Daniel O'Shea

The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is choosing the right extra.

Separate Intention From Achievement

I’ve been thinking about changing the way I think from focus on what is achieved to being deliberate in my intention and accepting being open to what happens. I am not saying that the result doesn’t matter or is something to be ignored. In some cases the result or outcome does not matter in the grand scheme of things. I also think perhaps this shift is about rethinking what is the actual goal. Is the goal to achieve or hit some metric or to try with everything I have got? It’s been interesting to wrestle with the concept especially now during the 2020 pandemic. I see this a time where I can re-evaluate what is essential.

Separate Intention from Achievement is a mental model, or technique I learned from an improv class1. The idea is to focus fully on the intention in any action or interaction and let the result happen. A simple improv example involves a game we will call ball. The rules are simple, with a group you stand in a circle. A person in the circle starts with the ball they hit it to another person in the circle, each hit the circle counts up until the ball hits the ground or the same person hits the ball twice in a row. It’s a simple sounding game, but depending on the group, the trust between people, etc you will probably start with some very low scores. This could be disheartening if the score was your only goal. Instead focus on continuing to play, you’ll get better over time and, you may even find that the results surpass the initial target!

I’ve been thinking about this as it relates to life and how as an entrepreneur I learn a lot more from the attempt than from success. If the result was the only goal, attempts that fail to hit the goal would zap a lot of my energy. Instead I now try to focus on my intent and let the results happen. This works in all kinds of situations from difficult conversations, negotiations, and even setting OKR’s. Sometimes it means the result exceeds expectations, sometimes it means I learn something new.

Photo Credit

Photo by Milfuegos on Unsplash


  1. Bay Area Theatre Sports (BATS) Improve classes [return]