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Mindful Resilience: Intention


Paul MacCormack

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Imagine for a moment your life as a Superintendent without the idea of intention. Think of all the cultural practices, data collection and measurements. Think of crew management and leadership development. Think of all the things that we accomplish during the course of the season that require vision, discipline and intention. If our daily processes are not rooted in our core values; and they are not the soil from which everything else grows, the season can be long indeed.

Goals and discipline are key functions of intention. Having the vision that one intends towards is vital to achieving what we set out to do. Being able to see the eventual destination is a large part of having a holistic view of our operations. Breaking the overall goals down into smaller, intermediary goals also allows us to better measure our short term progress and keep us on task.

But approaching intention with a purely scientific mindset leaves something on the table. If we are too attached to this rigidity, then we miss out on the opportunity to explore themes like flexibility, forgiveness and flow. When setting our intentions for both our operations and our lives, we must build in capacity for adaptation and change; and it’s within these themes we discover the resilience that intention builds into a system.

When setting our intentions for both our operations and our lives, we must build in capacity for adaptation and change...

When we adopt a more flexible approach to intention, it doesn’t mean that we abandon the notion of discipline. Placing our intention on a goal or core value and then sticking with it is absolutely essential if we want to build a solid foundation. It’s also a key element in looking at something over the long term, the place where most things worth doing are found.

One can have both a disciplined and flexible mindset simultaneously. We can have the intention to stay with something even though we are willing to change and adapt when circumstances shift. Think of the last couple of years as a good example. Many of our systems both at work and internally were challenged in ways we couldn’t have conceived of previously. Yet if we were flexible and open to these changes, while at the same time grounded in our core values, then we were better able to deal with the constant stream of uncertainty the pandemic presented us with.

Inevitably when setting intentions and incorporating them into our lives, we will fail. It’s an inescapable part of life. But how do we respond to the situation when it doesn’t pan out how our initial vision told us it would? Again flexibility and adaptation are vital elements, but so also is the concept of awareness and forgiveness. A powerful sign of resilience arises from our ability to veer off course, recognize that we are not where we need to be and then offer ourselves forgiveness. We simply cannot achieve our goals in a mindful way if upon failure we use judgement and shame as a means to get back on track. When we acknowledge that things are not where we need them to be, we need to use awareness and forgiveness as the main tools for turning the ship around.

A powerful sign of resilience arises from our ability to veer off course, recognize that we are not where we need to be and then offer ourselves forgiveness...

When we practice combining the ideas of discipline, flexibility, awareness and forgiveness something happens. We find ourselves more in tune with the natural flow of life. We are not struggling to swim against the current and out of step with the way of things. We have more clarity and focus, and are better able to choose our responses based on our intentions. Inevitably life becomes more enjoyable.

So much of our journey as both Superintendents and human beings involves setting our intentions and creating a life that honors them. Whether we want to measure green speed on a daily basis to better evaluate our inputs or we want to be more kind to those around us, living with intention will help along the way. When we get blown off course we have to be willing to honestly look at the situation, adapt to the new reality, and start over. The willingness to start over in any moment and let go of what was is a key skill in finding our way back to our original intentions. And the more you are willing to follow that trail, the more enjoyable the journey will be.

Thanks for reading.

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