In my past, I’ve often heard a proverb stating that “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”. It made a lot of sense to me then. I had often seen how good intentions had no follow-up. I had also often heard people trying to excuse their behavior with their good intentions. Independently from the good intentions, the best way to deal with such a situation is to recognize the consequence of our action and its impact on others.
In a culture in which performance is often measured to compare ourselves, this proverb has helped to make result more relevant than the intention or the action itself. It’s the road towards perfection.
As I’m observing clients deal with results, I can see two ways they expect results instead of creating them. It’s a method to fail.
One way to fail is to work towards a result that has to happen. People do it by raising their expectations of how their customers will like their product or how much they will buy it. Such a result is an external type of result, something that depends on the reaction of others and that can only be validated by others. This makes it easy to fail both: the work and the relationship.
A different way to look at our work is to plan a project, product or service and imagine what it will do, how it will serve others or what change it will allow doing. Yes, this way to look at things still needs to have customers show up and buy it. What it does though, is to distinguish between the work we do and the relationship we have with our audience. The better we know our audience, the better our ability to do work they will appreciate.
A second way to fail is to expect the other person to react in a specific way. This happens for example when asking questions about a subject and seeking to create a specific result by asking that question. It’s a road built on arguments and establishing what the “right” answer is. The relationship becomes one of status and power. It’s missing to see, that both might be looking at the subject from a different point of view.
A different way to act is to be curious about the other person’s point of view. To be genuinely interested to know what the other person can contribute to the common subject. To remain aware of differences in understanding and seeing the nuance. It allows establishing common ground. It’s only then, that arguments can become a useful method to come to a conclusion.
While results need to be achieved, there is no reason to expect others to bring the results.
We can set our intention and attitude of mind to contribute to the results we want to achieve. Once this is done, the results will take care of themselves.