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The Intention of Intent: When Getting There Means Going There

What’s your approach to getting it done? Those things that you make happen, how are they different from all the others you think of in terms of “wouldn’t it be nice if…?” Understanding what differentiates those two is, in my opinion, one of the most important things to know about yourself. It illuminates that murky gap between intention and outcome, enabling recognition of what holds you back and ways you can overcome it.

Myself, I’m a classic failurephobe. And of course, denying fears by avoiding situations where they might be encountered only makes them stronger (known as negative reinforcement in psychology-speak). So I realise one of my biggest barriers to getting things done is summoning up the gumption to attempt them in the first place – and to keep with them even through repeated disappointment. Over the past several weeks, this lesson has been brought home to me frequently (and comically, for onlookers).

I recently started learning kung fu at this lovely little place in the Melbourne CBD (right next door to where we’re holding next week’s year-end celebration incidentally – you should pop in and check it out). I’m not exaggerating when I say that every class during my first six weeks was an exercise in abject embarrassment. Each of my appendages seemed to have a mind of its own and every single thing I did was wrong in innumerable ways, shapes and forms. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d felt so utterly incompetent, actually coming thisclose to bursting into tears in the middle of class a couple times. Heading home afterwards, I usually felt like a ridiculous failure. But then I’d remind myself that failure is a matter of definition, and that I refuse to let it define what I do.

Continuously this went back and forth in my head – as well as out loud once when, just a few weeks in, one of my new girlfriends decided it’d be hilarious to sucker-punch me in the jaw as I was leaving the change room to join the next class.

“Hah!” she proclaimed, “You failed.”

Startled and mildly outraged, I found myself declaring indignantly, “I did NOT fail. I SUCCEEDED in getting punched in the face! THAT is how you put a positive spin on it.” Then I marched myself into the training area for another 90-minute session of intending to be amazing at kung fu someday.

Now a little over two months in, I’m already starting to feel some progress and experience solid outcomes. Things are finally sinking in (beyond surprise love-taps to my face) which is both wonderful and exciting – even more so because I’ve met my fear of failure persistently and with intention, and perversely managed to have a great time doing it.

How do you turn your intentions into outcomes? Although there are as many answers as there are people answering, I have a suspicion that the best come from a space of deep personal awareness and tenacity.

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Genevieve Sovereign
Community Manager – The Slow School of Business

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