Imagine boarding a bus with no destination. Not very intentional, is it?

It will stop eventually, but you don’t know where. You just know you’ll end up… somewhere. I know we’re supposed to enjoy the journey, but shouldn’t we arrive at someplace worth going?

Every day, you are given 1440 minutes to use the best you can. You control these gifts and how they are invested. All too often, though, these valuable resources slip out of our grasp and are carried away by the wind.

How will you use your 1440 minutes today?

Will you use them worrying over the past, or even the future? Will you consume (definition: spend wastefully, squander) your time away in front of the television? Will you coast through life letting your inbox and obligations claim your time?

It’s tough to be intentional. But it’s much worse not to do what matters most.

What does it mean to be intentional?

Intentionality is passing on the things you like to prioritize the things you LOVE.

Here’s a random helping of my potential goals. I want to: learn how to weld, fly planes, speak two languages fluently, be an expert violinist, be an excellent programmer, tour with a band, build a circular house, get paid to do what I love, commute on the motorcycle, exercise regularly, live on a boat, travel the world, keep my inbox empty, start my own company, and write books.

It’s quite likely your goals conflict with each other, as do mine. How will I ever do all of these at once? Even just three — keep my inbox empty, travel the world, and write books? Right…

I want all of these things, but some are much more important than others.

And that’s why it is so important to be intentional. You must draw that line in the right place so you can accomplish ONLY what is most important to you. Focus on the best and let others do the rest.

Otherwise, you will do everything you like poorly, and nothing you love completely.

Don’t be hesitant to quit things, especially those you “like” but don’t “love.” To be intentional is to be selective and to filter harshly. Say NO to more so you can say yes and dedicate your time to what you LOVE.

And once we gain momentum accomplishing the most important things intentionally, let’s see if there’s a way to keep it up while living on a boat, travelling the world!

What goals do you need to let go so you can do what is most important?

Ooching: When in Doubt, Try it Out

Not sure if your idea is any good? Give it a few experimental tests. Why commit to a change if you don’t need to? Instead, just “ooch” it.

Some ideas can be so daunting that we never actually implement them. We talk ourselves out of change because it feels so drastic or unwise. But alas — nothing ventured, nothing gained.

As explained in the book Decisive, the word ooch means “to construct small experiments to test one’s hypothesis.” It’s “running small experiments to test our theories.”

It’s the opposite of a commitment. It’s an ooch!

Many times, total commitment is completely unnecessary. You don’t have to re-write the rulebook or completely change strategies just yet. You don’t have enough information yet.

And ooching is great for feeling out promise in a new direction. It answers the question, “Does this idea have potential?”

When you want to make a change but doubt its potential, why not try it a few times and evaluate its future afterward?

Plan Out Your Ooch

Be methodical about your experiment. Choose specific tests that will show the promise or demise of your idea. Take it seriously and do it well, so your team will benefit from the results.

Be specific with the terms. We will try this new method for 3 weeks, as long as these certain conditions are met. Five people will work at home for one month before we officially decide about telecommuting. We will spend $5,000 marketing the nonexistent product to gauge consumer interest.

When Not to Ooch

Of course, there are plenty of ideas that would not work well if they are ooched — such as getting a tattoo, buying a house, and having a kid.

This is not a “one technique fits all” solution to your obstacles and leadership needs.

But what if it’s the perfect way for you to test out a new management technique? What if it’s a great way to discover a new direction for your management, your product line, or even your company’s structure?

Examine your options, and see if you have a perfect candidate for a trial period.

Here’s a Crazy Thought

What if you could ooch hiring a new team member? Instead of having a conversion about work, why not actually give your applicants an assignment to do? You just might be surprised at who interviews very well, yet can’t do the actual work like their CV implies…

Not convinced about the power of ooching? Ooch it and see how it goes!

What if ooching would convince you an idea is perfect for your team’s future?

React Like a Professional

There’s always trouble headed your way. You have to hustle and move and adjust constantly to survive. There’s no time to sit and plan, and you might as well give up on trying to be smooth. React like the best of them!

Let’s face it — the potholes aren’t going to dodge themselves! When a pothole does appear, just change courses and come up with a new plan altogether.

As a leader, you must react constantly. When I do have a spare moment, I spend it preparing myself for the next thing that requires my reaction. It’s kinda fun, like staring at a baseball pitching machine, ready to swing wildly in the direction of the ball the moment it appears.

