Francis "Two Gun" Crowley had killed before and there was no doubt he would again. (Hell, look at that nickname.) He was known as a career criminal and a cop killer. And when he found himself surrounded by a hundred and fifty policemen firing machine-guns into his sweetheart's West End apartment, he managed to scribble this down:
Dale Carnegie tells this amazing story at the beginning of his book How to Win Friends and Influence People.
Although to err is to be human, we're really good at justifying our actions, good or evil. When Crowley was captured and sentenced to the electric chair, he lamented, "This is what I get for defending myself." There is a phrase for thoughts like this and it's only made better by Aldous Huxley when he said, "Hell isn't merely paved with good intentions; it's walled and roofed with them. Yes, and furnished too."
Our brains are fantastic computers. Punch in a question and your grey matter will give you an answer. It doesn't have to make sense to everyone. Of course, there are over six billion people on this planet and we're bound to step on each other's toes quite a bit. (Understatement much?) But social media mogul Gary Vaynerchuk brought up an interesting point on Chase Jarvis LIVE when he said, "The reason I'm not fearful about anything is that I know that intent matters."
Vaynerchuk was speaking to business matters. When it comes to business, the intention is clear - the bottom line. Most companies scramble to make us happy only to have us purchase more. But if a company does good for its customers for the sake of providing value before asking for a dime, the intention is clear too. Puff Daddy was wrong, it's not all about the Benjamins.
Forget business. Intent matters everywhere and it requires the brutal honesty of awareness. You have to sit down with yourself and ask the right questions to really break through what's going on. If Crowley would have stepped back early enough to ask the right questions, he would have possibly noticed that a life of crime was not the only way he could enjoy his time here.
It'll always be more complex, all you can do is continue to ask yourself what's up. What is it that you really want to do? Is it all about you? What's important in your life? Why is that?
Lately, questioning myself brought up some weird intentions. I was hoping for a free ride. The fantasy was to find instant fame and fortune writing at my own comfortable pace. And it was a selfish mirage. I wasn't giving my audience enough - credit or otherwise. Anyone can write a blog post. Literally, anyone. What's makes me different if that's my fantasy?
We know that if we put in value, you get value right back. And I think sometimes life beats that lesson out of us. We feel neglected or unappreciated, and we start to think it's not worth it. And when we start to think that, it's true.
It's always possible to fall back. We can be selfish or greedy or mean. But we can also take a breath. Recognize our intentions. Plan out the course. Because under each of our coats is a weary heart, but a kind one.