Learning The Power of Intention
It was early in my career, for which I am very grateful.
I was leading the last three days of a five-day training program
for US Federal government employees who were mid-level managers
newly assigned to overseas posts. In the group of 30, there
were a few seasoned managers, but most had under three years'
experience managing others.
I had designed the training, which included the development
of some case studies for them to explore in small groups and
then present to the total group. As they discussed performance
issues, I noticed attitudes that seemed different from the
empowering practices I was advocating. Keeping my judgment
in check, I asked "What is/was your intention?"
The first time I asked that question to a man who was talking
about a specific situation he was remembering from his past
that was similar to the case study. With curiosity in my voice
and demeanor, I asked "What was your intention?" He answered,
rather vehemently, "to get rid of this person as soon as possible."
I listened and - and this is very important - I made no reprimand,
judgment, or correction. I let his answer stand for itself,
heard and accepted.
We continued. I asked whenever inspired, "What is your intention"
or "What was your intention?" and sometimes even "What do
you think was their intention?" The most amazing dynamic occurred!
The answers kept reflecting greater and greater empowering
practices by the speaker. It was as if once voiced, the less
empowering intentions lost their power and people were able
to articulate more empowering intentions. As the trainer,
I offered no resistance, only acceptance of their expressions,
so they did not have to resist my resistance or defend themselves.
If I had been writing a screenplay to show the power of asking
about intention, I could not have orchestrated it better.
The whole group changed. In three days, this somewhat disgruntled
group of individuals became a mostly upbeat, empowered group,
eager for their new assignments.
As much as they learned, I learned more. Over time, I have
come to describe my role as "holding a space" for others to
expand or grow. Instead of trying to get them to learn something
on my agenda or to accept my point of view, I joined with
them to learn what they most needed to learn. Of course, there
were many other principles and techniques that I was hired
to impart to them, but this was the most important, in my
opinion, and it was unplanned.
This single incident has been the foundation for exploring
my own intention and helping clients to identify their own
intention. Intention is an integral part of my work.
Today, as you think about your day or an important portion
of your day, what is your intention?
© 2006, 2007 Marshall House.
Jeanie Marshall, Empowerment Consultant and Coach
with Marshall House, produces Guided Meditations on CD albums
and MP3 downloads and writes extensively on subjects related
to personal development and empowerment. Voice of Jeanie Marshall,
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