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What You Should Know About IDEAL

Updated: Dec 15, 2023

What is IDEAL?

IDEAL is an acronym for five human characteristics that create a cyclical process useful in several applications. IDEAL has been described as "the most natural process for success," which references a common use of IDEAL: to plan and mange the pursuit of either a personal or professional goal.

Since IDEAL is comprised of human characteristics, you already express some quality and degree of IDEAL in your endeavors. However, if you are unaware of IDEAL as a process, then you cannot expect benefits from the incidental ways in which you express its aspects. As with any process, the usefulness of and benefits from IDEAL requires you to apply IDEAL deliberately, to a specific purpose.

You and IDEAL

Think about how you already apply IDEAL. (1) You are not mindless; you intend. Every day, you act with intention directed toward some purpose. (2) You are not aimless; you direct your life along some course you’ve chosen, in pursuit of what you intend. (3) You engage situations with action toward your intentions, along courses that you've chosen. (4) You assess, in order to know where you stand and ensure your progress—the success of your course and effectiveness of your actions to accomplish your aims, however simple or ambitious they may be. (5) Along the way, you draw from experience in order to improve what you intend, the courses you’ve chosen, and to act more effectively or efficiently, which requires you to learn.

Many of the challenges that we face are simply due to our lack of awareness about IDEAL, or an imbalance in how we express the attributes of the process. That is, if you are unclear about your aim, course, or actions toward an endeavor, or you do not properly assess and learn from your efforts, you are more likely to face challenges, and will, possibly, fail in your endeavor, whatever it involves—achieving a goal, building a business, increasing sales, leading a team, improving your health, or another aspect of yourself.

The only course to any success—in our relationships, businesses, and self-development—is by way of IDEAL. Think about it. You cannot choose whether or not IDEAL works in your life; you can only choose to be aware of and how you apply its characteristics.


In short, you can (and, as discussed, already do) apply the aspects of IDEAL—to learn, achieve, build, create, solve, and manage. However, if you’re new to the concept of IDEAL as a process or model by which to plan and prepare for something that you intend, you’ve yet to learn how to benefit from a deliberate use of IDEAL.

Think about your interest to develop yourself, your relationships, pursue an ambition, manage a project and others, grow a business, and improve your health, income, or abilities. Each of these interests, and others that you may have, involve the aspects of IDEAL. The question about uses of IDEAL is to highlight different ways in which IDEAL may be applied as a process or model. That is, IDEAL, as you may expect, accommodates its use. Your application of IDEAL to achieve a goal would involve different considerations from an application of IDEAL to manage a team.

Consider these uses for IDEAL. It may be easy to recognize how IDEAL applies, yet, application for each use will involve different considerations, preparation, and concepts.

  • IDEAL for goals

  • IDEAL for productivity

  • IDEAL for management

  • IDEAL for self-improvement

  • IDEAL for sales / business development

You may have noticed the cyclical nature of IDEAL. As you learn (step five) how to apply IDEAL, you can improve any or all aspects of IDEAL. Therefore, the process has the potential to build on your developments, and successes, as you progress in your efforts to achieve your aim—as you learn.

Given the logical structure of IDEAL, the process aptly serves as a model for productivity, planning, management, and preparing for a personal or professional endeavor. Once you are clear on how you want to use IDEAL, you're ready to think-through the other aspects, which will provide you with a starting point for success toward your interest. However, be aware: while IDEAL is easy to understand, each area has its respective requirements and potential pitfalls, if you’re unprepared. Here are a few examples:

A common problem is lack of clarity about intent. Often, our aims are too general or we think of intent in terms of a result that is not actionable without greater specificity and means. Consider these examples:

  • “Improve my relationship”

  • “Lead a high-performance team”

  • “Increase sales”

  • “Develop myself”

  • “Get fit”

These are all in-actionable results. That is, in order for the aim—what is intended—to be actionable, there must be some knowledge about what produces the sought-after result. Consider these examples, which are more specific:

