Intention – there is something about this word. Just saying the word, intention, and sort of sounds like “in tension.” There could be something to this tension thing. Think about the times we are intent. Something has our attention. There’s a focus in an effort to accomplish something. Interesting the Latin origin, intentio, and means stretching purpose. We are stretching out and leaning toward something that has our attention. Recently I have been reading about Sheryl Sandberg’s concept of “leaning in” (thanks to my doc student for studying ideas and situations close to this meaning). Some of what she is talking about her is really a stretching purpose. Leaning into our purpose and stretching to create our purpose and get the job done. Using the word as an adjective to modify other words we find similar meanings to being very attentive, eager, waiting, strained. All of these seem to work for this word, and derivatives, intention (i.e., intentionality, intentional, intend).
How do you model intention or act with intentionality? There are probably different ways to look at how to be intentional. Some might call it prayer, meditating, chanting, focus, concentration. Our ability to create and be innovative always starts with a thought. We start to think about our goal or purpose. We start to ruminate or “play with the idea” to build something we want to accomplish. Our intentions can be seen as a goal, a purpose, aims, and vision.
Saying, “for all intents and purposes” starts to put this into action. We are constructing how to get moving and stretching our purpose into action. Getting to the point of moving toward our thoughts and ideas takes some initiative. Moving toward our goals and purpose can be tough. There might be some fear about stretching and leaning toward our intents and purposes. In his book, Tribes, Seth Godin says that initiative = happiness. I like it. It is simple and poignant. Doing something makes us happy. He also says later in the book, “If your organization requires success before commitment, it will never have either” (p. 132). Perhaps the directive, “just do it” is more than a slogan.
Two final quotes to help bring this home for now, I know I know what is the intent of this post…right? Thoreau said, “The price of anything is the amount of life that is exchanged for it.” What’s your intention? What purpose have you been thinking about? How can we create cause and effect and move from intents to purpose? The last quote was one I saw on the sign in front of the Edinburgh Jewish Center – “If I am not for myself, who is for me, but if I am for my own self [only], what am I? And if not now, when?” Thanks Rabbi Hillel for reminding us about our ability, the fact that ego is important, and don’t forget that we aren’t in this alone. Actions have reactions, and those matter too.
So, what does your intentional mind saying to you today? Where is your intentional mind guiding you? If not now then when?