, what is it you choose to manifest? In other words, what is your intention?

This can be answered for each relationship or conversation or our career as a whole, or just a meeting. Anything. The main thing is that we are aware and can choose what it is we want to create – and why.

And then that we go about giving attention to our intention.

Intention and Attention: A Foundation for Success

Pay attention to your intention:

“Choose your intention carefully and then practice holding your consciousness to it,
so it becomes the guiding light in your life.”
– Roger Delano Hinkins

It would be a wonderful world indeed if all we had to do was wish for something and then wait in lotus position for it to arrive. Well, of course, we can always wait for it to arrive, but without attention to what it is we want to create, we might very well be waiting a long, long time – lol.

We might have an intention to get promoted, for example. But if we don’t up our game by expanding our network, building a new client or becoming more of an expert in our field, our promotion ambitions may likely go up in smoke.

But not so when we meet our intention with attention to help it come true.

HealthyPsych highlights the relationship of intention and attention. Our own personal traits play a role in intention, too, noting that our built-in negativity bias requires us to make a more concerted effort to set our intentions and pay attention.

Intention, the author notes, is not about rubbing a genie bottle and making a wish:

“Intention is about choosing, over and over again, where to direct your precious attention.”

Attention gives movement and direction to our intention so that it doesn’t stay stuck on a metaphorical shelf somewhere, but actually begins happening for us and our leadership.

“Attention is … powerful: it generates thinking. It is an act of creation.”
– Nancy Klein

And, we gotta admit, that’s kinda cool – right? I mean, with all the multitude of things we are powerless over in this crazy world, here’s one sure bet of something we can definitely influence.

So why not go for it?

During the sometimes (maybe always?!) crazy, frenzied day, where we literally run from task to task, all it takes is a moment to…

Set an intention and give it your attention.

The rewards are momentous. In addition to actually helping us get what we really want, it also creates a sense of empowerment, ownership, and inspiration for us.

In business – and in life – we may not have the answers in front of us, but by sticking to our intentions and giving our attention to them, it creates a powerhouse to build upon.

A simple act with a ripple effect of positivity

What seems like such a simple act of choice is even so much more: it is a positive act for us, and it can ripple outward to impact others around us, too.

Just imagine the times when you have felt happy, how much did your optimism impact the mood of those around you? That’s what we’re talking about here. You can do it. You can give yourself the solid hope and the brighter future that comes from setting intentions and giving those intentions your attention.

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