Okay, so I'm in a session with a client and coaching colleague, Noelle. Really cool lady. As with all my sessions, the empowerment gained not only serves them, it's clearly a message I am to heed as well. Their learning is my learning. So the topic of showing-up bubbles to the surface, but not in the way you are probably thinking right now. After concluding our session it got me thinking. How am I showing up? What really detonated this proverbial mushroom cloud in my mind was the following inquiry.
What's the intentionality in how I show up?
Yeah, sit for a moment... No worries, take your time. There will be those of you higher functioning sorts thinking, "Duh, that's a no-brainer man..." Well to you I say "Oh really? Then, enlighten me please oh smug wise one." Pfffttt. Now for those of us mortals with our feet on the ground and hearts in the now, this very topic is one that could easily fly right over our heads. Allow me to elaborate on what I mean in "The intentionality in how I show up."
Before doing so, I am feeling a strong desire to comment on something. So I'm in the middle of reading Brené Brown's new book Braving The Wilderness (I absolutely adore her). While reading, and becoming completely enamored with her style of storytelling, my mind experiences embers of inspiration that begin to flitter about. "Focus Ty, read on. Read on man." It's funny and witty and raw. Here's the thing, reading about her quest for true belonging and the courage to stand alone, an incessant whirling begins to stir wildly within. These embers begin to ignite wildfires in my being. Ahhhhh!
I. Must. Write!
This is too valuable not to share. Okay, back to Noelle's experience, and now mine. So, what is the intentionality in how I show up? For me, this inquiry speaks to something much deeper. What the motivating factor behind how I show up. Is it to serve some ego-driven desire? Is it because I want to be seen and heard by someone I value? Or is it to serve in a deeper manner?
This is some real shit we're talking about here. Intentions have a funny way of presenting themselves to the world. When we are unclear about the intention behind our "Intentions", things can easily take a different turn, and maybe even go sideways on us. Who's got time for that sort of mess? Not this guy. Too busy moving and shaking to take missteps like that.
What's the intentionality in how you're show up when meeting new people? Think about it. How authentic are you really allowing yourself to be in that moment? Do you give yourself permission to be seen just as you are in that moment without the need to justify? That is some scary stuff.
First impressions can have a great impact on the tone of new relationships. Remember, relationships come in all shapes and sizes. They are not only limited to family, friends, and the committed or intimate kind. They can be professional, once or twice removed from work, even acquaintances. Any interaction that happens more than once, no matter how brief, can be considered a form of relating to another being. Ergo relation-ship. Savvy?
Can you see how deep the rabbit hole goes? Yeah, I know I can. There are so many dimensions to this one very topic. Moving on now.
Intentionality. What does that even mean?
Noelle and I were both moved by the depth this word held for each of us. Intentionality is a philosophical concept and 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". That is to say, the mistakes I've recently made cause an outcome that hurt someone else's feelings. Now were my mistakes intentional or unintentional?
In other words, did I passively allow for the accident to occur because of some underlying feeling in order to absolve me of any responsibility for the outcome? Which in this case, led to feelings becoming hurt. I could have easily voiced what I was truly feeling instead of allowing careless mistakes to unfold. Some may call this passive-aggressive behavior. This is one example of intentionality.
Another example can be my socially gregarious nature. On the surface, I'm open and welcoming, but deep inside, what I may be really seeking is acceptance. Or is my desire to truly help someone feel seen and welcomed? I'd like to think the latter of the two. I won't lie, I also love feeling seen. So what's my real motivator? It's easy to dismiss the true intention behind our intentions for what's on the surface. To then claim innocence when outcomes turn out differently than we "intended".
So what now?
Far be it from me to suggest that we question the intention behind every action. On the flip side, I'd also be doing you a disservice by even remotely inferring a lack thereof. A happy middle grown would be to simply check yourself before you wreck yourself whenever you can. Introspection is a very powerful tool we have been blessed to possess as human beings. It could mean the difference between meaningless or meaningful connection. Just show up as you, authentically, courageously and powerfully. As long as love is the space from which you choose to show up, there is not much else that can get in the way of your intentions. Just. Show. Up.