Best Intentions

August 16, 2010 by
Filed under: Leadership, People, Quality 

We’ve all been in situations where we find ourselves slogging through our work, and the focus (if there is any focus at all) is to get the work done, rather than get it done well. Certainly household chores can fall into that category, and around the office there are similar activities like month-end reporting that can feel more like drudgery than uplifting activity. It becomes easy to find excuses for not getting the work done, procrastination becomes an art form, and while the result might pass muster, it certainly isn’t a masterpiece. When the core work we do starts to feel this way, when we just want it done and over with, it’s time to rethink what’s going on.

In an ideal world, everything we do would be a source of energy and fulfillment, and each new activity could easily be embraced with with vigour and excitement. I don’t know anyone whose life is filled with stuff like that, though I do know a few people who regularly behave as though that is the case. The difference, I believe, is the intentions we carry with us in the work we do. With the right frame of mind, any task can become a positive experience, even if that positive is that the task is now completed and behind you.

It is useful to think of every act throughout the day as something you can approach as a craft. Anything we do can be done adequately, or superbly, or anywhere in between. We can choose our target level of quality, and if we don’t consciously make that choice, the default might not be all that impressive.

We can complete this week’s status report by cutting and pasting from last week and changing a few numbers just to get it done, or we can take the time to provide insightful information, reflection on what worked well, what challenges were faced, and strong intentions for the following week. We can get our code to simply compile and send it along for others to test, or we can sit down and ensure that what we have produced actually meets or exceeds the needs of the client. Which way we go is driven by time constraints to some degree (though less than we might think on the surface), but I believe it is driven far more by choice. By our intentions.

By choosing a path with good intentions, everything we do comes out better. If the intent is good and the requisite skills are there as well, the results can be truly remarkable. Regardless of the skill level though, without the intent, well…we might get the work done, but we’re not going to amaze anyone.

Why am I writing this entry right now? What is my intention?

My intention is to kickstart this blogging after too long a hiatus – perhaps you have noticed a gap. I want to get back to a state where writing can be an effective way for me to explore thoughts, to extrapolate on situations I have experienced, to resolve challenges that I face. I need writing to be energizing and enlightening and fun for me again – and hopefully thought-provoking and entertaining for you as well.

It hasn’t been that way for a while now. I recently went through a stage where I needed to produce a lot of words in an impossible schedule. It felt at times like I was trying to get that last bit of toothpaste out of the tube, for weeks on end. When we finally wrapped up, I was done writing, I had had enough. For weeks I would sit down with an idea, and it would sit right there, unfinished.

That’s all about to change. I have renewed intentions.

Consider the activities that fill your day right now. Where can you improve your intentions so that the dreaded tasks become comfortable again, so that you can marry better intentions with your skills and really produce something great? What can you do to amaze people? – JB


One Response to “Best Intentions”

  1. Roger on August 17th, 2010 10:42 am

    Great Jim – I’ve always enjoyed your blog and look forward to reading more!


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