13Intentional versus Accidental

What is the opposite of intentional? Unintentional is the obvious answer. And yet, I think a better word is accidental. Being intentional means to make things happen on purpose. Being accidental is to hope things happen by chance. Intentional living includes deliberate thoughts and plans. Accidental living, conversely, means you do not think about much. Most people live accidentally.

  • They hope that their kids grow up to be responsible.
  • They hope that they will have income to retire on.
  • They hope that their business takes off one day.
  • They hope that the new employee they hired is an all-star.

Did you notice the repetition of the word hope in the list above? With accidental living, we hold out hope as the action. With intentional living, we hold on to hope as our motivator, but we plan and act with a purpose.

Accidental leadership is non-productive in the same way that accidental parenting is dangerous to everyone. Yet it happens every day. People hope that the teachers, the neighbors, and the grandparents will help raise their kids. People hope that the new person was hired correctly because they don't have time to train them. And hope in these cases actually really means “I wish,” where we wish that all we hope for happens.

The truth is that you do not have time to not hire correctly, train your children, or apprentice the new employee. It is such a waste of money to train poorly. When we invest in people, the chances of receiving a return on ...

Get 5 Gears: How to Be Present and Productive When There Is Never Enough Time now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.