Setting Your Intention

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Setting Your Intention

Black Belt Leadership
Setting Your Intention
John L. Terry, III - The Black Belt Leader

In the martial arts world, as in life, athletes spend weeks, sometimes months, preparing for their next bout in the ring or cage. Countless hours of relentless striking, kicking, transitioning, and grappling. Doing the same movements over and over again until they become second nature. Studying your opponent's fighting style, looking for a chink in their armor you can exploit. Sparring with opponents who fight in a similar fashion, Add to that cardio, flexibility and strength training,

Then comes the day of the fight. Fighters arrive early, go through the rules meeting and make their way to the dressing rooms where their hands are wrapped and the warm-up preparation for the fight begins. The trainer not only focuses on getting the fighter physically warmed up, he spends considerable time talking to his fighter, motivating, challenging, inspiring, and setting his intention. Before he ever sets foot in the ring, the fighter has already seen the fight take place, and he's already won the battle.

He is setting his intention.

Tennis great, Serena Williams, even goes so far in her mental preparation that she envisions what she will do after she wins a tournament. In her mind, the match has already taken place and she sees herself as the winner. Whether she drops to her knees, throws her hands up in celebration, or simply steps forward to shake her opponent's hand at the net is meticulously played out in her mind before the match ever begins.

She is setting her intention.

Productivity, or the lack of it, starts with a thought. Our thoughts act as a filter through which we make the choices that will manifest themselves as the consequences of our lives. Make good choices and we experience a better outcome. The reverse is also true.

Great leaders understand that what you pay attention to, you become intentional about. The importance of setting the intention for themselves, and the team they are leading, is paramount to success. High-performance teams are just that because they are intentional about who they are and what they do.

So how to great leaders focus? Set intention?

They keep the main thing the main thing. Every morning they spend the first 30-60 minutes of their day in mental preparation for what is to come. They read something educational, inspirational, or motivational. They meditate on what they've read, thinking into how they can apply what they read to become a better version of themselves. Then, they identify the three most important things that must be accomplished that day and make those a priority throughout the day.

Great leaders then share this openly with their Team what they are learning, experiencing, and the priorities the Team must embrace and accomplish together. They remind the Team of the WHY these priorities are important, but allows the Team members to figure out the HOW, allowing them to take ownership of the process to make results happen.

Great leaders remind their Teams what they pay attention to they become intentional about. That's how high-performance teams get things done.
By definition, being intentional is to possess a state of mind that directs his or her action toward a specific object or goal. Success and significance cannot be experienced in a life that is distracted, unfocused, or lacks direction. Great leaders understand this mindset must first begin with them, and then cultivated and nurtured in the minds of those they are leading. Setting intentions up-front creates a means for which accountability standards can be established, monitored, and maintained.

Setting intention also establishes the benchmarks for measuring success. Once the destination is identified (the WHAT), the timeline is set (the WHEN), the Team can then map out the course (the HOW) to get there. Now the Team can refine what they do and a high-performance team will continually evaluate their own performance, and that of the team, to not just meet the expectations, but to exceed them.

Great leaders also embrace a cause bigger than themselves (the WHY they do what they do) and invite the Team to join them on this quest to pursue a life of significance. There is something highly motivating when you're working with a Team of dedicated people who not only want to exceed expectations, but to make a difference for a cause that matters.

It starts with setting intentions.

So, here's a practical starting point for you to set your intentions each day. One of my mentors, Chris Robinson, asks himself three questions each morning when he rises and is setting his intentions for the day. Let me share them with you:

  1. What do you want to learn today?
  2. Who do you want (or need) to meet today?
  3. What do you know you need to do that you haven't done yet?

If you start each morning with a time of inspirational, motivational, or educational reading and reflection, then asking yourself these three intention-setting questions, you're starting the day off right, and you'll keep the main thing the main thing.

Remember, what you pay attention to you become intentional about.

Become intentional about daily growing yourself as a leader, because you can only lead others well to the extent you are leading yourself well.
Be intentional about setting your intentions.

Success and significance awaits.

2X martial arts Hall of Fame inductee, John Terry (The Black Belt Leader) is passionate about helping others become Black Belt Leaders in Life. He is a motivational speaker, leadership, sales & communication coach, and trainer.   

Jessie Terry, John's daughter, is a Certified Speaker, Coach, and Trainer with the John Maxwell Team and is actively involved in the JMT Global Youth Initiative. She is also a Real-Life Management trained coach and a certified Women-Safe Self-Defense Instructor.

For more information, schedule John (or Jessie) to speak to your organization or to book a personal, group or corporate coaching session, visit our website at  

If you are a faith-based organization, learn more about John and Jessie's outreach to churches, para-church organizations, or faith-based volunteer groups by visiting

John is an Executive Director with the John Maxwell Team and is passionate about helping others pursue excellence as they become "Leaders in Life". He is also a Master Coach & Trainer with Real Life Management, a human behavioral training organization helping people learn how to live "Real Life" and make better choices when it comes to relationships, money, health, and wellness. John is also a certified DISC Human Behavior Consultant.

John's newest book, Black Belt Leadership 101, released as a #1 New Release on Amazon Kindle in late March and has been on the Amazon Best Sellers List for over 2 months. Also available in paperback, this book highlights the 10 essential character traits necessary to live life as a Black Belt Leader in Life.

Why just be a leader, when you can be a Black Belt Leader?

This book includes a Discussion Guide for either your own personal growth and development or to facilitate a group discussion with your Team. Get your copy today.

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