Autopilot is for planes, not people

December 2023

If you're like most people, you know the feeling of arriving home and not remembering driving there, or walking your usual route to the bus or subway without paying much attention along the way.

If you've worked on a team, you've likely heard "We've always done it this way" or "There's no budget (or time) to even consider another project." 

In both situations, we may reach our destinations - literally or figuratively - but we aren't fully aware of what's going on around us.

At Stories Change Power, we recognize ideas are infinite, but time and budgets are not, particularly at mission-driven organizations. We know it's hard to carve out time to review organization-wide dynamics and make adjustments, all while meeting day-to-day demands. 

Candidly, I still struggle with the urge to take on every good idea that pops up; letting go because we don't have the budget or bandwidth is hard. That's why our definition of intentionality accounts for the human consequences of organizational decisions, both for team members and the people their advocacy impacts. When there are more ideas and possibilities than there are hours in the day or funds to pursue them, we account for the ripple effect of decisions in determining which ideas to pursue and which to let go.

Our version of intentionality also means not going on "autopilot" in our day-to-day work. We aim to be clear about our priorities in a way that maximizes positive impact without causing (or ignoring) harm.

In practice, intentionality can be as simple as taking 5 minutes each morning to distinguish the "must be done" from the "nice to get done." For the longer term, it means boiling down our work into an OPSP (one-page strategic plan) that filters our priorities and keeps us nimble.

What about you? Do you find yourself on autopilot sometimes - or have helpful ways to stay present and focused? I'd love to hear from you via the comment form below. 

- Piper Hendricks, Executive Director

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