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Impact or Intention?

Car_side_mirror_sunsetI intend to be conscientious and careful as back out of my narrow driveway multiple times of day. And although it’s daytime, and there is no radio, talking, texting or even anyone in the car, I’ve managed to swipe the driver’s side mirror off by the way too close proximity of my car to the chimney. Paying for a new driver’s side mirror is certainly a cost I didn’t intend to incur.

So as I signed my name on the credit card bill, I thought about how many times we have certain intentions for our actions, but it doesn’t come across that way to the other person. Our actions often have a different impact than our intent.

I think about a recent conversation I had with “Carol” who is taking on a new role which includes managing several products in a unique industry segment. She’s on a steep learning curve, and in her mind, she is doing whatever it takes to learn the processes, technical knowledge and build a couple of key internal relationships.  Carol possesses a proactive, tenacious attitude and gets very focused on accomplishing her goals. She excels with her ability to prioritize and block out things that get in her way.

Sound good? It does to Carol – her intent is to achieve.  However, ask her team about the impact of her approach and it’s very different from her intention. “Michael” said she is prone to tunnel vision and can become rigid when there is new information and a need to look at things from a different angle.  Her drive for results can stifle the collaboration needed in some of the complexities their team faces. That’s clearly not Carol’s intention.

How can we keep our intention aligned with the impact we want?  First of all, we can become more self-aware of the skills and behaviors we use to be successful. “What’ am I doing right now that’s working really well for me?”  We can then recognize those strengths that we’ve used to be successful may have another side to them. Our high standards for quality work may prevent us from delegating appropriately by holding on too tightly, or perhaps our skill with juggling so many balls may limit our ability to get still and focus on the few that matter most. Ask for feedback and look for openings to give the information needed to course correct. A bicycle works by making many adjustments and responding to the changes along the way.

If we shift perspectives and look at the situations when we too frequently judge others based only on the behaviors we see, opportunities are missed to see a bigger picture. Viewing through the lens of someone’s intent might change how we perceive others and offer a chance to draw a very different conclusion.

So, do you know how you are being perceived?  What is the impact of your strengths? Could one of your strengths or another behavior be keeping you stuck, or perhaps block other opportunities?  Would you like to find out?   If you do, reach out to me and I’d be happy to talk about this with you.