Elmer builds roofs and runs construction crews. One afternoon he went fishing with one of his employees. Same bait, same hole, same fishing pole, but he was catching nothing, and his buddy was raking them in.

“How come you’re catching all the fish?” Elmer asked.

“It’s ‘cause I have to, Mr. Elmer,” he replied.

One man was fishing for fun; the other man was fishing because that would be all his family would be eating that night.


Intentionality is one of the higher-level emotional intelligence competencies. It means saying what you mean and meaning what you say. It means intending to do something and then staying focused until you’ve done it.

It also means, and this is the tricky part, being accountable for the motives behind your actions. You can see in this little tale, if you’re doing something just for fun or relaxation, the outcome can be very different than if you’re doing it for a serious purpose.

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” and so we add the “ality” on the end, which is a commitment to action. It means following through until the “intention” becomes a reality.


Intentionality is work. Here’s a picture of work horse all hitched up and ready to go. Notice the harness and the blinders. When the farmer gets ready to go to work, he puts the harness and blinders on the horses. This is their signal it’s time to go to work. The blinders keep out any peripheral distractions.

When you’re ready to get intentional about your life, keep this picture in mind. Get serious. Put on the harness and the blinders, figuratively. Then you can only see what’s in front of you – your row to hoe, as it were – and you’ll likely finish the task.

Author's Bio: 

Susan Dunn helps clients get organized and achieve more with personal coaching, the Don't Die at 50 Weekly Organizational Calendar, the Gooding Accountability System, Internet courses and ebooks. Visit her on the web at www.susandunn.cc and mailto:sdunn@susandunn.cc to get help.