Impact Leading Self Learning Self awareness

The merciless difference between intention and impact? Your social context.

Most of us have all the best intentions. But there’s a big difference between having the best intentions and the impact we have on our social environment. We need to be aware of our context.

Last week, the Netherlands’ royal family decided to spend the autumn vacation in their summer house in Greece. They departed on Friday with the governmental plane.

Only the prime minister was aware of their plans as he bears the governmental responsibility for the royal family.

While they were in the air on their way to Greece, hell broke loose at home. Somebody had spotted the plane, connected the dots, and tweeted the possibility that the royal family had left for vacation abroad.

At the same time, as the covid-19 pandemic was worsening significantly, everybody else was being asked to stay at home, not to travel (and for sure not abroad), and limit social contact.

Social media exploded, opposition leaders contacted their favorite journalists, and a riot was born.

It got so intense that the royal family decided upon arrival in Greece to cut their vacation short and return home the next day, Saturday.

The rest of the weekend, the Dutch media spent discussing how this could happen. And the jokes on social media spread like wildfire.

Bad judgment

Obviously, this is a case of incredibly bad judgment.


By the king and his family, and the prime minister.

On Tuesday, three days before their departure, the government had imposed new restrictions, basically making sure people would stay home and limit social contacts. As a result, people are upset, concerned, anxious, and in some cases, frustrated and angry.

In the past few months, the king and his wife have spent a lot of time visiting all kinds of places in the Netherlands to connect with citizens, to gain understanding, and show compassion.

Of all people, he should know best.

Be a role model

Don’t get me wrong.

Everybody deserves a vacation, but as you ask the rest of the population not to travel, you should role model the right behavior.

We see this so often. We do things with the best intentions but grossly underestimate the impact our behavior may have on other people.

Blind spots

It’s a blind spot with many people and is caused by a predominant inward focus versus the ability to look outward and assess one’s environment.

It’s the inability to put ourselves in others’ shoes and evaluate the situation from that perspective.

It’s our ego taking over, wanting to do the best for those close to us, forgetting about the responsibility we have for the greater good.

A simple solution

But there is a very simple solution.

This solution does not cost you anything.
It will only make you look better and smarter with those you’re serving.
It will prevent you from making mistakes, like our king made, for the rest of your life.

You ask

When you’re unsure whether your intentions are solid and serve the best interest of most in your context, you ask.

The solution is you ask and not assume.

Five questions

Here are five sample questions you can ask yourself and people around you to check your intentions with your context:

Is this the right decision?
‘How do I know?
What impact will my decision have?
What would be ‘the other’ perspective?
Am I showing the proper behavior by making this decision?

Once you have your answers, you know what to do.

Simple. But big.

Five vital ingredients for exceptional growth

So big that your willingness to ground yourself in reality is one of my five vital ingredients for exceptional growth.

Over the next weeks, I’m introducing these five vital ingredients on my website. You need these ingredients if you want to grow yourself and others.

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