Intention Vs. Ignorance

During a recent visit to the car dealership to get my oil changed, I decided to go for a test drive of a new car rather than sit down and write this blog. Usually, I feel like a creative genius sitting in that waiting room with my headset on, pounding away at the keyboard. Today, I felt that nagging question of “what am I going to write about” hanging in the back of my mind.

With a classic case of writer’s block going, I went for a test drive. It was an avoidance strategy for sure. Perhaps a very expensive one if my avoidance led to getting a new car.

I did what any good test driver of a new car would do: opened it up on the highway to see how fast it accelerated. For a few seconds anyway. As we were making the same circle that salesman has likely made hundreds of times, I asked him how he felt being in the passenger side of a car with a complete stranger flooring it and otherwise putting a car through its paces.

Here is what he said: “I don’t get scared when someone is seeing how fast the car can accelerate or they try the brakes. What scares me is the people who don’t realize just what a bad driver they are.”
His statement reinforced an insight that has been percolating with me for years. It’s something that will be percolating for the rest of my life.

Awareness matters. So does intention. And they are closely linked.

Being unaware (ignorant) can create unfortunate consequences – in domains far beyond test driving a car. Ignorance simply means you are operating based on an unconscious choice and you do not know what you do not know. Like a driver who is oblivious. Like a boss who doesn’t understand the impact s/he has.

What the car salesman basically said was that intention makes his job less scary.

There is a lot of power in intention. This is not a newsflash. There have been books and movies made about the power of intention.

Yet, like anything with depth, there is a WORLD of difference between knowing something in theory and actually putting it into practice.

It’s the “putting it into practice” that has been percolating with me for the last several years.

Being intentional requires awareness and discipline.

Intention to me means that you are operating by a conscious choice. You made a decision and you are acting on that decision.

It means I have to pause to decide on my intention for anything that matters. It’s one of the key leverage points I can use to run my life (instead of letting my life run me.)

So how did I do on that slippery slope of test driving a car? Did I fall prey to the salesman’s charms and drive out with a new car? (By the way, I genuinely am in the market for a new car – and I also love the game of negotiating.)

In this case, when I decided to actually do a test drive, I also decided that my intention was to learn about the car, get a first offer and LEAVE. No matter how good the offer.

The deal they put in front of me was actually pretty good – and I honored my intention. It kept me from making a rushed deal, and when I do buy, it will be on my terms.

Being intentional helps you create the terms for your life. It puts you in the driver’s seat. You can’t control what happens in so many cases.

Intention allows you to respond rather than react.

Where are you exercising the discipline of intention? In what ways are you letting your life run you? What decisions do you find particularly difficult?

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