Sit. Fetch. Roll over. Speak.

2 Mar

I recently met with a young entrepreneur whom I’ll call Blair. Blair is an intriguing young woman and a go-getter; she started a service business while in college, built it upon good values and service, and ran it with a drive to make it successful.

When we first met several years ago, I decided to use Blair’s service for my own Taekwondo school. The service wasn’t anything I couldn’t do myself, but it would enhance my business a bit and ensure it got done regularly.

Because of her ambition to apply her business skills in bigger ways, Blair stepped aside into bigger ventures. I don’t recall if our contract was fulfilled or if there was a blip in that. I do recall being a bit confused and frustrated at the time and wondering about Blair’s overall maturity and reliability, with some residual, lasting impression.

Blair’s request to meet with me was so she could apologize for any confusion and frustration, to say that she was sorry for letting me down and – surprisingly — to give me back my money. She wanted to do that in order to try to completely clear up any past negative stuff. She wanted to take full responsibility and make things right.

I was moved. This young person showed a maturity and humility that many people never attain. As I remembered it, she had delivered most, if not all, of the contacted service; however, she felt that selling me a garment that developed loose threads was not what she intended; she was refunding all of my money as full amends. But, as I see it, it was not about the money; it was about the relationship.

BIair’s actions gave me pause. My mind went to other business and personal interactions I have had wherein someone’s offering, whether an interaction or a transaction, was a compromised expression, if not a half-offering, or worse, disingenuous. “I’m sorry you feel that way” or “I’m sorry you were offended” are not apologies. “Let’s meet half-way” or “I’ll split the loss with you” are often another way of saying, “I don’t want to accept full responsibility for this” or “I’m only half (or not really) sorry.”

I do know that I came away with a clear belief in Blair’s action as an offer of full good intention; we had an open, honest discussion and I left that meet-up feeling light and clear, with a belief that Blair was truly sorry and claiming full responsibility for her own behaviors and actions. I had no sense of half-way or half-intent, or of her simply trying to impress me.

I just this morning happened to read a quote by social justice activist Adrienne Marie Brown: “Action expresses priorities.” A very timely find. I took Blair’s action as clearly stating a priority of responsibility, reconciliation and right action in the future. Blair made a full gesture to ensure that her intention was clear. I recognized it immediately.

My interaction with Blair has caused me to reflect on how I act, and thus express my intentions and priorities, in my various roles of relationship, leadership and influence – as a spouse, a parent, a member and leader in Rotary, a church congregant and elder, a business trainer, a martial arts instructor, mentor and leader.

If I look at my current or proposed behavior, how does or how will it reflect my intention? How can or should I act in a given matter to really make my intention clear?

In what ways am I fooling myself about my real intention? How is my behavior a clue to what’s really going on inside, revealing my true priority? Am I fooling myself that people are buying my behavior and not ultimately seeing through it to my real intention or priority? (Hopefully, I am not that disingenuous and misguided!)

In what ways am I letting role, position or status affect my behavior, thus compromising the integrity of my intention-action? Can I step away from that “stuff” and act in a better way such that my behavior truly supports and expresses my desire, priority and intention?

Am I clear about my intention, since my behavior is sure to ultimately reflect it?

In what ways am I ready, willing and able to take actions that fully, clearly, even boldly, express the priorities and intention I have or profess? Am I willing to sacrifice, humble myself, perhaps even look bad, in order to build more rightness and wholeness, to act with more integrity? Do I truly care enough to act in a way that express those things?

I’m not sure who may have originally said it, but I recall the adage, “We judge ourselves by our intentions, but others by their behaviors.” Others are ultimately judging us not by our expressed intentions or priorities, but by our actions. Yes, actions speak volumes more than words. Further, over time, ultimately our behaviors reveal our true intentions and priorities.

I’ve been told that our Great Grand Master has noted that the mind and body travel together. So too, it seems, must intention and action. Thank you, Blair, for the lesson. You inspired an old dog to work harder on his tricks.

One Response to “Sit. Fetch. Roll over. Speak.”

  1. Barb March 2, 2015 at 11:55 #

    Master Chris, your excellent post brings to mind an adage I learned in the Klemmer program; Success is measured by results – often harsh, always fair. Your reflections on the connection between our intentions and results are ones that most of us would do well to revisit frequently in life. I know that my life takes clear steps forward every time I do.

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