Commander's Intent

If you feel like you’ve been spinning your wheels lately, and are not happy with the pace of your progress, then take a step back and look at where you’re spending your time and energy.

“CI [Commander’s Intent] is a crisp, plain-talk statement that appears at the top of every order, specifying the plan’s goal, the desired end-state of an operation. At high levels of the Army, the CI may be relatively abstract: ‘Break the will of the enemy in the Southeast region.’ At the tactical level, for colonels and captains, it is much more concrete: ‘My intent is to have the Third Battalion on Hill 4305, to have the hill cleared of enemy, with only ineffective remnants remaining, so we can protect the flank of the Third Brigade as they pass through the lines.

The CI never specifies so much detail that it risks being rendered obsolete by unpredictable events. ‘You can lose the ability to execute the original plan, but you never lose the responsibility of executing the intent,’ says Kolditz. In other words, if there’s one soldier left in the Third Battalion on Hill 4305, he’d better be doing something to protect the flank of the Third Brigade.”

- from “Made to Stick”

Having a clear intent is not only important in combat, it’s also important when giving a talk, making a movie, etc. One place it often gets overlooked however, is in life. Having a clear intent helps you optimize your life for what you really want.

Instead of making all of your decisions in a vacuum, with a “CI” for living you can simply ask, “Does this help me achieve the CI?” This question is binary, it either gets you closer or it doesn’t. Don’t worry, your CI can change - and it will. You change, your circumstances change, change is normal.

Take a minute today and think about your current goals. Before you engage in any activity from now until you go to sleep, ask yourself, “Does this help me execute my CI?” If it doesn’t, I challenge you to ask yourself why you’re doing it then.