On being intentional


Many years ago, I was backing up the car while speaking on the phone with a businessman friend asking for advice. I am not sure whether the advice I gave was sound, but when I heard my car hitting a part of the garage door, I knew that was not a sound I would like to hear. That ugly crunchy sound meant something wrong had happened. Getting out of the car, I saw that deep scratch and dent, and I reflected on what had just happened. I thought I was good at doing different things simultaneously and saving myself a lot of time. Instead, what happened cost me a lot of money because I was not intentional.

“Intentionality” has been taught and preached everywhere. We sense that the virtues of intentionality enhance our impact and productivity in our work or personal lives.

Looking back over the years of my personal and professional life, I have grown to be remarkably efficient. I was moving at breakneck speed by running my businesses, leading people, doing hundreds of public speaking engagements, and providing training every year. Now that I am in my senior years, it took me this long to realize that I could be exhausted and depleted if I persist in maintaining the same performance scale. The more I need to practice intentionality.

Intentionality involves both action and clarity. To be intentional, you and I need to build a habit of reflection into our daily routines. It’s just not doing stuff, even though the results may have turned out spectacular. It is all about viewing and reviewing decisions and actions through the lens of what will result in the most significant long-term positive impact. Intentional people are holistically productive because they do not waste action and energy. Intentional people say no to the non-essentials. They do this because they practice deep reflection and thinking about what is truly important in their interwoven work and personal lives. The practice of intentionality develops over time. It involves constant discernment that takes in new data daily and strategizes activities that can make incremental improvements. Daily lessons are learned and integrated. Periodic review and elimination of suitable actions to be replaced by higher-value ones are included in the strategy as well.

As a leader, my team and my business outcomes depend on the soundness of my decisions. I cannot afford to do things mindlessly, thinking that doing more is better.

The following thought filters help. Perhaps you may find it helpful if you want to develop intentionality.

1.When I was at my best, what did I do, and why?

This reflection allows us to recognize our strengths. The question of “when” may reveal a pattern or a daily time frame that optimizes our efficiency and joy. For example, I find that I am at my best in the beginning hours of doing daily “quiet time” as I meditate on the Scriptures and pray. Then I do creative writing and prepare new lesson materials. The “why” part of this has been clear. Since my professional career started, I have always wanted to learn and research positive life-changing experiences and ideas so I can share them with as many people as possible.

2.When was my lowest moment, what caused this and why?

We can get feedback from life on what works and what does not. Unrest and a bothersome spirit indicate that I must make adjustments. Perhaps there is an unfulfilled commitment. Maybe I took on work outside my area of skill, experience, and competence, and I did not perform at my optimum level. Perhaps I have unintentionally offended people, and I need to make amends intentionally, and I have not yet done so. Intentional people pay attention to internal cues that may signal to us that there are things that must be addressed.

3. How do I do and be better?

We can now be remarkably clear about what matters most. We now commit to making adjustments. This would be the step that closes out the feedback loop that sets us on a virtuous cycle of daily growth and iteration.

A preacher I know preached a lot on “intentionality.” He tried to convince me to be more involved with his church’s activities. I politely declined and said I was clear about my activities. I stick to my plans and do not want to disrupt them. He asked: “You have always been very strategic, haven’t you?” My response was, “Of course. Is there another way?” And he respected my decision because, after all, the question came after he preached another message on “intentionality.”



(The next Level Up Leadership 2.0 Master Class Online will happen this Sept. 27-29. For inquiries and reservations, contact April at +63928-559-1798 or and for more information, visit www.levelupleadership.ph)

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