How many people know the story of Samuel Clemens' brother Orion Clemens? This guy was a first rate Intender, as well as a total failure in life. What do I mean by Intender? He attempted almost everything from invention, politics, construction, writing books, to business. You name it, the guy tried to do it, and eventually failed. That's what I call an Intender. An Intender is also what I call myself. Much like Orion Clemens, I've tried almost everything under the sun. I've achieved some success in each space, realizing I could make it work, but I've also been impatient in each space, eventually leaving that space for the next shiny passion catching my eye.
Intenders are good at a lot of different things. They are actually renaissance people, with one key flaw: lack of follow-through. This is why Intenders are well served aligning themselves with people who can follow through. Intenders are usually idea folks, coming up with too many ideas to actually implement, and once attempting to implement one idea, not being satisfied by it enough to stick with it before succumbing to the newest (usually more interesting) idea.
Let me give you some examples from my life:
Wanted to go into international relations to prevent war (Became a Fulbright Fellow and Presidential Management Fellow working for the State Department before crashing and burning out to leave the government and flail in a career where I now simply work for money, preventing no wars, and saving no people's lives or livelihoods.).
Wanted to become a self-sustaining author (Wrote several books, published three with few sales, and am questioning how best to proceed now that I've invested so much time and money).
Wanted to be an inventor (Came up with around 20 ideas I view as viable, patented 1, have provisional patents on 3 others, attempted to build a business out of this, found a bad partner on cofounders.com, and walked away. This is either on hold or abandoned, just like my 1 patent since I decided it was not worth paying the maintenance fees on it since the product would kill its users).
Wanted to become an improvisational actor (Moved to Chicago, took classes at The Second City, IO, Annoyance Theater, Playground Theater, and some theaters in New York too. Did this for about three years before returning to DC and going back to work for the government, never really doing improv again).
Wanted to do home repair, eventually flipping houses (Chose to do this in the Washington area [where I work] which turned into a pretty lucrative side-hustle for few years around 2005-7, but walked away from it to move to Chicago. Upon returning to DC, bought a house and did so much work on it I burned out on home repair, never wanting to do it again!)
Wanted to be a Dad (Still figuring out how to do this right with varying levels of success and failure measured on a daily basis and constantly questioning when I'll lose my son.)
Wanted to be a Husband (Still firuging out how to do this right with varying levels of success and failure measured on a daily basis and constantly questioning when I'll lose my wife?)
Wanted to be a history teacher (Still not doing it, although some of my writing is aimed toward this goal in a different way.)
I'm a firm believer in the idea nothing I've learned is wasted. Yet, I'm also a realist who understands I don't follow-through well. Jan is awesome at follow-through. I made the greatest decision of my life (for many reasons far beyond the topic of this piece) teaming up with her for life. Yet, I still see myself as an Intender on par with Orion Clemens (although I've never run for Governor of a State, no will I ever).
I don't write this to get any sympathy, or garner any ego boosting replies, but rather share something which lingers in my mind as I contemplate my next steps in life. Where have I been? What have I done? And, what can I learn from it?
I've been around the world, done some amazing things, and have come close to success in almost each area I work. Yet, in each one, I can't seem to close the deal. What stops me from achieving ultimate success? I'll tell you, my impatience. I see I'm not making the headway I want at the speed I envision, and I burn out. I usually do this moments before the breakthrough. So, what can I take away from this?
I need more GRIT! I need to figure out how to persevere beyond the point of anticipating failure. I need to have confidence in myself, my abilities, and the value of what I provide to the worldin order to see my initiatives through to fulfillment. Unless and until I can do that, I'll always be an Intender. Once I can see something through until the end, I'll have broken this mold.
I sincerely and earnestly welcome ideas, suggestions, insights on how to gain Grit, how to see things through until the end, and how to persevere when I think I'm starting to fail. What do you do to achieve success? I'd love to know.