Tenacious Intentionality: Lessons from the Beach

I have the blessing this week of a little getaway to Panama City Beach with my mom and dad.  As I grow older, I cherish those opportunities to hang out with them.

I’ve visited many beaches and truthfully, this beach town is not really different from other coastal locations in the US.  Tourism is the main business, hotels line the sand-coated streets, and “people watching”, at least for me is always one form of entertainment.

As I observe vacationers here one thing really strikes me:  people are very intentional in their plans to relax at the beach.  After all, that’s why they are here.

Think about it.  We bring all our relaxation accessories – beach towels, chairs, coolers, umbrellas, books, etc. – and make the trek from condos and hotels to find that “perfect” spot on the beach to do nothing but relax.  Some have driven miles and miles to fulfill the goal of doing absolutely nothing.

Hmmm…I think we can learn a lesson from these vacationers.  As leaders, how often do we really plan the intentional actions of our leadership?

It’s an interesting concept.  Is it possible to plan intentionality?  I think so.  Here are 3 actions effective leaders employ to stay on top of their game:

 1.       It starts with awareness. 
Do you start your day with intentionality on your mind?   We must plan to be successful and goal-drive or the traps of meetings, email and fire fighting will consume not just today but every day.  Being effective with our time and task list is really simple in nature but difficult to execute because we have to think about them. 

2.       You must be a boundary setter.
Let’s face it.  Common sense is not really common.  And when it comes to those subtle cues of social interaction, some folks just don’t get it.  Who are those people in your workplace?  You know the ones – they stop by your desk to say hello and 20 minutes later they are still there.  Those 20-minute chats can zap a day before we know it.  It’s not just people.  How much of your day is filled with time-draining meetings that never move the business forward?  Intentionality means setting healthy boundaries with all the time stealers of the day.

3.       They keep score.
You’ll never know you have achieved success unless you know where you are going.  How do you track the success toward your goals?  Intentional leaders rely on checkpoints along the way to ensure every component of a day was effective.  And here’s the key:  they adjust along the way and make the necessary changes to correct inefficiencies.   Meeting format and contents are reviewed.  To do lists are added to the calendar so that discussion with your employee occurs.  And a review is done at the end of each day that answers the question “how did I do today?”.

On paper, these three items are easy to understand and in fact, most leaders would readily agree to their importance.  Actually doing them?  Now that’s a different story.  It’s a work in progress but the benefits are rich.

Now back to the beach.  I have some intentional relaxation to do.

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