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Michael Thorley

How your intention is more liberating than a plan!!


By Michael Thorley on 25 January 2017

New Year is a time where people come together to celebrate, reflect and look ahead.  For many, it also lets us know the numbers and kinds of people we know. In what ways are we connected and included with those around us? New Year is a great time of year for many. Yet for others New Year can be a time which reminds us that perhaps we are more isolated or lonely than we would like. 

So, at New Year, we tend to make plans for the year ahead in order to change some things.  We may then get caught up in planning and the scheduling and that, whilst helpful for some, can be self-defeating for many. It can be all too much of a chore. If you look at the numbers of resolutions we make, how many do we hold onto for the whole year?  Some, but not many.

Not achieving our plans (falling off the wagon, missing a low calorie day, not reading that book or article, skipping a planned run, not calling that guy/girl you’ve been interested in for a while) can send us into all kinds of emotions and thoughts. These may range from a shrug of the shoulders; “no problem I’ll do it later” to deeper thoughts and feelings “well I’m not very good anyway so what’s the point”. 

In my experience, most people tend towards the negative judgemental aspects and, given that negative thoughts aren’t that pleasant, the plan tends to get placed to one side. So, whilst a plan can be useful it should not be the focus.

It is usually far more useful to hold the bigger picture of INTENTION.  We can review the choices we make in the context of the intention. In this context there is less room for judgement and more room for flexibility and learning and thus growth and achievement.

So, if we are working towards finding out what I intend to do this year, here are some thoughts to get you going.

•  What is it that I want? (my intention; run a 10k, meet a new person, stretch every day, feel happier)

•  When roughly do I want it? (short, medium, longer term)

•  Who do I want this for?

o  Is it for me? 

o  For someone else?

•  How will I know when I am on my way to achieving my intention? (this can include “I know more people, I have run for 30 seconds and walked a minute, I started reading and spoke to someone about it)

•  What am I prepared to invest to achieve my intention? (this can be time, money, relationships, changing habits e.g. ensuring I go to one networking event, ensuring I talk to one new person)

•  What is the benefit of not achieving my intent? (This is a nice brain teaser but helps us really think about our intent and motivation rather than the plan!)

•  What are the smallest signals that I am beginning to take the steps towards my intention? 

•  What else? (Who can help me? Who can I offer help to? Anything else coming up?)

So, remember, that while a plan can be helpful it can be a bit “all or nothing”, “success or failure”. Clarity on your intent is the more important thing. It allows you to reflect more thoughtfully on what happened and continue onwards. 


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Innovation and creativity through systems thinking. Workshops facilitated by Transcend Consultancy Ltd. 

In the last decade appreciation has grown that organisations behave more like living organisms than machines:

A change in one part affects all the others

If people are given the freedom to interact and take responsibility, new ideas, products and approaches emerge without guidance from formal leadership

Welcoming a diversity of perspectives while forming plans or strategy makes them more likely to be robust

Supporting people or partner organisations to take their right place in the system releases innovation, accountability and learning

But how to weave these insights into the fabric of your team or organisation, partnership or network? How, in other words, to become skilled in bringing a ‘systemic’ mindset to the everyday?

We can take our inspiration from forest gardens where the aim is to create a food producing system modeled on a young natural woodland in which the elements perform many complementary functions and an eco-system evolves that is productive, balanced, diverse and adaptable.

How do we create the conditions for this to happen? What can we learn from nature for our team or organization?

Come to be inspired and to challenge yourselves to think differently. Use the experience of the forest garden system together with insights from human systems to transform your work in changing your organisation, to stimulate innovation, strategy or your quest for a renewed purpose and mission.

For more information please see the link below:

http://thequadrangletrust.com/forest-garden/leadership-business-development/

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We designed one with RWE called Delivering Breakthrough Performance and this is what one participant had to say about it:

“I never did a programme which affected me so strongly.  It’s a bit like walking with open eyes and consciously noticing the complexity of a changing world.”

Christof Kortz – Innovation Strategy Lead, RWE


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