May 10, 2022, Dina-Marie Weineck
There is a word that can change everything. Your marriage, your company’s future, your day, your workout routine, your EDI (Equity, Diversity, Inclusion) efforts: INTENTIONALITY.
If you don’t have it, you end up some place strange…unintended…dissatisfied.
I’ve got a little pet peeve: I hate it when people say “urgh, you’re so lucky, you get to travel to all these amazing places and set your own hours.” Uh…I BUILT that, thank you very much. For two years, brick by brick, flight by flight, client by client, decision by decision.
Now, absolutely, I’ve been born with many privileges that gain me access to certain treatment, resources, education, etc. Just to spell it out, I'm talking about the color of my skin, my passport and nationality, my sexual orientation, etc. These are all things that I did nothing to earn or deserve. I absolutely (unfortunately), got lucky here.
What I can choose, however, is how I use that privilege … yup … intentionally. And so, I choose to inspire, unite, uplift, and kick-a*s. Related, what I did have something to do with is the type of lifestyle I’m living. And the singularly most important thing in building it was this: Intention.
I’ll never forget the time I first experienced the power of intention: When I went on my first backpacking trip, I had a two-fold intention: Experience, Perspective. These two words guided my every move through Asia, my every question, decision, and conversation. Very liberating and healing, indeed: that little thing, called, intention. I knew what I wanted and went after it. And that holds true for business as much as it does for your lifestyle.
But wait, what's the opposite of intentionality? Well...
In order to answer that, let me play devil’s advocate for a minute and paint the picture of what happens without intention.
Let’s start off light: My only intention for a beach day on Sunday is to sleep in, bring a book to the beach, have a glass of wine, and get a tan. The only way that could be ruined is if I kept my phone on, replied to emails in the morning, and invited gossipy people onto the trip. See? Intention gets me tanned. Lack thereof gets me agitated.
A bit heavier: You find yourself trapped in a job (or marriage) that you hate and you tell yourself a story wherein you’re the victim that can’t get out of this situation. Instead, why don’t you set an intention to create, bit by bit, the changes within your life that ultimately allow you to take the plunge? All it takes is that…the intention and commitment to it.
And now the real bi(uz)z killer: you publish a fancy inclusivity and equity statement and the staff meeting is full of white employees. Uh? How about intentional marketing, job posting, equitable interview strategies, inclusive job descriptions, industry training programs and apprenticeships? Hello!!! Pleeeeease don’t come complaining when the PR department suddenly has to work overtime to excuse the inexcusable. Tayo Rockson put it best in this three minute episode.
Alright, now a few cool examples of where intentionality can get you (and not just to the beaches in Lisbon...):
A former client, a truly wonderful mural painter and graphic designer, basically became a cash cow after intentionally re-allocating her time and painting projects. Within a year, she had quadrupled the fees she could charge per project AND doubled the time available in her schedule. You do the math on what impact that had on her annual bottom line.
How? Intentional time allocation began to show in the work boundaries she set with clients and ultimately reflected in her client contracts.
A colleague’s firm, upon her arrival to the new job, had an obvious and severe lack of female leadership and a predominantly white office. She asked: “What are your EDI initiatives?” There were none. So, she built – intentionally and proactively – a EDI taskforce and implemented clear review systems, opening up dialogues and creating training programs with the objective to increase the diversity among the leadership team and throughout the office. Her intention was to create a more equitable workplace culture. Not only did they meet their objectives, but they also prevented crucial staff from leaving.
So, what is it? Intentionality?
It’s when you have a clear objective that speaks to the vision of your company and the values you put forth as a team.
It’s when you put your money where your mouth is.
It’s when you walk the talk.
It’s when you not only act, but stand in solidarity.
It’s also when you ask yourself:
What do I need from this?
Why am I doing this?
What am I hoping to accomplish through this?
What would ‘ideal’ look like? And is that feasible?
…and then going after just that.Intention is the way to save the world…and to quote that mural painter: "It’s pretty f*cking feasible."