In Richard Branson's recent blog article, he wrote, "A day without intention is a day wasted.... without intention there can be no productivity, and in turn, no success."
The fact of the matter is intent drives actions. Intent gives the motive force for people to get things done. This turns into commitment, and with commitment comes providence, so says W.H. Murray,
"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too."
The power of intention therefore opens up for us a kind of mystic force that propels us beyond our human confines, making us more productive, more driven, more successful. In his blog, Branson offers five ways he uses to be purpose-driven:
(1) Start each day fresh
Each new day presents new hopes, new challenges, new dreams to be fulfilled.Each day is an opportunity to make things happen, and with intent, you drive towards greater fulfilment. Treat each day as a clean slate, a chance to move towards your intention, no matter where you are at, and no matter what happened yesterday. As Khalil Gibran once said, "Yesterday is but a dream and tomorrow is only a vision, but today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope." Live today with the intent to be your very best.
(2) Write it down
Branson is a fan of writing, and when you read his biography, you know it started because he was dyslexic, and he had to overcome his learning disabilities through a lot of hard work. Writing things down became his means. So if it helps dylexics do better, what more can it do for normal people? Writing your intention down is a way to keep you focused on what you need to do, and then get them done. (PS, it does not have to be on paper, as mentioned by Branson. There are other cloud-based tools that allow you to write it down, and keep it top of mind. However, there is no simpler method than simply writing it down on paper.)
(3) Use your time wisely
This goes without saying; to be fruitful, to be purposeful, to be intentional, you cannot allow your precious time to whittle away. This is not to say that you cannot have any down time, or some me time; that is extremely important and should also be a part of your intention. But ensure that you have a proper balance of me-time and work-time. And, as shared by Branson, if you have to awaken earlier each day to get in some much-needed exercise before the start of a hectic day, then do that.
(4) Think ahead
Well, that's what intentions are for, isn't it? Intentions are future-focused and when you are creating solutions for the future, you translate actions for today that make that happen. As Branson says, there is no point in living in the past, because, there is nothing that we can do about it. We must learn to accept it, and move on. Intentions help us get past the inertia of yesterday and onto the power of tomorrow, reminding us once more of Gibran's quotation above.
(5) Make it fun
It will not be a Branson list if "fun" is not in it. One of Branson's personal values is to have fun. If something is not fun, he will not do it. If something started out fun, but degenerated into a pain, he will let it go. For example, Branson sold off Virgin Music even when it was highly successful because it started becoming too bureaucratic and it was no longer fun. That plus the fact that Virgin Airlines was bleeding a lot of cash, and needed the money from the sale of Virgin Music to stay afloat. Hence, he traded a less fun, profitable entity for a more fun, loss entity. Today, Virgin Airlines has split to become Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia, and more importantly, Virgin Galactic. And it has been one big journey of fun!
And what about you? How do you harness the power of intent? Let me end off with a couple more ideas that leaders can embrace to be more intent-focused
(6) Get to the root of decisions
A leader's life is one of choices in response to a "problem" (I put the word within inverted commas because not all problems are truly problems, but I shall not go there at this point in time). One of the main jobs that leaders do is to solve problems, often complex ones. Many a times, they jump into the problem feet first, sussing out the issues, and coming up with the solution. These are usually solutions in response to the problem, but not necessarily in response to the intent. Instead of doing that, why not take a step back? Dive deeper into the reasons why the decision is important. Notice I said why it is important and not why you want to make the decision. This difference allows you to really be clear about your intent, and once you know what exactly you are trying to achieve, then you can identify all the hindrances to the outcome, and develop the solutions.
(7) Identify success metrics
Having clarified your intent, you need to back it up with success metrics. For example, if your main intent is to grow new customers to your online shop through a social media marketing campaign, then you might identify the following success metrics:
a. set up of online marketing accounts in top three social media by today
b. running the online promotions for no more than $250 for four weeks
c. attract at least 10 new sign-ups a week
d. convert at least 10% of sign-ups into customers
Notice that each success metric frames the intent into specific outcomes that, taken together, will allow you to successfully achieve it. (They may seem like a to-do list, but each of them is a metric for success that allows you to celebrate your actions, and keep you motivated along the journey towards your intent.) Without such specificity, an intent just floats in the air, not really having much substance. But once you are able to nail down your success metrics, you will be able to identify the route to take to get there.
Become wildly successful
Intent has a profound power that leads to commitment to success. If you have not used it, start today with these ideas. The better you become at identifying intent, framing them with success metrics, and using each day as a fresh clean slate to achieving such intent, and making it fun while you are at it, not only will you be profoundly productive, but you will also be wildly successful. Now who doesn't want that?