Is this an intentional action or an incidental consequence?

When faced with any task, endeavor or project, two questions need to be asked:

1. What needs to be done intentionally?
2. What do I hope will happen incidentally?

First, let’s explore the word “intentional.”

It comes from the Latin intendere, which means, “To direct one’s attention.”

So, it’s the action you take first, along with the attitude you maintain while taking it.

And, in many cases, that which you intend to do is simple, process-oriented and free from agendas.

For example, let’s say you’re going to exhibit at a trade show.

Your intentions might be to have fun, be uniquely visible, develop and maintain mutually valuable relationships, deliver value and listen to the needs of your attendees.

IN SHORT: Journey, not destination; conversations, not sales pitches.

Now, on the other hand, the word “incidental,” comes from the Latin incidentem, which means, “To occur casually in connection with something else.”

So, it’s the consequence of the intentional stuff.

And, in many cases, that which incidentally occurs is organic, serendipitous and reciprocal.

So, let’s go back to the tradeshow exhibit again.

Considering your intentions from the first example, your incidentals might be obtaining new clients, earning money and building your business.

See the difference?

OK, good. Now, here comes the tricky part…

Because your biggest challenge is going to be discerning between intentionals and incidentals.

BUT HERE’S THE GOOD NEWS: This can be accomplished by asking one simple question:

Is this an intentional action or an incidental consequence?

MY SUGGESTION: Write this question on a sticky note and post it where you can see it every day. This will train your mind to distinguish between intentions and incidentals.

– – –

Now, to further your understanding on the distinction between these two words, let’s take a look at four examples:

1. Don’t (try) to make sales.
Instead, INTENTIONALLY … deliver value first, position yourself as a resource and a trusted advisor, communicate your uniqueness quickly and ask well-timed, creative and thought-provoking questions.

Then, INCIDENTALLY, you will make sales.

2. Don’t (try) to be a leader.
Instead, INTENTIONALLY … be an empathetic, active listener; be inspiring, be passionate, be approachable, be consistent with your character and add value to yourself and to others every single day.

Then, INCIDENTALLY, people will follow you.

3. Don’t (try) to get lots of hits on your website.
Instead, INTENTIONALLY … focus your efforts on creating a web presence through octopus (not earthworm) marketing; blog every single day, make your website easy to find, share and talk about; and build remarkability and word-of-mouth-worthiness into every element of your business.

Then, INCIDENTALLY, the website hits will come pouring in.

4. Don’t try to get the media to approach you.
Instead, INTENTIONALLY … validate your expertise through the publishing of written, audio and video content; post pictures of you doing what you do; take small interviews first, create a media room on your website; and establish a unique, opinionated position, philosophy or approach to doing business.

Then, INCIDENTALLY, the media will come to you.

Ultimately, the distinction between intentional and incidental is best summarized by something I (admittedly) learned from an episode of Dr. Phil.

His advice to the panel of overweight guests was, “Don’t dwell on the idea of shedding pounds, but rather, focus on living a healthier lifestyle.”

He encouraged (er, yelled at) them to modify their eating, drinking, exercising and sleeping habits.

That was the intentional part.

And as a result, he said, they would experience increased energy, higher self-esteem, a more positive self-image and, eventually, a loss of weight.

That was the incidental part.

So, whether you’re trying to increase sales, drive web traffic, lead a group of employees – or even shed those unwanted pounds – here’s the secret:

Fo on the umbrella.

Ask yourself, “Is this an intentional action or an incidental consequence?”

Because, as my mentor, Arthur Scharff says, “Seeking destroys the journey.”

What question do you ask yourself before undertaking any endeavor?

Share your best one here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

…only 18 more days until goes ON AIR!

Things I’ve recently unlearned, part 2

(Read part 1 of this post series here!)

6. People don’t care what you know or (even) what you’ve done. They care ABOUT, are interested BY and want to learn HOW … you think. Period. That’s the key differentiator.

That’s why your clients keep coming back AND telling their friends about you. Because of the way you think. Because you Have a Beautiful Mind (ahem, top three books I read this year.)

