Intent vs Impact… We are responsible for both

Last semester I was asked to speak during advisory to one of our middle schools about social media use. Advisory is less than thirty minutes. I was going to do the presentation six different times so each grade would be split into two groups. I was excited and terrified at the same.

I will admit it, talking to students completely and utterly terrifies me. Give me a room of superintendents and school board members and I have no issue but put me in front of middle and high school students and I start to tremble. I think it is repressed feelings of never being cool or fully accepted during my middle school and high school years… and it really doesn’t matter because I said I would do it and I needed to plan.

I had a great presentation on social media for staff and parents but knew I needed to approach it from a different perspective if I was going to be effective with adolescents. For some reason, the idea of intent versus impact came into my head.  We discussed how regardless of our intent, we are responsible for our impact. I proposed three different scenarios and the kids talked through them. They seemed to be engaged and it registered with them.

I have continued to use the language of intent versus impact in a variety of ways since the presentations. The current state in our country, world, specifically makes me think about our intent versus our impact. I am sure not one person who went somewhere before knowing they were a carrier intended to get others sick, yet that is their impact and are responsible for that impact. My intent could be I am young (ok not too young) and I can still do what I want and hang out with others because I am not at high risk. My impact is I am now contributing to the strain on our healthcare system because more people are exposed. In the end, no one cares about my intent. My impact is what is remembered.

As we go into a time of so much uncertainty and unknowns, think about not only your intent but also your impact. As I talked with our students as much as our impact can be negative, it can also be positive. During this time think about how your intent can have a positive impact on others.

I just saw the following tweet. If retired nurses and nurse practitioners can put their life on the line to have a positive impact, we can stay home. Never forget if our impact is negative, no one will care about our intent… we are responsible for both.


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