I had no choice…

It’s not intellectually honest to say, “I didn’t have a choice”.

Saying that you didn’t have a choice is just an excuse.

The truth is, we always have a choice!

The real issue is what did you do with your choice. In other words, what actions did you take as a result of your choices?

Take Ownership

The truly honest thing is to own your choices, own your actions, and own the consequences that resulted from them.

Maybe that is also a good way to explain what wisdom is…taking ownership and directing actions in line with better choices.

I believe the concept of ownership together with the practice of intentionality determine the depth and growth of our wisdom.

Ownership seems like a straight-forward concept, although ego and invulnerability often keep us from taking ownership of our choices, actions, and the resulting consequences.

Take Action

Intentionality, however, is a word you don’t hear much. That’s unfortunate because it represents a very powerful principle. People often talk about their intentions, but intentionality and intention are not the same. Even good intentions can be deceiving. Samuel Johnson (not Samuel Jackson, the actor) went as far as to say, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

My father-in-law used to tell me a story about three frogs on a log. He said that there were three frogs on a log and one decided to jump off. How many frogs were left on the log?

This is not a test to see if you are smarter than a first grader, nor to test your math skills. This is, however, a test of your understanding of the concept of intentionality. You see, decisions are similar to intentions. Decisions and intentions without action amount to nothing. In other words, regardless of whether the frog decided to jump or not, the issue is whether the frog followed through and actually jumped. Without action, there would still be three frogs on the log.

A Seinfeld Episode for Every Situation

Our family are big Seinfeld fans. It seems there is a Seinfeld episode for every situation in life. Who would have imagined that a show about “nothing” could have so much insight into life? Anyway, in one of the episodes, Kramer, after he makes his usual grand entrance into Jerry’s apartment, announces that he has decided to build levels in his apartment. Knowing Kramer’s erratic personality Jerry promptly rebuts him with, “no you won’t!”

A debate ensues where Kramer argues that he will build the levels and Jerry keeps denying that he will actually do it. Jerry challenges him to put money where his mouth is and Kramer agrees to a wager.

In a subsequent scene Jerry asks Kramer how his levels are coming and Kramer states that he decided not to build them after all. Jerry smiles and holds out his hand as a gesture for Kramer to pay up for losing the bet. Kramer refuses to pay and claims that he technically did not lose the bet because he could have built them if he wanted to. He just decided not to. Exasperated, Jerry says, “that’s exactly the point…the bet was about whether you would do it or not and you didn’t.”

The Intentionality Model

Intentionality is about having an intention, or making a decision, and taking action. It’s about thoughts and choices together with action. Here is a model that explains what intentionality is and how it is at the core of every great endeavor.

The model also shows how a lack of intentionality—having potentially good intentions, but taking the action—is ultimately at the core of failure. 


If at First You Don’t Succeed

Abraham Lincoln said, “if you want to increase your rate of success increase your rate of failure.” I agree with this statement and see no contradiction with the Intentionality model. You see, every action has an effect. If our action does not produce the effect we intended it is referred to as failure. In reality, however, failure is simply feedback—feedback that our action did not produce the desired result. The challenge and opportunity boils down to whether we do something with that valuable feedback.

Physics suggests that if we keep doing what we did we will keep getting what we got—an unfavorable result. Hence, it is incumbent upon us to change something. However, without taking ownership of our actions we deny ourselves the benefit of the feedback we need to make necessary course corrections. In the process, we doom ourselves to keep repeating the same actions and continuing down the path of failure.

I was an avid skier growing up in Vancouver, British Columbia, and we used to say that if you don’t fall it’s hard to become a better skier. You see, people tend to fall when they embark on new things and push the boundaries of their abilities. But just because you fall does not mean that you have to stay down. To get better get up, dust yourself off, and try again…while learning from what made you fall. And eventually you get better.

The Seven Simple Steps of Intentionality

Practice the following seven simple steps of intentionality for guaranteed results:

  1. Make a plan. Be specific about the result you ultimately want, the steps you will take, and the result you anticipate [aka goal] by taking these steps.
  2. Set check-points. Check-points are interim time intervals at which you measure the results of your actions and compare those results to the goal. A good rule of thumb is to set check-points at intervals which are between 10-25% of the overall time anticipated.
  3. Execute the plan. In other words, take action in line with your plan.
  4. Measure progress at the first check-point. After an appropriate amount of time evaluate the results from your actions and match those against the results you anticipated.
  5. Make adjustments. If the actual results are not in line with the anticipated result re-evaluate the plan and adjust. It is said that the trajectory of a rocket is only correct for first 5% of the journey. After that it is all about make course corrections or adjustments.
  6. Execute the revised plan.
  7. Repeat steps 4, 5, and 6 until your goal is achieved.

I invite you to join me at Digital Dealer 24 Conference & Expo (April 10-12, 2018 in Orlando) for my session “The Power of Up-Care! Research Reveals Up-Care to Be 3x More Effective Than Up-Sell.”


Author: Herb K. Mast

Herb Mast is CEO of HealthyDEALER. As an executive coach he enables Dealers to achieve more of their potential through greater intentionality in the areas of leadership, culture, communication, teamwork, and organizational health. Additional insights, articles, and practical solutions are available at www.HealthyDEALER.com

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