There is a Zen saying, “To know and not to do is not yet to know.”

There is one thing that nearly every executive, every salesperson, every employee of every stripe knows but very, very few will take the time to do.  It is the single most important, dare I say, “critical” step to success and yet it is so obvious and so elementary that most people simply ignore it and then wonder why they struggle with little success to show for their efforts.

This crucial, well-known but often overlooked step is to set a clear and detailed intention for what you want.

“Yeah, yeah; blah, blah, blah” you’re probably thinking.  But imagine this: You open your Internet browser to an online store that offers thousands of various products.  You look at the vast array of offerings for a moment and, when you are ready to purchase, you place a blindfold over your eyes that completely obscures your vision.

Finding your mouse by touch you begin clicking wildly and randomly placing one arbitrary item after another into your shopping cart.  After a few moments, you hit the “enter” key confirming your order.

Days later, when the UPS driver shows up with a hodge-podge of goods, some useful and many not, you are bewildered that you did not fully receive what you wanted.

You would never shop like this but it’s amazing how many people do this every day in their businesses and their lives.

I have used the power of setting a clear intention and it is almost frightening how well it works.  Here are a few person examples:

Setting clear and detailed intentions works every time—EVERY time.

1. A few years ago, a friend of mine was moving from Phoenix, AZ to Orlando.  She called and asked if I would fly down to Orlando and help her hunt for a new home.

“No,” I said, “I won’t help you hunt for a new home; but I’ll help you FIND your new home.”

She laughed nervously and then asked what I meant. I responded, “I really want to help you but I’m too busy to waste several days driving all over Orlando as you compare homes trying to decide what type of house you want, at what price, with what amenities and in what type of neighborhood.  If, however, you will make a detailed list of everything you want in your new home, I’ll come down and help you celebrate finding it.”

I then told her that as soon as she emailed me the detailed list I would book my flight to Orlando.

She sent me the list and we both read it over once each day until the day.  Our first morning in Orlando, we had an appointment scheduled with a real estate agent to view several homes.  However, right before we left to meet the realtor, my friend felt a sudden and unexplained inspiration to pick up a newspaper and read the real estate offerings.

Reading one of the ads the gasped.  It was as if the seller had read my friends list of intentions in a new home.  That was the first home we looked at and she and her family are still living there happily.

You can’t be too detailed or too clear

2. Recently, we were looking to move to new office space and made a list of 38 things we wanted in our new building. Some of the requirements were practical, others were extravagant and some were downright silly.  I handed the list out and invited everyone to read the list daily.

At one point it seemed like we would have to settle for a place that was “close”—it had about 90% of what we wanted; but I insisted we hold the intention that we’d get everything.

We did.

Everything from the practical to the extravagant and even the silly—it all showed up at the price we had said we would pay, in the area of the city where we wanted to locate.

Know that other people are going to tell you it won’t work!

3. A few months ago, I needed to hire someone to fill a very unique and skilled position.  “You’ll never find anyone to do the job,” many people told me.

When I heard this, rather than narrow my list of criteria so as to increase the odds of getting “someone,” I expanded my list believing that I would find and hire “the right one!”  I wrote out an entire single-spaced page of professional and attitudinal qualities my new employee would have.  I read the list every morning.

“Someone this perfect doesn’t exist.” A friend told me.

Well, she does exist and she now works for me.

It’s interesting to note that the person who told me I’d never be able to find such an ideal employee is now looking to hire someone himself.  I explained that all he needs to do is right out a clear and detailed intention for the person he wants to hire and read it daily.

For some reason, he has time to complain that he “can’t find the right person” but he can’t seem to find the time to write out clearly and in detail what attributes the ideal person would possess.

He’s shopping blindfolded.

Do you need a certain type of employee, supplier, situation, or solution?  Then write it out in detail—the more the better.  Then read it, daily.  Put it on your desk, your bathroom mirror, in your car, anywhere you will see it.

Then, trust the process.

You can go through the drama of taking whatever comes your way and dealing with the result; or, you can be very clear and detailed and enjoy reduced stress and greater success.

Oddly enough, only a very few people will take the latter approach. They are the ones who seem to magnetically and effortlessly attract what they desire time after time.

I’ve always got such a list in front me because there is something I’m always wanting.

How about you?