Intent vs. Impact

newtons cradle silver balls conceptRecently, I was working with an experienced group of managers.  We got into a discussion about the impact of our behavior on those we lead.  From the experiences they shared, we found that the intent of our actions sometimes has a different and in many cases, unintended impact.  Most of the time, this unintended impact was bad.

Sometimes it seems that life is a great chess match.  Each move we make has the potential to make us a winner or end up in checkmate.  If that’s the case, perhaps we need to make a point of living deliberately.

If you were being coached on disarming a roadside bomb, you’d probably be told to work slowly and deliberately.  Each action, even the smallest, could result in disaster if done incorrectly.  While our lives normally don’t operate in that level of risk, we certainly could benefit by thinking carefully through our actions.

While pondering all of this on the flight home, I came up with the following steps that may be helpful in the act of thinking deliberately.  When thinking about your next move, test it with these questions:

  1. What are the short term benefits and impact?
  2. What are the long term benefits and impact?
  3. 5 years from now, what are the possible outcomes from this decision?
  4. Who might be helped by this decision?
  5. Who might be hurt by this decision?
  6. If this decision was broadcast on the evening news, what would that do for my career?  My family?

I know you won’t have the time to run through these each and every time for all the decision you’ll make, but at least consider these.  In time, this process will probably go much quicker, but if you’re really concerned about a critical situation, take the time to run through the steps.  Years from now, you may be glad you took the time to do it!