Habit #5 Intention and Expectation: The Impact on the Class

12/28/2011 01:17 pm ET | Updated Feb 27, 2012
  • Willow Dea Change Management Consultant, Author, Coach, Speaker

An intention is open ended, while expectation can have a very different effect on the culture of the class. Why? Intention allows for a unique process to unfold organically, while an expectation can foil that unfolding. An expectation can act as an inertial fulcrum in the morphogenic field, shutting out possibilities for emergent learning, rather than encouraging spontaneity and creativity.

By definition, an intention is attention that's consciously applied to an area of focus. One might set an intention for the next hour, day, week or year. By contrast, an expectation means to await, to consider reasonable, due or necessary a specific outcome, while the connotation is that something is probable or certain.

Expectations carry a certain weight and sense of attachment, as if one might experience loss if the outcome is different than expected, versus an open curiosity to the present moment, and the unfolding of that particular moment. There is a distinct, yet subtle difference between setting an intention for a class, and having an expectation for the outcome of a class.

When we expect something, we set ourselves up for an argument with reality.

What I mean is that when we expect something, we've already created a narrative about "how it's going to go" and are firmly expecting that story to unfold. It's a set up for failure! Reality, in all its ordinariness, is ultimately going to win. We're wise to accept that fact, and enjoy the actual sequence of events in the class.

When we intend something, and are open to the actual (and possibly different) outcome, there's an opportunity to learn, stay curious and be with a new, perhaps better outcome. We cannot fully know the impact of our thoughts, words and actions. Ultimately, we need to trust that teaching from authentic clarity and integrity will serve those learning from us.

"Don't play the saxophone. Let it play you." -- Charlie Parker