intention

WOOP your Intention

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Our last blog post tried to get you in touch the sweeping changes and improvements in our world.  

But that raised for us a personal question framed by the Greek concept of entelechy.  

The impulse to become better, something more, to become all that you can be, is that impulse the Greeks, most notably Aristotle, challenges us to ask what are we working on?

What gets attention grows and what gets attention gets invested with intention.

I posed the question what are you giving attention to?

Let’s break it down. How does this principle of attention and intention work?

If you decide to act on the quiet background desire (the attention that has finally “gotten your attention”) that you've always had to paint, or learn a new foreign language, or even to become the best in your industry, this is where “when you act” you are moving from the idea your attention has fiddled with, to genuinely acting on it, to actually do something. 

The more you think about this (attention) and the more “excited” you get to engage this new territory, the more energy is invested in making it so (intention).

What often happens though is we never move from attention to intention.  From something hitting our awareness horizon to us giving it focused energy.  

What thing has been floating around vying for your attention in the background muzak of our life that should really get focused energy?  

Because I am spending lots of my coaching practice time with clients wanting to optimize their health this is a ready illustration for me.

It is not enough to say, “it has hit my attention that sugar is the best host site for cancer and that sugar might be the most addictive everyday drug in 90% of all products on grocery store shelves.”  Great information.  Correct information.  Carbohydrate/sugar addiction is responsible for 2/3 of all Americans being terribly overweight and 1/3 morbidly so.  But until attention gets coupled with focused energy to act, plot, plan and execute, that fact will remain part of the swirling mass of information in your head.  

So what is in your attentional field of awareness?  

That you need to dial in your health?

That you need to join the 5 am club, go to bed earlier and cut out TV to increase your learning inputs?

That you need to carve out more time for relationships and invest in those that matter most?

That you need to get a grip on your temper, or your stress level, or anxiety?

What do you need to focus intention on?

Let me give you a little memory trick from one of the great researchers of our day, Gabrielle Oettingen, from her book Rethinking Positive Thinking (an incredibly important book even for parents teaching their childrend!)  It is called the WOOP method.

W - Then what is the wish

O - What does the outcome feel like? What does the desired future look like in high definition color? What would be happening if this outcome occurred

O - What are the possible obstacles? - This is an important and counterintuitive step.  And this is the big contribution of her research.  If all we do is focus on the outcome we will miss the crucial preparation necessary to overcome the challenge when it presents itself.  People that engage this step are vastly more successful achieving their intended outcome because they have anticipated that things will not go off pain or glitch free!

P- And last, what is the plan as those obstacles crop up you will use to step over, around, under or through them.  You can see why the “plan” comes last after the “obstacle.” You build into your execution plan the steps necessary to overcome the potential glitches you have anticipated.

You will hit lack of motivation when the verbs get too complicated in learning the new language.  You will have evenings when reverting to eating a whole row of Oreos just sounds good. You will have times that you would rather veg in front of the TV at 9:00 pm instead of going to bed so you can get up at 5 am and crush a workout so BDNF sets up your brain to be sharper and smarter than those around you. No one should be surprised that these thing WILL happen. 

But when you WOOP your intention… the game changes and you change…and you move from being average toward being a “A” player!

The Impulse

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What one can be, one must be

Abraham Maslow

Maslow is summarizing in 6 words the human drive toward “better,” toward being fully human, toward being all that we can be. He said it was as real as our need to breath.

Millenia before Maslow, in 382 BCE, one of the great philosophers, Aristotle, was born; he might be the first person who identified this drive.  He called it entelechia, the drive to make actual what is currently only potential.  Most of us really want to be better, do better, become something more.

Do you realize???

700 years ago…the Plague killed 200 million people in a single year; that is 40% of England’s population.

500 years ago… 3 million people died in France due to famine.

100 years ago… World War I saw 16 million killed and the flu killed 50 million in a single year!

If we heard stats like that today we would be shocked and alarmed.

The world has dramatically progressed in the last 100 years  But that progress is often eclipsed by the reporting bias that supports our evolutionary propensity for tuning into negative threats.  Which means, negative news sells, because it gets attention, which skews our understanding of what is happening in the real world. Which is why it feels so despairing… entelechia has us wanting things to improve….but it is!

Do you realize the per capita income for every single nation on the planet has tripled in the last century? Food cost has dropped 30X?  Not 30%, 30 fold! Transportation hundreds X and communication millions X? 

We could dig into all the interesting changes that have happened in the last 100 years.  Because few stats are short of mind blowing.

But it illustrates the point of this post.  We have a worldview biased to seeing the world as getting worse…when there is hardly one metric where that is true.  

If you didn’t see last week’s Wildlybetter video on three books you must read, go watch it… it is all about this wild improvement in our world.

Over time we ARE improving.  And entelechia is the impulse, the spark the prompt that moves us toward improving.

Which raises a question….are you?

Are you getting better?  

What gets attention grows.  

What gets attention gets invested with intention.  

 

So where is your attention?  What is your intention?

Where is entelechia prompting you?

This might be a more important question than ever because one of the big areas of global improvement is lifespan.

You stand to be here on this planet longer than any generation, bar the original methuselah generations.

100,000 years ago, cavemen lived til their late 20's. By age 13, humans went into puberty and began having children; by 26, those parents became grandparents and soon passed away.

Lifespan grew to about 35 by the Middle Ages.

In the 1800’s it was around 40.

Today it is around 80 and rising all the time. 

You, on average, have more years ahead than your great-grandparents had on this planet.

What is getting your entelechia impulse to be a contributor and dent-maker?  

What is getting your attention and intention this week? What are your deepest priorities?

To move from the comfortable bayou of the known into the vast ocean of the unknown will take wild courage, friend. 

Rollo May, the 20th century eminent psychologist described entelechia in his book The Courage to Create:

“The acorn becomes an oak by means of automatic growth; no commitment is necessary. The kitten similarly becomes a cat on the basis of instinct. Nature and being are identical in creatures like them. But a man or woman becomes fully human only by his or her choices and his or her commitment to them. People attain worth and dignity by the multitude of decisions they make from day to day. These decisions require courage.”

Grab some courage, focus your attention, bring some intention to your deepest priorities, and become all that you can be.

 

 

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