Inspire and Empower Your Brain To Succeed:
Establishing Command Intent in Your Life's Five Key Areas
In this AdvantEdge Guide we’ll discuss how establishing Command Intent is a more specific way of setting goals than SMART goals, as it has an embedded purpose. It involves imagining a successful future in each of five areas of life (your Rocket Ship for Life), and focusing on the senses of sight, feel, smell, taste, and sound to create a captivating and rich picture. For teams, the unit in charge of military simulations for NATO recommends asking themselves "if I do nothing else tomorrow, I must ____, so that ____". AdvantEdge Coaching can help to further equip and empower individuals to reach their Command Intent goals.
Why do we need a Rocket Ship for Life?
The Rocket Ship for Life came about because I used to suffer from a major problem. Basically, I was easily distracted. Teachers’ could rarely get, let alone keep, my attention. I’d start a new project only to quickly get bored or frustrated and move onto the next shiny object. If ADHD had been popular back then, perhaps, I could have gotten myself medicated for it!
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It wasn’t because I lacked goals. I had much that I wanted to achieve in my career. But, for some strange reason, I was always looking for something. I couldn’t get or keep focus long enough to stick with it and finish.
The big issue it turned out was not lack of clear goals, not an inability to focus it was that there were gaps in what I was trying to achieve. There was no balance. What many have badly described as work/life balance - but what I prefer to call work/life integration. It’s where you identify your desired intent in the five key areas of your life as the drivers of the things that you do every day, steered by your values and aligned to your overall purpose or mission in this life.
If you ask most people what they want from life, they’ll tell you a variation of “to be happy and successful”. What the Bible calls “Good Success” in Joshua 1:8.
Some people think that more money will make them happy. The problem is money is a great servant but a lousy master.
And so what if you achieve great success at work if you spend all your time at work and neglect your family and health?
As I mentioned, we have identified five key areas in life that, when attended to fully, will bring you real happiness and success as you fulfil them.
What are the five key areas?
These five key areas are like the engines of a rocket ship that you ride towards your life purpose. Your values are the way you steer and choose which paths you are following. The five areas that we’ve uncovered through our research are:
1. Family and Relationships
2. Health and Wellbeing
3. Spiritual Fulfilment
4. Personal Development
5. Work and Career
As you can imagine, like most people, I’d paid great attention to Work and Career and found it increasingly difficult to keep steering straight. I was working 80 plus hours each week (this was in the days when I was in the hotel and restaurant business) with no breaks, rarely a weekend off and scant holidays. I got away with it health wise for a good few years, but it shouldn’t have surprised me when my body rebelled and finally got me to pay a lot more attention to my health and wellbeing when my heart threw a hissy fit on July 4th 2014 at 11:33!
When you neglect an engine, it’s always going to be much more difficult to keep going towards your purpose, and very easy to get blown off course. It’s why your life and work are “off-balance.”
In the many years I have been coaching, fewer than 20% have anything remotely resembling “balance”. And they’ve usually been coached before or have had their own health or personal life crisis.
There’s many a successful person in the boardroom whose family life is in shambles.
Why these five areas and is one more important than the others?
As you think about each one you’ll realise that if you stop feeding one of these areas and consider the repercussions in your own life:
If you show no ambition in your work, your career stagnates and it just becomes a routine you could do with your eyes shut. Your brain becomes inactive and you are simply marking time until one day you retire… and then what?
Or you don’t bother with personal development after school or college and you learn nothing new. Now everything in your life stagnates. Your brain is bored (it is a learning machine). When your brain is bored, you get depressed through lack of Serotonin and Dopamine and opt-out of everything else life has to offer.
Neglect your spirtual man and there’s a big hole in your life. An emptiness that you can’t quite put your finger on. You’ll try and fill it with all sorts of other things but nothing seems to satisfy.
Neglect your health and well-being and your body will, one day, sooner or later, quit entirely. Your brain tried to keep you not dead (that is it's job) but somehow you resisted that urge until it too gave up fighting you.
Neglect your family and or relationships and you will soon be alone. And humans are social animals. You have an innate desire to belong to a tribe, to matter to others.
We all need all of these engines and just like a vehicle engine, you need to keep it maintained properly.
The trouble is, everyone is fundamentally lazy. Or perhaps fairer to say that your brain is fundametally lazy. If there’s a “do nothing option”, your brain will take it because doing anything requires effort which burns scarce energy. So, if you do not deliberately attend to each of your engines, your brain will neglect them until something breaks.
