Once I employed a pilot to fly our aircraft. He was a very nice person, but we had some differences of opinion. Once I needed to be flown someplace, and he said, “No, I’m taking the day off to do something with my family.” I said, “Well, your family’s important, but so is your job and income. Flying me where I need to go is the way you make your living to support your family.”

Rather than argue with him, I let him go. Now, this man and his family lived in the same small community where we have our ranch. Their family lived close to us, and they were good friends. But his wife was furious with me when she learned that I made him make a decision to fly or find another job. And so, there wasn’t much good said about me for a while.

Some time later, Diane and I were at the ranch, and we saw my former pilot’s wife driving up in her car. She had a couple of her children with her in the car. I didn’t want to spend any time talking to her about this situation, so I chose to creatively avoid it. I said, “Diane, you go ahead and say hello and see what she wants. I’ve got a phone call I need to make.”

I went into my office and pretended to make a phone call. But my intent was to avoid being around her. She was a bother to me right now because she was upset with me. And with her was a five-year old Philippine boy she was trying to adopt, even though he had some serious behavior problems.

how to decide in life

In fact, the kid came right into my office and started pulling on my leg, grabbing my pants and trying to drag me out to see his mother. I couldn’t kick the kid away, so I decided to go out and “get it over with.” That was my attitude, my spirit of intent. “Just be pleasant, and soon it’ll be over with.”

I entered the room with a false smile on my face. To my surprise, she didn’t bring up the incident with her husband, but instead she said they were heading to Seattle to finalize the adoption of this boy. And I said, “Oh, that’s wonderful.”

While she and Diane talked, I started thinking about the adoption of our own children. My heart softened, and I said, “The adoption ceremony is very significant. I hope that it will be a wonderful occasion. To help celebrate it, we would love to have you bring your family over for a luncheon or something to make it a very special day for your boy and your family.”

She said, “Well, our other three children aren’t coming. They’re going to stay in school; they didn’t want to come.”

Knowing how hard this boy was to live with and thinking how her natural kids might feel about this adoption, I said, “Well, you go and tell your kids that the judge said the adoption won’t be official unless they’re there.”

I don’t know why I took charge. I suppose that I had changed my spirit to one of love, treating her with dignity and respect and justice. And then I said, “If you want, we could have a limousine pick them up, and you can fly over to Seattle in our airplane. I know a Philippine priest who would be happy to make this the most special day ever for this kid. He’ll never forget it, and he’ll know he belongs to your family.”

Now, she broke down and started to cry. She said through her tears, “When I came here today, I was very bitter toward you. But I know you’re right about this adoption ceremony. You know, as a teenager, I was very bitter toward my own father. I rebelled and became a hippie. And I didn’t care about ceremonies. I didn’t care about Christmas. I didn’t care about birthdays. But I know what you mean now.”

She said, “When we got him, I went out in the yard and planted a tree in his honor. It was a simple ceremony, but so important.”

I said, “Yes, and you have to make this adoption so important that he knows he’s part of your family, and, more importantly, so that your other children know that he’s part of the family.”

Well, we did have a wonderful day with all the important things involved. But if I had stayed on the phone with my selfish intent that event would have never occurred, at least not in that way.

When you work in harmony with justice and love, the spirit of good intent can work through you. But it’s hard to work through you when your intent is selfish, bitter, resentful. If you align your spirit with the way things are supposed to be, then you aren’t the one who does those things you simply become an instrument.

In retrospect, I can see that the special adoption day was meant to be for this Philippine boy, and that I was supposed to have made it happen. But I almost missed the chance.

And so, in our dealings with people, at work and at home, we need to continually check our spirit of intent.

One time I asked one of my sons-in-law, “Who do you look to for a model or mentor?”

He named a person I knew, and I said, “Why him?”

“Oh,” he said, “the guy is wonderful. He’s so entertaining.”

I said, “But this person is a showman. His life is shallow. He’s working just to make a living, and he’s entertaining because he wants people to applaud him.”

I further said, “You don’t need to sacrifice that joy in living, but you need to examine your motive. What if your purpose for working was to give so much of what you have to cause the life of other people to improve greatly? Suppose that was 75 percent of your intent, and 15 percent was to make a good living, and 10 percent was to feel good yourself.

I can guarantee you this: If you focus with 75 percent of your intent on doing good for others, you will make more money and you will feel better about yourself. If you focus on making money and feeling good first, you won’t do much good for other people.

Why are you doing what you do? What is your real intent in dealing with the people in your life? If your intent is selfish, self-serving, dishonest, or shallow, it’s up to you to change your intent using your own self-talk, and then go into the relationship or whatever you’re doing with a new sense of purpose.

I guarantee that you will get back an absolutely surprising result: 2 + 2 no longer becomes 4; it becomes 16. With synergy, you can make a quantum leap forward, way beyond just the normal human relationship.

If you can get your spirit of intent to be one of generosity or giving or caring for another, you won’t need to continually push away the rewards that come to you. If you’re a giving human being, at the end of your life, you can say, “What a quality life!” In fact you’ll hear people say, “There’s a quality person. This is a quality company.”

What does quality mean? What is the source? I submit that it’s this self-less spirit of intent. In athletics, for example, one selfish, immature player can diminish the other talent on the team and destroy the team spirit.

So if you care about quality of product, quality of service, and quality of life, then take a good look at your spirit of intent and try to focus on being and doing for the right reasons.

It sounds so easy, but it can be so difficult. Once I was at Seattle University looking some things up at the library. I was preparing for a seminar I was scheduled to give in two hours across Puget Sound. To get there on time, I had to catch a ferry that was scheduled to leave in 20 minutes across town. If I missed it, I would need to drive four hours to get there.

So, I hopped into my sports car and sped away, only to find the traffic backed up. Now I was in a panic as I only had a few minutes to catch the ferry. I pulled over to look ahead and see what was blocking traffic.

I saw that an old Chinese gentleman was trying to cross the busy street. He’d start out, get frightened, turn back, chicken out, come back, start again, turn around, chicken out, come back. Goodness gracious.

So I pulled the hand brake on my car, got out, and approached this guy. I said, “Let me help you across the street.” And I took him by the hand and walked with him across the street. He then said to me, “Thank you so much for helping me. I’ll remember your kindness forever.”

He made me feel like such a bum because I wasn’t helping him across the street to be kind. I just wanted to catch the ferry. But he, and perhaps others who observed my action, not knowing my intent, came to the wrong conclusion: “Isn’t he a wonderful person for helping the old man across the street?”

By the way, I did just catch the ferry. But I would have felt better about myself if, in getting from here to there, I had done the good deed for the right reason.