The Power of Focused & Specific Intent
What is focused intent? Why is it so important even when our lives and careers seem to make little sense? Leslie Juvin-Acker explores the value of focused intent and how to use it on the short and long term.
The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he is always doing both. - L.P. Jacks.
This is one of my favorite quotes. I read it in college and the words have always stuck with me like a mantra or a mandate. Between going to school full time and working my way through college, I made the decision to do everything I was doing with a sort of vigilance that bordered on the obsessive. I never knew what or how things were going to result from my work. All I knew is that if I did my very best and if I never gave up on myself, then things could only present themselves to me for my highest good. For me, this is what I call focused intent.
Years have gone by and this quote still serves me as a reminder to never get caught up in the mire of the small details. The details being dramas, fights, disappointments and the myriad of other circumstances that could potentially detract from our focus. Focusing on the details of the things that matter most like a simple hello, a kind embrace, and the friendly interactions is what gives our intention power. Shifting our gazes elsewhere lessens the power of our mental force and physical power to choose wisely.
Imagine walking down a great, long hall full of doors. Which one do you choose? You can feel one in particular calling to you with an odd sense of vibration, movement, or noise coming from behind it. Out of curiosity you follow it, reaching the door, putting your hand upon the handle and turning it to see what’s inside. Inside is a scenario of your choosing. What is inside is totally up to you, but it’s that strange pull you can’t explain. Why did I go to this door? Why did I feel so inclined to go through it?
This is what it feels like to focus our actions on our seemingly inexplicable passions and desires. We all focus on something - subconsciously or consciously - and we act upon it as if compelled by a strange force. Gathering what we know about ourselves, it’s important to recognize one factor in our decision making process: even if we are being pulled to do something, we can choose whether or not we do it - and the quality by which it is done. And such is why so many of us fail to answer the calling of our soul’s purpose - or, that professional calling - that asks of us to do something about this powerful drive that lies dormant within us.
Going back to L.P. Jacks: I didn’t know why I was doing so much of what I was doing throughout my career. I just felt I had to do it all and I made the choice to commit to it despite this apparent lack of insight and information. Looking back at all of the critical moments of my life thus far, I finally understand so many of the reasons that explain their value. I’m just glad that in just about everything I did, I made the commitment to do my best and I did my work well.
So, if you’re unsure about your professional career thus far, and maybe it looks like a hodge podge of experiences that don’t seem to make much sense, then look back at the attitudes you held throughout the journey. These attitudes will reveal your intent and through this intent your values and core beliefs will be revealed.
This is how I help my clients reverse engineer their professional experiences when working on their resume or retelling/creating their brand story. While the devil may be in the details, the intent of our actions always operates from a more elevated, enlightened perspective - whether we believe it or not. As I said before, from my experience of coaching hundreds of people in the last year alone, we are all compelled to do something that seems to escape our understanding most of the time. When going back and looking at the intent and the focus of our work, there always seems to be an explanation for those who are conscious enough to recognize the patterns.
The question now is, what is your vision of excellence? What are you saying with what you do? Even if what you’re doing doesn’t seem to have a clear endgoal or game strategy. Imagining if everything did add up - and it always does - what would your consistency say about you? Nobody can hold us accountable more than our own selves; we have to be honest with ourselves if we’re going to be willing to grow. Going forward, ask yourself, “Am I doing this (even if I don’t believe this experience has any value) to the best of my abilities?” If the answer is no, then re-examine your intent.
It’s not what we get out of our experiences that determines what we put in - it’s what we put into our experiences that determines what we get out of them. Intention, when examined further, means to design. Our attitudes design our experiences and the results are the consequences of our attitudes played out through our actions. So, at the end of the day, what we get out of the experiences doesn’t matter as much as the process by which we design them. In layman's terms: the means matter much more than the ends.
So, when you go into “designing” your career, don’t get hung up on having it exactly as you think it’ll play out. Go into the game with a focused intent of your personal vision of excellence and let that drive your choices. Sure, you’ll feel compelled to do something, but it’s your choice to do it with intention or not. Trust that the results will play out in the best interests for all involved and most certainly for your highest good. Your awareness in the moment will help you decide what is best for you.
Coach Leslie Juvin-Acker’s Questions To Ask Ourselves:
1. How many times have I looked back at my career with a sense of understanding that I didn’t have at the time of the experience? What made the difference? What values can I thank myself for committing to?
2. Do I commit to my different roles with the intent of personal excellence? Why? Why not? What are the stories I tell myself to stop me from doing my very best?
3. Am I consistent in my focus and in my intentions? At what moments have I observed myself falling short of my values? What can my choices reveal about my subconscious intentions?
4. Have I ever went through a trying or confusing professional period in my life, but look back with a sense of understanding as to why I needed to go through at experience? What can that period and the results tell me?
5. Do I get caught up in drama, petty fights, and in my own ego? How does that detract from my focus? What positive behaviors enhance my sense of intention or purpose in my career?