Which means that ideas are your greatest source of income. Which means you better recognize your own thinking patterns. Which means everything you know should be written down somewhere.

7. Principles, not techniques. Techniques, seven-step systems, formulas and tactics can (and will) fail. And many of them are manipulative. And people don’t like them. And people can oppose them AND because they CAN come off as contrived and choreographed.

Principles, on the other hand – that is, universally accepted truths – are more effective tools for getting your point across.

And, as usual, are less threatening.

8. Seekers beware. My mentor/friend Arthur Scharff says, “Seeking leadership destroys the journey.”

So, don’t worry about whether or not you’re a leader. Instead, focus on being passionate.

And as a result, people WILL follow you. Hell, they may even call you a leader!

9. The Smarty Pants Wins. Consultants, trainers, speakers, authors, experts … forget about it. All commodities.

Companies don’t want to hire consultants.

They want to hire cool, smart people who happen to do consulting. Or speaking. Or training. Or recruiting. Or financial planning. Or whatever.

LESSON LEARNED: be cool and smart.

Stop boxing your value in with some stupid role or job title.

Don’t be “Dave the Consultant.”

Be “Dave That Really Smart, Creative, Cool Guy Who Always Has Awesome Ideas That I Think Owns His Own Consulting Firm.”

10. That, not what. For example: it doesn’t matter WHAT you write, it only matters THAT you write.

It doesn’t matter WHAT you create, it only matters THAT you create.
It doesn’t matter WHAT you laugh about, it only matters THAT you laugh about.
It doesn’t matter WHAT you do when you’re together, it only matters THAT you’re together.

You get the point. That, not what.

(Read part 3 of this post here!)

What three things have you recently UN-learned?

Post them here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

Enjoy this post?

If so, perhaps I could help on a more personal, one-on-one basis.

Rent Scott’s Brain today!

Things I’ve recently unlearned, part 1

The only thing cooler than learning is UN-learning.

Changing past programming.
Reconditioning your brain.
Rethinking old-school assumptions.

So, here’s a list (part 1 of 3) of some things I’ve recently UN-learned:

1. Don’t create FOR. Not for anyone or anything. Just create. Detach from outcomes. Be autotelic, not exotelic. And stop trying to label everything. Just do stuff for the purpose of doing stuff. Do it because you love doing it.

This will lower your inhibitions and enable your natural creativity to flow organically.

Heck, you’ll probably create some pretty cool stuff in the process.

And eventually, (hopefully), the “for” will appear on its own. It will be a nice added bonus when someone wants to buy your work. (However, even if they don’t, at least you enjoyed making it!) It’s a win-win.

2. Don’t get, CAUSE. Whether it’s sales, management, creativity or facilitating a group discussion, don’t “get” people to buy. Or listen. Or participate. Or ask questions.

Instead, cause them to do so. Maintaining a “get” mindset creates a pushy attitude.

“Causing,” on the other hand, sounds a lot less threatening.

3. Don’t make your website scream, “Hey! Look at me!” Instead, make it scream, “Here’s exactly what you were looking for!”

I’ve recently realized how the user-generated, “My” Culture created by Google, YouTube and Tivo proves that THEY (meaning customers) call the shots. Not us. (Thanks for this one, Seth Godin)

4. Effective speakers don’t always have to speak. This isn’t just about making powerful pauses; this is about audience engagement. After all, their combined knowledge is probably greater than that of the speaker.

And ironically, the longer amount of time a speaker has to speak (one hour vs. half-day session) the LESS the speaker should be speaking. Weird.

5. Environment, not people. You can’t control people. You can only manage the environment in which they interact.

So, your challenge is to create a healthy, organic, friendly atmosphere that is conducive to whatever you’re trying to accomplish.

(Read part 2 of this post here!)

What three things have you recently UN-learned?

Post them here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag

Enjoy this post?

If so, perhaps I could help on a more personal, one-on-one basis.

Rent Scott’s Brain today!

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