Empower Your Efforts by Unleashing Intent

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Value CreationI want to point everyone over to Seb Paquet’s recent post on intentcasting.  Seb defines intentcasting and intentcatching as follows:

Intentcasting is deceptively simple to describe. It consists in broadcasting your intent to make something happen.

There is a capability that is complementary to intentcasting: intentcatching. Intentcatching means connecting to an intent that has already been cast, in effect signaling, “I want this to happen too” or “We want this to happen too” and moving from a passive to an active stance towards the intent.

I point this out because intent is critical to the attitude I described in my last post.  That post argued that many people fail to develop their intrinsic motivations into full time work because they fail to apply the same standards to their efforts that they might apply to monetized work.  The claim that seemed to resonate with people was:

discipline and professionalism are actually the scarce commodities in the online space

And, discipline and professionalism cannot be had without intent.  Absent the intent to accomplish some goal or to deliver value, what basis could there be for discipline?  Seb elaborates on this idea:

At its core, intentcasting is invitation into a possible future. It is a statement of possibility and will.

Intent, invitation, will…these words all suggest specific goals…disciplined and directed efforts.  When thinking about online networks and intrinsic motivation we seem to forget that intent is important.  No one is going to reward you for benefits you did not intend to convey.  They might thank you for the convenient serendipity but that will be about it.

The Importance of Intent…from an unlikely source

This situation reminds me of the absurd opening scene from the movie Super Troopers.  Unfortunately, I can’t find the video clip so you will have to make do with my description…

Three stoners, about to get pulled over by a highway patrol car, are trying to dispose of the drugs in the vehicle.  The two guys in the front talk the third guy in the back seat into eating all the evidence.  Later in the scene the following exchange occurs:

Stoner #1: You musta eaten like a hundred bucks worth of pot and like thirty bucks worth of shrooms, man. So, uh, I’m gonna need a hundred and thrity bucks, ya know, whenever you get the chance.
Stoner #2: Fuck Man!!
Stoner #3: That’s not really cool man.

This scene is funny precisely because Stoner #1 fails to consider intent.  His buddy in the back seat didn’t intend to buy $130 worth of drugs…he was helping out the group by disposing of them.

Translating Curiosity into Intent

My intent is not to argue that you should abandon the undirected exploration that so often leads to serendipitous encounters.  For many of us that exploration is the fuel that motivates everything else.  However, if you hope to eventually earn a livable income “doing what you love”, or to simply make a meaningful contribution to the world, then you must translate that exploration into intent.

As @webisteme suggested in his comment on the last post, this might be as simple as putting out a tip jar.  That act alone indicates an intention to create something for others valuable enough that some might be willing to compensate you with a tip.

At a larger level, we hear frequently these days about the disruptive potential of cognitive surplus.  Certainly the value being created by people using their spare cognitive cycles is significant, but lost in this conversation is the fact that the platforms that enable this aggregation of value were created by people with intent.  Wikipedia did not emerge spontaneously out of random people suddenly deciding to write encyclopedia entries.  Contributions to Wikipedia are enabled by the people who built a platform with the intention to create an online encyclopedia.  Moreover, the contributors to Wikipedia piggy-back on that intent to motivate their contributions.  The whole process never gets started without the people who do the intentional, disciplined work that sets the ball rolling.

Two sentence summary:

Go read Seb’s post on Intentcasting. Then put your intent out there, let the world know what you intend to create…


If you found this useful please encourage others to articulate their own intent:


photo courtesy of On The White Line

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  • http://www.FirepoleMarketing.com Danny Iny

    “discipline and professionalism are actually the scarce commodities in the online space”

    Interesting… I’ve always felt that discipline is one of those things that most people misunderstand – they see it as having the willpower to force yourself to do something you don’t want to do… whereas I think it’s really more about having the presence of mind to choose what you want over what you feel like in a given moment.

    So is a culture of instant gratification undermining our ability to create the outcomes that we really want? Is presence of mind the real scarce commodity?

    • http://OnTheSpiral.com/ GregoryJRader

      Absolutely agree regarding willpower. I would accept substituting “presence of mind” for “discipline”. In this context I might definite “discipline” as “adherence to one’s own intent”. Or as you say, “he presence of mind to choose what you want over what you feel like in a given moment”.

      I will have to think about how instant gratification plays into this. The attitude I am arguing against specifically here is less influenced by instant gratification and more taken by the notion of crowdsourcing or user generated content. My point is that all these crowdsourced contributions required someone with intent to direct them towards a meaningful outcome. Without intent its just noise…

      • http://www.FirepoleMarketing.com Danny Iny

        I think crowd-sourcing and UGC is a good idea… in some cases. It’s used often when it isn’t a good idea, and in that case I think it’s a cop-out – people wanting results without putting in the necessary efforts. Isn’t that a problem of instant gratification?

        • http://OnTheSpiral.com/ GregoryJRader

          Interesting proposition Danny…I wasn’t really thinking about instant gratification as the compliment to laziness or shallow thinking. Not sure exactly how I was interpreting it initially, as now your meaning seems quite intuitive.

          Here is part of what has me still cogitating on this apparently straight-forward point:
          In a lot of situations instant gratification is a good thing. One of the major benefits that the internet technology is providing is that it allows you to accomplish many tasks more incrementally. If you want to start a blog you can get a really simple platform up in 5 minutes and then gradually build it out. That is instant gratification as a positive. Likewise, if you start using twitter you accumulating followers gradually and the instant gratification of RTs and such dramatically reduce barriers to entry. Again this is a positive.

          So with regard to contributing to crowdsourced commons, I think you can legitimately believe that doing so is a positive…that you are not being lazy but instead being efficiently incentivized and rewarded for producing something of value.

          However, your point begs the question: To what end?
          I think you are correct that this is a cop-out if we then stop pushing forward and find ourselves satisfied with our 5-minute blogs or our steadily growing twitter followings or whatever. That instant gratification is a positive if it allows us to avoid reinventing the wheel and so we can redirect our efforts towards more significant challenges.

          Summary: Instant gratification is a positive if it helps us overcome the initial barriers and get started, but a negative if, as you say, it undermines our ability to push further and do the hard work.

          Agree? Thoughts?

          • http://www.FirepoleMarketing.com Danny Iny

            Absolutely agree – you nailed it, Greg. :)

            This could be expanded into a good post in and of itself… ;)

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