I watched a video this week on human behavior that showed a well-dressed man on the street trying to give money away to people.
He literally stopped them and asked if they wanted a $5 dollar bill. If they said no, he upped the offer to $10, and then $20.
By far, people said no and walked on.
Why would that be?
The answer is that the people on the street didn’t trust the man giving away money.
I mean, normal people don’t act that way, right?
It goes to the other half of character – intent.
Last week I wrote about character being composed of your integrity and intent, and took a deep dive into integrity.
This week, it’s all about intent.
Intent is defined as a determination to perform a particular act for a specific reason.
In his book, Leading at the Speed of Trust, Stephen M.R. Covey says that intent is made up of your motive, your agenda, and your behavior.
Suppose Billy calls Susie names and Susie throws a snowball at him. Susie’s intent is to hit Billy with the snowball. Her motive is to stop the taunts, her agenda (one can presume) is to stop Billy and not get in trouble herself, and her behavior is to let the snowball fly.
To have good intent, Covey says, a person must have a motive of genuine caring, an agenda of finding a mutually satisfying outcome, and behaviors that are in the best interests of everyone.
Let’s look at some practical tips on how to improve your intent.
Examine your motives. Ask yourself “why” several times until you get to the real reason behind something you want to do. Make sure that it isn’t only self-interest that’s motivating you.
Choose abundance. Believe that there are enough rewards, credit, recognition and benefits for everyone to feel satisfied.
Declare your intent. Choose the intent that will serve everyone best (including you!) and then actually TELL people it! Don’t let your intent be unclear because someone will misinterpret it negatively. It’s human nature. No seriously, it is human nature. This served us well as an evolutionary tool for survival, but it does not serve us well today.
An example of that third point is an argument I once had with my son about doing his own laundry. We would go back and forth for days – after all, he would be knee–deep in dirty clothes in his bedroom! Finally, I told him that it was my intent to raise a son that some woman might someday want to live with or marry. And women didn’t want to live with or marry slobs who they constantly had to pick up after.
While he didn’t immediately and forever toe the line, I think it helped to declare my intent. He probably assumed my intent was to be a control freak and feed my deep inner need to yell at teenagers. He needed to know that I had a bigger picture in mind.
So who do you need to point out your intentions to this week?
Leaving you with this from the lighter side: I accidentally went grocery shopping on an empty stomach and now I am the proud owner of Aisle 4.