You cannot know what to do until things happen to you first. Only then can you can react like a pro.

As the leader, you sometimes have to wait patiently for storms, you are tossed around by the waves of circumstance. Once a storm has officially hit, panically flail so you can prevail.

There is nothing like years of practice reacting to yield what I call “The Neurotic Advantage.” I’m referring to that twitchy feeling you get in the face of intimidating obstacles. Those who are calm are conversely at a disadvantage because of their inability to shift strategies on a dime due to their desire to plan a proper course of action. There’s no time for that!

My vision for the company is to maintain our neurotic advantage by reacting to every minor blip on the radar before everyone else takes their sweet time deriving an appropriate response. I want us to stay light on our feet and fast on our trigger fingers. Unfortunately , that occasionally implies collateral damage — and friendly fire will occur.

And when that happens, I will react accordingly.

W. Albert Jameson, IV

On the other hand…
Planning to react isn’t planning at all. Emotions make poor decisions in the heat of the moment. Prepare for distractions, be smooth instead of fast or perfect, and carry on toward your goal. Be wise and calm so you never need to react neurotically.

How do you prepare yourself to respond (and not react) to obstacles?

A Good Hero Needs a Good Crisis

You can’t save the day without a crisis! Be a great leader and jump in the moment a fire flares up. Even better — always have one handy, especially for those times when you need to maintain your pristine image.

Your value as the leader is to rise up at the last moment to triumph over the current crisis. Thus, you restore your importance in the company and demand the respect of those pesky underlings.

When the Crisis is Ready, The Hero Will Appear

How can a fireman save people’s lives until he sees the smoke? What good is an exterminator until there’s an infestation of roaches? Then and only then can you successfully play the part of the hero.

Why do you need your entire IT team if there aren’t any huge technical problems at the moment? If nothing’s going wrong, why not let a few of them go? Since there aren’t any technical problems, they are obviously just dead weight. If the entire network goes down, though, you will gladly call in a team of professionals to save the day.

Remember: Even when you’re not actually the person solving the crisis, you’re still the hero that had the wisdom to oversee the solution. That’s still enough to deserve all of the credit as far as I am concerned. Win / win / win.

Without crisis, there can be no hero.

You may be tempted to prevent any fires from starting up in order to get rid of stress and panic within the company. This is a rookie mistake! What about the times when your people lose respect for you? What about when you need a way to prove how awesome you are? If you are wise, you’ll always keep some red hot embers nearby…

W. Albert Jameson, IV

On the other hand…
Spend your time and effort preventing fires so you don’t have to fight them. The best hero is the one who has the insight to avoid a crisis altogether.

Is it tempting to let fires flare up so you can be the hero and put it out? Why?

Low-Hanging Fruit

What’s the fun in doing hard stuff all the time? Cross off the easy stuff from your To Do list by plucking the low-hanging fruit. A bunch of small tasks equal a big one, right?

As you can tell, I’m a big fan of low-hanging fruit. Or, better yet, fruit that already fell and rests by my feet! Some people go to the effort of getting the fruit from the top of the tree, but that sounds like it requires strategy and planning. Worse yet, it’s probably hard work!

Leaders need to be cautious so they don’t become swamped with heroic challenges and big picture goals and many-year growth development plans.

Speaking of which, I once heard some famous guy say that leaders need to decide on a BHAG, a Big Hairy Audacious Goal, and plan to achieve it over the next TEN to THIRTY years. How do I respond to that? I don’t — instead, I just disregard.

[I don’t know about you, but I got real tired just typing about BHAGs! And that’s no good, because I am the one who has to carry this company all by myself.]

Fulfillment isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Satisfaction from a day of hard work is an elusive myth. Pay no attention to those who say you can enjoy overcoming big obstacles at work. Aim low, and hit your mark every time.

Imagine I came to an epic conclusion of how wise it is to accomplish easy things so you can have more crossed off of your list. Pretend I had another witty example of how silly it is to create audacious goals. Envision your freshly-changed perspective on the topic thanks to how well I drove home the point in this post.

I would have written that paragraph above — honest — but it would have been too… um, easy.

W. Albert Jameson, IV

On the other hand…
Satisfaction and fulfillment are the rewards for overcoming obstacles and tackling challenges. Embrace difficult tasks to build endurance, unify your team members, and reinforce your company’s values. Stop going after the easy achievements and go after big, meaningful, worthwhile goals.