The Power of Intention: A Journey
An Article By Jeanie Marshall
Understanding the power of intention can be transformational as you follow your unique path for personal development. Intention is the energy that powers all actions. I like to think of it as the thought behind the thought, or the thought that underpins the words, or the thought that propels actions. It's the starting place in your mind. You may be aware of your intention or not. The more you are aware of your intention, the more you will empower your personal development and growth.
The Beginning of My Journey of Focusing on Intention
My awareness of the power of intention came early in my career. I mark my beginning awareness by the following event:
I was leading the last three days of a five-day training program for US Federal government mid-level managers who were newly assigned to overseas posts. In the group of 30, there were a few seasoned managers, but most had been managers for three years or less. Few, if any, would have considered themselves on a journey of personal development.
I had designed the training, which included the development of some case studies for them to explore in small groups and then present their personal insights and learnings to the total group. As they identified and discussed performance issues, I noticed attitudes that seemed different from the empowering approaches to professional and personal development that I was advocating. As they presented situations or solutions, I instinctively asked "What is/was your intention?"
The first time I asked that question to a man who was talking about a specific situation he was remembering from his past that was similar to the case study. With curiosity in my voice and demeanor, I asked "What was your intention?" He answered, rather vehemently, "to get rid of this person as soon as possible." I listened and -- and this is very important -- I expressed no reprimand, judgment, or correction. I let his answer stand for itself, heard and accepted.
We moved on. Whenever inspired, I asked "What is your intention" or "What was your intention?" and sometimes even "What do you think was their intention?" Each question was helping me to understand the power of intention.
An amazing dynamic occurred! The answers kept reflecting greater and greater empowering ideas by the speaker. It was as if once voiced, the less empowering intentions lost their power and participants were able to articulate more empowering intentions. As the trainer, I offered no resistance or correction, only acceptance of their expressions, so they did not have to resist my resistance or defend themselves.
If I had been writing a screenplay to show the power of intention just by asking questions, I could not have orchestrated it better. The whole group changed. In three days, this somewhat disgruntled group of individuals became a mostly upbeat, empowered group, eager for their new assignments.
Instead of trying to get these training participants to learn something on my agenda or to accept my point of view, I joined with them to learn what they most needed to learn. Of course, there were many other principles and techniques that I was hired to impart to them, but understanding intention was the most important learning for them, in my opinion, and it was unplanned.
As much as they learned, I learned more. I learned about the power of intention and how to introduce it to others. Over time, I've come to describe my role as "holding a space" for others to expand or grow and to find the power of intention, goals, dreams, and fulfillment.
This single incident has been the foundation for exploring my own intention and helping clients to identify their own intention. Intention is an integral part of my work.
My Journey of Intention Continues
I regularly ask my clients to identify their intention for an upcoming meeting or project or situation. When I first ask a client to identify an intention, I often hear the expression of a goal or plan or desired outcome rather than an intention.
As with my earlier experience, I allow the intention to emerge for my clients in its proper time. Purpose, plans, goals, desired outcomes, objectives, etc. are all important, but they follow intention rather than being synonymous with intention. I let clients start where it's comfortable and familiar. Sometimes it's important to focus on helping them to set goals that inspire them and then move naturally to intention. Other times, I help them to create a link or bridge to intention.
To help to make the process of further enhancing the power of intention, I encourage my clients to write their statements of intention. This keeps them more focused, clear, and accountable to themselves.
To help to heighten the difference between an intention and a goal or outcome, I often introduce the idea of "overarching intention." The idea of something that's "overarching" seems to emphasize its power and impact a little more.
I think of an overarching intention as an umbrella that expands over all other intentions and thoughts and goals and desires. In its broadest concept, an overarching intention is a way of being or a way of wanting to be. It expands the power of intention and helps you to be more conscious of your specific intention.
With the awareness of how/who you want to be, actions more easily align with your stated intention. This also means that you will more easily notice when you are not in alignment with an empowering intention that you've set for yourself.
An intention or an overarching intention becomes the checkpoint you can return to again and again to determine if your actions and results are aligned with what you intend, who you want to be, or what you want to do.
Here are a Few Examples of Overarching Intention
For the subject of Love:
- "To live in the consciousness of Unconditional Love"
- "My intention is to love myself."
For tomorrow's meeting:
- "To be in a state of open and honest communication."
- "To listen to all points of view."
For studying a new technology:
- "I want to be relaxed and interested."
- "A willing learner."
As you can see, these intentions are short and easy to remember. The brevity enhances the power of each intention. Each writer has approached each statement or phrase in a slightly different way. The words flow naturally. The ideas guide the person who has set the positive intention.
A Compelling Intention for the Journey
I find that movement along a path is greatly enhanced by creating a compelling intention. That is, a powerful intention that is compelling for you. What is compelling for you might be uninspiring for someone else, and vice versa.
A compelling intention can draw and inspire you, making the trip more pleasurable, even with bumps and unexpected occurrences. Only you know if your intention is compelling. If it draws and inspires you, it's compelling. If you feel no desire to move along your path, your intention is not compelling enough. You lose the real power of intention setting if you forget or if you no longer feel inspired.
When your heart and head resonate with your intention, the Universe handles the methods, routes, and other details, opening the roads and pathways for you. An intention that aligns with your heart’s desires is a powerful force for a satisfying journey. Whether you feel confident or hesitant, it’s important to take time to align with your inner guidance before stepping forward. Without this alignment, you certainly may feel forceful, but in the wrong direction or in an inappropriate way. This is not true empowerment, but mere movement or wasted energy.
And Now to Your Journey with Intention
What is your compelling and powerful intention for your life? or for certain parts of your life? How can you leverage the power of intention? It takes just a few moments on a daily basis to benefit from the power of intention statements you create.
If you want to write your statement of intention, you'll find information on writing your statement of intention in our Self Development Techniques Section.
Copyright © 2008 Marshall House. All rights reserved. Jeanie Marshall, Personal Development Consultant and Coach, has developed Empowering Personal Development at www.empowering-personal-development.com to encourage you on your path. This article is not available for republication without express written permission.
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