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Being Intentional Today

| September 26, 2023

by MOR Associates

Today’s Tuesday Reading is from Chad Fulton, Associate Director, Center for Teaching and Learning, The University of Texas at Austin. He is a current MOR program participant.  Chad may be reached at [email protected] or via LinkedIn.

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. – Ferris Bueller

This famous quote from the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, second only in some lists to “Bueller…Bueller…Bueller”, can be interpreted in various ways. On one level, it reminds us to notice and be aware. MOR has given us many tools to do this: the three lenses, reflection, presence matters, etc.

But what is the next level on this journey? My mind travels to the idea of intention. Ferris made a plan: fake an illness, compel the involvement of his closest friends, and have a day leading to a lifetime of memories.

What does it mean to intend?

  • have in mind as a purpose or goal: plan
  • design for a specified use or future
  • signify, mean
  • refer to
  • direct the mind on

Two of these definitions resonate with me. “design for a specific use or future” reminds me of the Desired Future State. Where do we want to be in one, three, or five years? What do we want our services, teams, and organizations to look like? Your planning doesn’t always have to be large and grand. What do we want from today or next week? 

Also, “direct the mind on” raises the idea that our thoughts can go on any number of paths. Direction is an intentional act to decide where to invest our mental energy. 

At the outset, Ferris didn’t know how the day would turn out. The outcome was out of his control. However, he decided to carefully create the conditions to experience the unexpected.

One of my colleagues recently commented on time in academia. “You know, once September gets rolling, it might as well be October. It might as well be the holidays.” If we’re not careful, this mentality can lead to coasting to get through the days.  It moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.

“What will you do with an opportunity?” Our facilitators posed this question at a recent MOR workshop. As I approach the latter portion of 2023, what are my intentions? 

One of these days, I’m gonna sit down and write a long letter
To all the good friends I’ve known
One of these days, one of these days
One of these days and it won’t be long (It won’t be long)
It won’t be long.

Neil Young

Many of us may be reaping the benefits of intentional acts and habits we’ve developed this year. Let’s take time and create space for our intentionality. What three things could you do this week to focus on your priorities intentionally?

Last week, we asked what has been the most helpful to you in times of crisis.

  • 40% said prioritization
  • 26% said goodwill
  • 24% said relationship-building
  • 9% said strategic planning
  • 1% said they haven’t been in a crisis

Our most common response to successfully navigating a crisis is prioritization, the ability to determine and focus on what is most important and urgent for us.  The next central theme is the importance of relationships, especially the goodwill generated.  Successfully navigating a crisis usually involves solving problems more extensive than any of us can solve alone.  As such, prioritization and effective relationships to navigate the crisis are critical.  While almost all of us have experienced crises, we generally experience crises only sometimes.  Crises amplify both the strengths and opportunities we have in our leadership.  Cultivating healthy habits around prioritization and relationships is helpful to us, whether in a crisis or more routine work.