Coach’s Corner – Why Good Intention is Not Good Enough
Have you had the intention of doing something nice for someone, but not done it? This is like wrapping up a gift, and not giving it to them. Chances are, you have had many undelivered good intentions.
Whether these intentions are to share feedback, to write a thank-you note to an interviewer, or to ask someone to be their mentor, people miss the final step. What makes not following through on good intentions such a common occurrence? In a previous blog post, I’ve shared how people who experience specific triggers may not receive your gift of feedback very well. In another situation, when we’ve acted with good intentions, they may have resulted in diminishing others instead of doing good. Both of these situations would cause us to think twice before taking action.
This third situation, of having good intentions yet not taking action at all, is unique. Some clients procrastinate, or blame it on timing, while others convince themselves that what they have to say has no value. The more self-aware clients of mine call out and identify issues with their own self-esteem, their own fear of how the other person my react, or fear of being rejected.
As a leadership and career coach, I encounter clients who struggle with following through on their good intentions. I liken this to wrapping up a gift and not delivering it, because the full potential of this exchange is not realized. In fact, there is no benefit to the other person at all. There’s nowhere to exchange, refund, or get a store-credit for our ‘gift’ in this case. Some gifts such as feedback have an expiry date.
The primary responsibility of coaches is to help our clients take action to achieve their goals, and this may include helping them see the situation from another perspective.
So how do we prevent these gifts from piling up and going stale?
Be mindful of Context. Before you give that ‘gift,’ ask yourself: Is this the right time? When is the best time to act? What’s going around us that may make this a right or wrong place to do this? By consistently considering your context before acting, you can help others know what to expect, increase your dependability, and thereby, build trust in your and your good intentions.
Clarify your Content. You know you have good intentions, but does your recipient know as well? Package or communicate your intentions in a way that the recipient knows the value you hope to bestow. “I’d like to give you this feedback, because I know you can benefit from it next time you’re presenting to the team.” “I wanted to thank you for your time, and helping me learn about your company! I have enough information to take the next steps.” Draw on your power of empathy to communicate and be clear about your sincere intent and your expectations.
Don’t fall in love with your gift (or fear it). As much as fear of being rejected holds you back from acting, the fear of letting go is just as strong. Keep your ego, pride, and self-doubt in check. This requires a reset of your belief-system. Thinking good thoughts is not enough. Your job is not done yet, until you act on your good intentions.
I’d like to end with a point about the most important recipient of our gift, and therefore, the most important reason to take action – yourself! Please reflect on these:
- When was the last time you rewarded yourself?
- What’s holding you back from doing this (sooner)?
- How does practicing self-love unlock your ability to deliver that gift to others?
Please comment below, what good intentions have you acted on for yourself?
Check out more blog posts in this series: Coach’s Corner.