Being intentional

What separates your actions from those of a stone or a piece of wood? Sometimes not that much. Sometimes a lot.

Intentionality is defined by the Stanford encyclopedia of Philosophy as “the power of minds to be about, to represent, or to stand for, things, properties and states of affairs”. Standing for something. Having a goal at the fore front of your mind.

It’s a lofty concept if you dig into it. Just check out the sprawling Wikipedia page: link. But it is at the centre of my next guest’s life. It gives him some of his greatest experiences and successes. Being intentional affects his family, his goals and his actions.

Tune in to the chimpwithcans podcast this Friday (audio posted to chimpwithcans.com) to hear some more.

Strategy

How to achieve the mission?

The strategy lays out your approach to achieving a mission.

For example, if your mission is to pass an exam, your strategy should include some studying.

Laying out the right strategy will allow you to incorporate the mission into your life along with all your other commitments.

Mission

An important assignment, a mission is focussed.

It works towards the dream and vision you might have, but it is very much grounded in the real world. It is specific. Many missions may achieve a larger dream or a vision.

If my dream is to sell solar power to the world, my first relevant mission might be to become an accredited environmental engineer, or a solar technician.

A mission is an important task and it has a beginning and an end. It is a clarification of what is important and what is not. Do this, don’t do that.

Guided by the vision, a mission zooms in on the day to day stuff that needs to be executed before a dream comes true.

That’s my take.

 

 

Vision

Vision is the dreaming part. Seeing an ideal future. Looking up ahead at where you want to go.

I don’t struggle with vision as I have an active imagination. I can picture myself in various situations quite easily. What’s harder is to fit this dream into your everyday life.

Thinking about the vision long and hard leads to a refined version. Why this vision and not another? What is the core drive behind this dream?

I would place one boundary on the vision you have. Make the vision about something other than yourself. I think Ego will only get you so far. To complete bigger projects might need a bigger cause, such as community, utility, risk management, etc.

Planning a project

I have found a useful framework for planning a project. Its origins are mostly from the military. Its application to the business world, and in fact to any dream you may want to fulfil are most useful.

I will be outlining each section and then over the coming days running through what I think each one means practically.

So, the sections/framework:

  • Vision
  • Mission
  • Strategy
  • Tactics
  • Objectives
  • Values
  • Culture

There is an interesting mix of harder and softer stuff in there. Culture and values being softer in my mind than tactics or strategy.

I’m finding it useful to focus and to plan. Something I can always use help on.

 

The world is your ostrich – on scope

The world is your oyster. (Or as they say in Kenya, the world is your ostrich). This is a fine saying full of hope and optimism, but how do you know what part of the world/oyster/ostrich to focus on? How do you define scope for your next project?

Scoping your work is probably the most important part. Scope is what lets us understand where to allocate time and resources to a project. It sets the boundaries, and it is very subjective.

How to decide on a focus and a scope of a project then? Stick with what you know. This is hard because the internet and TV can convince you that you know about all sorts of stuff. But to quote Seth Godin: “There’s a difference between being aware of the emergency of the day and having firsthand experience and firsthand empathy for different people in different places.”

Focus then on something which you understand through first hand experience. Perhaps you can show people how to do something (check out my mate Martin’s excellent Vlog series for his art). Or perhaps you know exactly where there is a gap in the market. The point is – take the real, personal interactions you have in the world and grow the project from there.

70% with control

I like to play squash. Probably the best advice I have been given is to only give 70% with each shot, and focus all that energy on cleanly hitting the ball. Do it properly at 70% rather than flying in and flailing around at 110% (which is my natural inclination!)

This is more than just a squash tactic. I am at my best when I am calmly dealing with what is in front of me. If I decide to go 110% and expend every ounce of energy in pursuit of one thing, i usually burn out pretty fast.

Life is a juggling act. Keep some energy in store. Keep your head and wits about you. Do things in the correct way.

 

Avoid inhuman work

Autopilots are inhuman. They take away all responsibility. All tension. This is great if you have to travel from A to B – a well defined path with a roadmap. Not so good if you have to build something great. Something that people need to relate to. Something that needs a response. That needs responsibility and effort.

Any great art comes with humanity built in. That means it has a tension built in. To be human is to be constantly in a state of tension. Light and shade. Contrast.

Think of any great story you have heard. The hero likely wasn’t all good. Similarly you could probably identify with the villain to an uncomfortable degree. If not, there is no tension and a boring lack of humanity.

Will it work out? Despite all the forces against us (think of gravity, atrophy, ageing) we can create wonderful art (think of blues music, Shakespeare, skyscrapers). But it will never happen without recognising the imperfect humanity in everyone. That should be step one.

Step two is turning off your phone and getting to work.

A day off from dopamine consumption

When your phone is glued to your hand come rain or shine – there is a problem.

The constant refreshing of a few apps over and over and over – like a mad man expecting different results but doing the exact same thing. And it’s all for consumption – for keeping up to date and for dopamine. Not for creation.

This blog is for creation though. These words were not here before i put them on the page. No newsfeed. No reading. Just my own words.

Take that, social media. Because sometimes you really suck.