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What You Focus on (and do) Matters

An intention is a desire not yet paid off with action. You have brought neither attention nor resources to bear.

The mismatch of intention and attention is the problem in a nutshell.

Look at it this way. If a batter steps up to the plate (we’re talking American baseball now), that act presumably represents intention. If his mind is elsewhere, he’ll soon enough be three strikes and out.

That’s attention (or lack of attention).

In business, failure to pay attention to our intentions erodes trust. It eats away at all the delicate strands and fibers that make up the fabric of a healthy organization.

Likewise, if we promise one thing to our customers through our brand messages yet deliver wildly varying experiences, that mismatch between intention and attention erodes customer trust, then confidence, then belief, and finally loyalty and patronage.

It may not take three strikes—it may take ten or it may take one—but it surely leads to yet another “out.”

This plays out with our teammates, colleagues, and employees. Breathless mission statements, sweeping new initiatives, and goals that nobody believes in fail to motivate when intention and attention fail to match up.

This lack of coincidence between intention and attention doesn’t make you, me, or us bad. It just makes us human. But that doesn’t make it a productive or useful trait.

The first and best place to change things for the better is more attention and less intention. What you focus on matters.