How to Align Your Actions with Your Intentions (and Why It’s Essential)
“Imagine you’re a piece of bread inside a toaster,” a yoga teacher told me, to help me align my body properly in trikonasana (triangle pose.). Your body can’t touch the sides or you’ll burn the toast.”
The alignment tip made me smile, and it helped me understand the action I needed to reach my intention — to stack one hip directly above the other, and lengthen my spine forward, not down.
My personal priority in yoga is to straighten my spine, since Mother Nature decided to throw me a curve called scoliosis. Every action I take to align works toward that goal. “Action,” Gandhi told us, “expresses priorities.”
Aligning actions with intentions
Recently we rebranded our company. It was time to synchronize our marketing messages with the company we are today, after tremendous growth and expansion. We wanted to align our image with our intention to provide sophisticated counsel and knowledge-driven resources to help clients succeed.
We had to realign the distinct brands of two divisions without creating confusion in the market. We needed to recreate everything: logo, websites, tradeshow booths, collateral, even the coffee mugs. And it had to happen swiftly once the decision was made so that clients would see the new Kaufman Rossin for our busiest time of year.
Pretty big project, right?
Plenty of branding agencies would have done an excellent job for us, but I had a different intention: To reward my high-performance team with an opportunity to take their work to a new level.
For 52 years we have always put our people first, and that’s more than just a marketing message. Offering opportunities to stretch and grow helps keep talented people engaged and satisfied in their work. So we took on the rebranding project as a team challenge — everything from strategy to creative to implementation. It was the biggest, most integrated project we’ve ever done together.
My goal was to give every member of the team, from the most experienced to the newest, a chance to shine. As I explained to a respected colleague whose business is branding, this was an opportunity I wish I had been given when I was their age. I aligned my actions with my priorities, and the result was a motivated team that went above and beyond to deliver a great result.
My vision is a world where women and girls have equal rights, access and opportunity. I try to align my actions with that intention, and not to be discouraged when it is challenging. It’s a lot like aligning my hips in trikonasana — every day I need to refocus on that intention. Here are some ways that I put my intentions into action:
- In my state of Florida, 24.4 percent of the state legislature is female, though women represent 51 percent of our population. What can I do? Help get women to the polls.
- Recently, The New York Times reported on a study of student evaluations. The reporter wrote, “It suggests that people tend to think more highly of men than women in professional settings, praise men for the same things they criticize women for, and are more likely to focus on a woman’s appearance or personality and on a man’s skills and intelligence.” What can I do? Help women I encounter to be articulate and confident, and teach male and female managers to treat everyone fairly.
- According to The 2014 State Of Women-Owned Businesses Report, “[T]he net daily rate of new women owned firms was 602 in 2011-2012, 744 in 2012-2013, and this year is up to an all-time high: an estimated 1,288 new women-owned firms have started each day over the past year.” What can I do? Help them by sharing my knowledge in management, marketing, and communication.
Try this practice: This week, take one action that expresses your priority. What do you want to see in the world, your business, your community? Identify three specific ways your vision isn’t real yet. For each of the examples, ask, “What can I do?” Take one of those actions, to show the world your intention.
Janet Kyle Altman leads the marketing team at Kaufman Rossin, one of the top accounting firms in the country. She also is vice chair of The Women’s Fund of Miami-Dade and former chair of Friends of WLRN. A frequent writer and lecturer, Janet’s daily practice of leadership is focused on the vision that women and girls should have equal rights, access and opportunity.
Janet Altman is a Marketing Principal at Kaufman Rossin, one of the Top 100 CPA and advisory firms in the U.S.