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The key to being authentic – choosing how to respond ahead of time.

Set your intention ahead of those crucial conversations to stay true to who you are.

Setting intention to be authentic
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Have you ever walked out of a conversation wondering “What the heck just happened?!?!” or “Why did I agree to that?” or “Why did I say that?”

At the speed of light, your brain starts to pick apart everything that went wrong, the things you shouldn’t have said or done, and you feel yourself go down into a shame spiral.

Stop right there.

Take a minute to breathe.

First of all, be proud of yourself. You just noticed that you acted in a way that isn’t in line with who you want to be and how you want to show up. Go you!

Now, promise yourself to take a few minutes when you are in a better headspace to go over the situation and create your intention for how you will handle a similar situation the next time it arises. Because it will happen again.

Most of our responses are habit. They have been learned for a reason. Noticing the habit and making a conscious effort to change it is a very big step. But of course, noticing is not enough. Now you need to work at deciding on your responses.

Deciding on your responses.

To spark change, it must come from within.

It must exist in thought, in spite of the circumstances that presently surround you.

Mike Dooley

The best time to start deciding on your responses is before a high-stakes, emotional conversation happens. Take some time during your day when you have the greatest mental capacity to see clearly. Then ask yourself some clarifying questions about who you want to be and how you want to show up. Setting intention is the quickest way to start to see some results.

Journaling is great for this. In her book The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron describes how her practice of morning pages help her do a brain dump. I started this 15 years ago after I first read her book. It is a beautiful exercise where you write as fast as you can for three full pages of longhand in what she calls ‘stream of consciousness writing.’

After doing this, I am always in a clear-headed space where I can literally feel my way into how I want to show up. You, too, can use this time and method to decide how you want to show up.

Then practice, practice, practice. See yourself responding in the way you want. Really picture it. Say it out loud if you need to so you can hear it as well. And then go out and keep trying!


This is the second in a five-part series about leading your life, and your team, with intention. To check out more like this, get my new book Conquering Busyness that contains a link to a FREE workbook about learning how to be an effective leader.

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