written by Erica Quam
I was talking to a coach this week who shared one of her accomplishments.
(Coaches begin our calls by telling me what went well, what they’re proud of, and things they’ve accomplished since the last time we spoke).
This coach shared, “My accomplishment was...I actually set an intention. Instead of reacting the way I normally do, I set an intention…and it worked!”
“Alright! Cool!” I replied.
“What did setting an intention look like for you? What did you do?”, I asked.
The coach described what happened.
She had been avoiding a difficult conversation with her head coach. There were issues that she didn’t know how to address so she kept putting it off. Over time, emotions continued to build. Now, almost anything he said triggered her…even if it was an innocent comment.
At practice this week she felt like he put her on the spot in front of the team. She wasn’t ready for it and it felt as if he was setting her up for an embarrassing situation - just to spite her.
THE PAUSE BEFORE THE REACTION
After practice once the team had left, she was about to blow up. She wanted to let him know how upset she was.
Before she did, she remembered a little formula from one of our earlier conversations.
E + R = O.
The event plus your reaction equals the outcome.
“I closed my office door, turned off the lights, and closed my eyes. I asked myself those three questions we had talked about: 'who do I want to be, how do I want to feel, and what do I want the outcome to be?' I just jotted a few thoughts down on a piece of paper. I took a couple more deep breaths. Then I went into his office to talk.”
“Then what happened?” I asked.
“The conversation that went way better than I could have expected. There were things we had both miscommunicated about that we cleared up. He thanked me for taking the time to bring things up. I found out that all he really wanted to do was support me yet he felt like he aways said the wrong thing. I was able to tell him what I wanted and needed from him to feel that support.”
Most of the time we don’t take time think about what we want the outcome of our conversations to be beforehand.
When you take - even a moment - to get clear on what you want before you start talking, it can change everything. Communicate - in advance - to let the other person know what you want the outcome of the conversation to be. This level of communication can ease their mind and help build a bridge to a new level of understanding.
Examples of outcomes you might want to work towards:
be listened to and heard
vent a frustration
get on the same page
figure out a misunderstanding
remain friends in the end
find out what someone is thinking
check out a story you’ve made up in your head
Setting an intention is a powerful tool. It's directing the mind to take aim. You can set an intention for BIG moments - like for the new year, for the season, or for a big event.
The most powerful application is incorporating intention as a habit...or better yet, a practice.
Set intentions for the small things that come up each day - to move towards a better outcome.
Here are a few examples of when you can tap into the power of your intention:
walking out to practice
meeting with your team
asking for a raise
giving constructive feedback to an assistant coach
before a conversation with a challenging athlete
seeing a parent that drives you crazy
going home to your family at the end of a long, stressful day
The process for setting an intention is simple:
When you take time to pause, you allow yourself to focus and get clear. Tap into the power of your attention (that's usually just splattered all over the place!)
When you observe your breath, you come into the here and the now. Instead of worrying about the future (what hasn't happened yet) or dwelling in the past (things that may not happen again). Come into the present (which is the moment that really matters).
To set an intention, try this 3 question formula: 1) Who do I want to be? 2) How do I want to feel? 3) What do I want the ideal outcome to be?
This is something that doesn’t have to take a lot of time and can be one of the most powerful things you do each day.
Move away from reacting to everything and move towards responding. That’s when you'll really begin to create better outcomes.