If we’re going to burn fuel in these five areas, you're saying that we need to have a reason for doing so.
Each engine needs a driver or motivation for the brain to switch from it’s default “do nothing” to “do something” to get... whatever we intend to get.
So we need to tell our brain specifically what we intend to get once we do something. Then your brain is prepared to spend precious fuel in that area.
Why not set a simple Goal? Or even a SMART goal?
Goals are great, and SMART goal even better. However, Command Intent is usually more suited to changing situations (which is real life) and, very importantly, has an embedded purpose. This is what turns your brain on to motivation.
I've written extensively on why goal-setting matters - here for those wanting to know more.
Establishing Command Intent in each area Really Matters then?
Absolutely, noone climbs aboard a space rocket ready to launch into the heavens and then asks, “so where shall we go today?”
And noone replies, “I don’t know, let’s just start her up and go from there.”
No. Everytime there is a clear command intent for the mission and each and every engine has a very precise role in achieveing that intent to help the rocket ship and crew fulfil that mission.
What’s the difference between purpose, mission and intent?
We don’t have time here to delve into the difference between purpose and intent, suffice to say for now - your purpose is why you were born (it's your overall mission), your command intents are what you achieve along the journey to fulfill your purpose or mission in life.
Let’s get practical: How do you Establish Command Intent in each of these five Areas of Your Life?
Ask most people what they intend to achieve in their career (their career goal), for example, and you’ll probably get a vague answer about money, position, happiness level, and maybe a job title. Honestly, that’s about as useful as telling a blind footballer that the goal is at the end of the pitch.
“Which end?” you ask. And many other questions besides, not least is “how will you know when you have scored a goal?”
So we change the question…
Establishing a Command Intent for anything is simply a case of answering the question:
What does success look like?
And when I use the word “look” - I mean all your senses (look, feel, taste, smell, sound). And be as specific as you can be.
And, when we’re asking what does it “look like” - we mean literally what do (will) you see with your eyes in reality and in as much detail as you can.
Repeat with feel (emotions AND touch), smell (the most evocative and immediate of your senses), taste and sound.
And if it’s not evident in your answers: “How will you know that you have acheived it?” (i.e. how will you measure your acheivements?)
Ask, what will you Win or gain (and lose) when you have achieved it? (This is the embedded purpose).
And lastly, “by when?”
Now that you have a very rich, sensory description, you will have a captivating picture of your future.
And You Do this for all Five Areas of Your Life?
You’ll find it helpful and inspirational to have a clear command intent in all five areas of your life: Your work and career; your family and relationships; your spiritual life; your health and your personal development. Making sure that they support each other and are congruent. Miss one area and you risk struggling to steer your life purposefully forward.
You said, “by when?” - is this just for the long term future?
It’s best to have Command Intents for the short, medium and long term.
Most clients also find it helpful to establish these command intent’s in three time frames of short, medium and long term futures - whatever is short, medium or long term for you.
A little aside on future time frames - most teens struggle with a long term time frame of 10 years, as do most young adults. As we get older, it becomes easier to imagine further into the future.
If you lead a team, then you are responsible for identifying a worthy and compelling vision and articulating it to the team. People continually need to be shown the team's compass clearly and creatively so that their actions align, and they stay motivated with a captivating picture of their future.
In their book, “Made to Stick”, Chip and Dan Heath share help from the unit in charge of military simulations for NATO, the Combat Maneuver Training Center, who recommend that officers arrive at the Commander’s Intent by asking themselves this question. I’ve adjusted this for use with your personal intents:
“If I do nothing else tomorrow, I must . . . , so that . . .
Answer this question in each of your five key life areas and every day, you will have that often elusive, almost mythical: balance.
Where can you go to learn more now?
As an AdvantEdge Coaching client, we’ll help you fine tune your Rocket Ship for Life so that you have a crystal clear picture of the future you and what your success in each of these areas of your life look like and we’ll guide you on the path that will equip and empower you to achieve them. Apply for your complimentary AdvantEdge Discovery session today.
Or you can take up our 6-part Rocket Launch Coaching Program which is designed to help you Establish Your Command Intent in each of the five key areas of your life, then help you identify the core values, beliefs and habits to support your mission. You’ll be more equipped and empowered to achieve your purpose with a practical, systematic and proven approach to transforming your life and moving you closer to the future you. Apply for your complimentary AdvantEdge Discovery session today.
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