Springtime is a love-hate relationship for me. I love the how the scenery comes alive with different shades of green, I love the sun’s radiance and I love the warmer weather as we gradually release from winter’s thaw. I hate the drastic change in temperatures where I can go from wearing sandals to boots in the course of two days! I hate how windy it gets and although I know how important rain is, let’s say I am crankier when the sun is hiding. Another love-hate is what happens in my garden. I love seeing my perennials piercing through the soil and the seeds I have planted making their presence known. I hate how weeds invade with a 10:1 ratio to take over a nicely manicured garden bed. Weeds come in fast, whereas the perennials, bulbs and seeds take their sweet time.
The desire to do something different often starts in our heads as a result of discomfort or distress in our lives. Perhaps we realize the need to give direct and constructive feedback to our team because the same issues are popping up like weeds in the garden. Or maybe we’ve experienced a significant life change like losing a loved one, illness or change in lifestyle forcing us to re-evaluate what really matters. The need for change is often prompted when we notice that our current reality doesn’t match up with our desires. If we can pause during these moments, it’s a great opportunity to examine our motives and ask “What’s really important?” “What do I really want?” and “What needs to go?” “How are my current actions lining up with what’s important?” It’s the gap between our current actions or inactions and what we value that creates the stress.
It reminds me of a conversation I recently had with a friend of mine who shared the personal difficulties he experienced which caused him to unexpectedly take a leave away from work. This experience would have hardened most people I know, however it transformed him because he was forced to ask “What’s really important?” “What do I stand for?” “Who do I need to be to achieve what’s important?” Deep questions, right?
When my friend was able to return to work, he created an intention to share his gratitude for life with his team, coworkers and company. He was humbled by the outpouring of support he received during his absence. His new leash on life, empowered him to openly share about the little things that really mattered. In my coach-like way, I couldn’t resist to ask “How did your intention show up?” He replied by saying “I smile all the time, regardless of what stuff comes up.” Smiling, really? He explained “I feel better when I smile. It’s also contagious because more people smiled back. Sure, it’s tougher when things are not going the way I expect but I remind myself of how far I’ve come, and not to take things too seriously. Life is too short.” I had a greater appreciation for his intention given his recent setback.
His simple intention is also grounded in neuroscience. As social beings, humans are hardwired to mirror the emotions we see. His ability to easily smile makes others happier just because of his presence.
As a leader, he is role modelling behaviour he wants to create in his work environment. Another way his intention showed up was by dishing out random compliments and being specific about what he valued.
His story reminds me of how the garden bed transforms during Spring time. His desire for sharing gratitude was contained in a seed. He needed to nurture the seed’s growth by paying attention to some basic elements; practising gratitude daily and self-compassion as he endured his struggles and expressing his appreciation for those who supported him in his time of need. Once his seed took hold in the ground, his intention grew into something he could share outside his inner circle and became observable above the surface. Growing proudly amongst the weeds or day-to-day challenges, his intention was firmly rooted in what he valued and what mattered to him.
Intentions don’t have to be complicated. It has to come from a place of clarity. It moves us to become who we truly are. Living from our intention means we have to constantly generate the awareness, moment to moment. In my friend’s story, every time he made someone smile, he was reminded. He didn’t need to receive feedback to give it, he intentionally looked for behaviours he valued and wanted others to replicate. Creating reminders can help whether it’s writing it down or setting a timer. Making it known to others keeps it alive and real instead of being in our heads. Find an accountability partner who you can share your intention with and who will give you a gentle nudge when you fall off the rails. Tell those who will be impacted by your intention so they are not caught off guard when change occurs and invite them to participate.
Intentions have the power to re-calibrate our internal compass and inspire others to do the same. As we enter into this beautiful Spring season, what intentions can you bring into blossom?