  • “Improve my relationship” = complete the Couples workshop and practice lessons

  • “Lead a high-performance team” = support and require training scores to exceed 80%

  • “Increase sales” = increase quote-to-sale ratio by 10% with higher qualification standard

  • “Develop myself” = read three books about world philosophies

  • “Get fit” = lose 20 pounds on diet X and increase cardiovascular endurance by 30%

Actionable intention is a combination of “What” (result) and “How” (means). With regard to “How,” another area about which to be aware is: clarity of course (the Direct step). Dr. William Edwards Deming said, “If you can't describe what you are doing as a process, you don't know what you are doing.” A process consists of steps—actions, or a series of actions—that yield a targeted results. If you are unclear about the details of your process, you are likely to encounter challenges.

A third area is: failure to confirm progress. Here, productivity is assumed. The only way to know that you’re on-track toward an aim is by some means or measurement of your efforts. Accurate, verifiable information of some kind is required. If corrections of your attempt at success are needed but cannot be identified, your ability to achieve may diminish, if not rendered impossible. Understand what constitutes meaningful progress and when/if that standard is met.

There is much to learn about IDEAL – its uses as a solution, and how to benefit from its deliberate application in our lives. As you learn how to suit IDEAL to your pursuits, you’ll sooner enjoy the benefits from this natural process to achievement and success.

How to apply IDEAL

Take a moment to consider yourself and something that you intend. What have you done about that aspiration or goal? To some extent, IDEAL has already been at work in your interest. You’ve likely considered means, effort, and/or progress toward your aim. So, the actual issue here is: how to improve your use of IDEAL.

Here are a few suggestions:

1. Cover the fundamentals about what it is that you intend. There are four “bases” to think-through: What, Why, Why not (which deals with motivation and opposition), and the How (means) as each are related to your aim.

2. Achievements require productivity. Account for how you will be productive with regard to the achievement of what you intend:

  • What are your expectations from your efforts?

  • By what course will you accomplish your intention?

  • How will you verify your progress—the effectiveness of your means?

  • What could be useful to improve and better safeguard your efforts?

3. Question the quality of your efforts, and their appropriateness for what you want to accomplish. Is a more effective means possible, available, and worth applying?

4. Reconsider how you measure the effectiveness of your efforts, and have ensured your ability to learn and improve.

5. Consider what changes in your IDEAL—what you intend, your course, your actions, how you assess and learn—may help you be more effective.

According to your use of IDEAL, each area will involve different considerations.

Why Apply IDEAL

As previously addressed, we cannot choose whether or not to apply IDEAL in our lives. IDEAL consists of human characteristics that we express regularly, if not daily, albeit incidentally. So, the issue here is: why you should apply IDEAL deliberately, as a process.

If the reasons to apply IDEAL have not yet become clear to you, here are a few points to bear in mind:

1. Again, IDEAL is already at work in your life. However, in order to benefit from this natural process for our development and the success of our endeavors, you must choose to apply IDEAL deliberately, as an ongoing process. Intend, Direct, Engage, Assess, Learn create a cycle that you naturally follow. Apply it consciously, for your purposes.

2. Many of our problems—personal and professional—are due to some imbalance or deficiency in how we express aspects of IDEAL. Perhaps you don’t assess accurately or learn well. Maybe your course or actions conflict with your intention. You will only benefit by learning how to apply IDEAL to your interests.

3. IDEAL is the course by which we learn and achieve throughout life. Learning how to express IDEAL effectively for what you intend will allow you to sooner enjoy the benefits of IDEAL, and from whatever it is that you pursue. IDEAL is life’s course to our potential.

I hope this article has clarified IDEAL, where you may apply IDEAL, and why you should apply IDEAL as a process for your personal and professional interests. If you would like more information, please consider a free consultation with me or taking one of my courses.

All the best to you for continued success… and an IDEAL life!


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