When I was a teacher, I constantly heard the following statements from students:
“But, I didn’t mean to…”
“Ms. Davis, that wasn’t my intention…”
“I was just joking…”
Between hearing that and hearing an excellent principal at a KIPP school in New Jersey speak about impact versus intention, I knew I would eventually have to write about this.
Here’s the bottom line: Impact trumps intention. Period.
Or as I heard the KIPP school principal say, “Impact eats intention for lunch every day of the week.”
While it sounds mean, it doesn’t matter what you intended to do. What really matters is the impact that is a result of those actions. I get so tired of hearing people try to excuse their impact because of their intentions. It’s nice that you didn’t mean to hurt my feelings, or that you didn’t intend for that to happen; but it did. I need for you to own your behavior, and stop looking for me to excuse it because it wasn’t your intention.
The best way to fix this is by being thoughtful and intentional in our words and actions. If we are always looking to say what we mean, and if we mean what we say; there is less chance that we’ll be in a situation where we have to retract our words or apologize for our actions. Taking time to think about the consequences and repercussions of our behavior can go a long way. And we must stop looking to apologize away our behavior. Apologies don’t fix everything, and we can’t expect an apology to heal a wound.
In this new year, I encourage you to not just think about your intention, but the potential impact of your words or actions. Let us always look to leave a positive impact and impression on others.