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Lessons from the "Incline": Part 2, the letter “I”--Intentionality...

This is the second in a series of 9 articles, titled: “Lessons from the Incline.” These leadership lessons were realized while during weekly hikes up the Manitou Incline in Colorado. The incline starts at 6,600 feet above sea level and gains almost 2,000 feet in just under one mile. The average grade for the trail is 45% and as steep as 68% in places. It’s.. No… Joke… Below is an actual photo of the incline from last winter.

Intentionality: To be intentional... To operate with intent... As we head up that incline, we have to be intentional about so many things. Did we pack enough food for the journey? Did we give ourselves plenty of time to hydrate in the days prior to the ascent? Did we map out our route? Have we trained enough to accomplish the task? As the list of intentional questions goes on, leadership principals begin to emerge. Intentionality isn't just about leading in product sales or marketing, but goes deep into knowing your people and building a culture of intentionality.

As leaders, we have to understand how intentionality plays into goal making, setting up our teams to succeed, and having that inertia to move forward when it seems impossible. Leaders have to begin with the end in mind and must be intentional along the way. Bascially, a leader must ask themselves, “Do I have a plan and do I know how I am going to execute that plan?” As we think about leadership and words that begin with "I", the list of motivating words is long. So, let’s dissect some of these while grounding ourselves in the concept of being intentional.

Intuition: Intuition is the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning. At first glance, one may assume that intuition is the opposite of intentionality, but in reality, they go hand in hand. To be intuitive is to understand what needs to happen on the spot. Some people may say that following your intuition is leading from your gut. When tackling a 14,000-foot mountain, intuition goes beyond the mental game. You have to pay attention to the idiosyncrasies of the path ahead and understand how high you need to pick your feet up off the ground. That root sticking up is a sure way to put a halt to your ascent, but intuition lets you make those calculations in a seemingly unconscious manner. You just know... Intuition, from a leadership standpoint, is about being bold and making decisions while at the same time being intentional about how you come to that decision. Intuition comes with experience. In order to gain this experience, leaders have to be intentional about learning from their mistakes, failing forward, and trying new things.

Insight: Insight is the understanding of a specific cause and effect within a particular context. Insight, like intuition is often a product of hard-won experience. Conquering an incline requires keen insight. You have to know that if you start off in a full out sprint, you will undoubtedly burn yourself out before you reach the top. As leaders, insight is a key that unlocks many doors. Leaders have to understand the cause and effect of their actions on a business level, within their staff, and outside of work as well. Not only are good leaders insightful within their product and business model, they also have insight into their people—what are their strengths, weaknesses and what motives them to stay engaged. Having insight as a leader is knowing what will happen before it happens. Now, I know that good leaders are not fortune tellers, but a good leader understands that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. They understand that what they do matters and have thought about the good and potentially negative consequences and are intentional about their actions.

As we walk this incline adventure, we have to be intentional about taking time to enjoy the journey - look around and experience everything around you - sights and sounds. Understand that there is more than one way to the summit. In translation to leadership, there is more than one way to become successful. However, this success is highly dependent on your intentionality as a leader. Be intentional in everything you do! Build an intentional culture! Be intentional about the small things, and the big things, like the incline, will be easier than you think!

Stay tuned! We will be covering these and other leadership principles as we lead a 1-day peak coaching experience, The Leadership Summit Expedition, up America’s Mountain—Pike’s Peak in the summer of 2022. Contact me (Dr. Travis Hearne) at for more information. Start strong, and finish well!

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