5 Vital Ingredients For A Meaningful Intent
November 22, 2022
In this article, the first in a five-part series, we explore ‘intent’ in the context of The Power Of How® and share our perspective for two important reasons: because a well-formed intent can radically empower your “how” and it’s where we always begin.
What does 'intent' mean?
At Broadleaf, we often compare an intent to a ‘north star’. But what does this mean? A single point of guiding light above the horizon, helping you navigate the unknown? Perhaps an energy that burns brighter than others, surrounded by infinite, unexplored possibility? Or simply… something to follow to get you from ‘here’ to ‘there’?
The truth is that all these suggestions are true, depending on your context. The thing which connects every intent is that in forming one you acknowledge – and crucially decide – that you want something to be different.
Whether big or small, "how” you choose to formulate your intent will set the tone for your journey. For example: if your production line is jeopardised by a reoccurring mechanical fault… the intention to "fix it quickly" should expect different results to "let’s make this a lot better than it ever was.” In this way, your intent is a foundation upon which you build. The stronger, deeper, and richer your foundation, the more success, resilience and results you can expect to experience along the way.
What are the five vital ingredients for a meaningful intent?
Much like a classic recipe for a wholesome meal, it’s not just about the ingredients; but “how” you approach them. Master chefs will tell you that the true flavour of a meal lies in how you prepare and refine each component before harmonising. So, what are the vital ingredients of a deliciously prepared intent?
Tip #1: Clarity
Keep it clear, make it attainable, ensure it is comprehendible.
A well-formed intent should be articulated with sharp focus, avoiding the abstract. You needn’t understand exactly how to achieve it, but it should be understood as possible. By affirming this, your intent will remain clear through every step forwards – and can be easily understood by those you share the journey with.
Tip #2: Purpose & Meaning
Make it meaningful to you, connect with a core value.
A deep connection is vital. If your intent is ‘surface’, you’re less likely to commit – it’s better to root your intent within something you already find yourself very connected to. Ask yourself what’s behind your intent? Is there something deeper here? You might find an ‘intent within an intent’, or that your starting point leads you to an intent you hadn’t even imagined – the further you reach, the more meaning you’re likely to connect to.
Tip #3: Belief & Willingness
Make it a decision, commit yourself to the intent and work at it.
An intent should be action oriented. Unlike a wish, an intent is a decision that you make and commit your energy towards, for something being different. In forming an intent, you need to really want change, you should believe in it, and be prepared to employ a balance of both patience and excitement.
Tip #4: Positivity
Avoid deficit, look for opportunities and focus on growth.
A well-formed intent celebrates progressive change. Like the north star, it should gleam light in front of you, feeding positive vibes. If you find yourself focussing on a problem, try to flip the coin. What’s on the other side of this challenge? How can we create an opportunity and nourish a growth mindset for ourselves?
Tip #5: Embracing the unknown
Work on staying open, explore uncertainty and celebrate flexibility.
An intent is more of a question than an answer. Be prepared to embrace whatever happens next, whether it’s good or bad, positive or negative, right or wrong. Life is constantly changing, and we aren’t blessed with a crystal ball. Although we cannot control what happens to us, we can control how we respond. Choosing to remain flexible unleashes a potent confidence, driving us to navigate uncertainty and into learning and growth.
How to hold a relationship with your intent
Okay, so you’ve confidently formed your intent and you feel passionate enough to carve it into stone before sharing it with the world. That’s great, your intent is already generating momentum! But we highly recommend keeping your hammer and chisel nearby. And possibly a feather duster. Maybe even another slab of stone…
Why? Because the purpose of forming an intent does not end with it being born. You should expect a symbiotic, attentive, and two-way relationship with your intent. A relationship in which you move forward in parallel, learning and growing in a place of deep connection. The more you put in, the more you get out. Let’s explore the roles played out in this relationship.
The role of your intent
The role of your intent is to serve you, connecting you to a deep purpose, and by serving you, it keeps you accountable. An intent should challenge you, possibly making you feel uncomfortable, encouraging you to refine your thinking and re-trace your steps when you’re going in the wrong direction. At the same time, its role is to reassure you, celebrating moments of ‘eureka’ when you stride towards success.
Check in with your intent as often as possible. Use it as a benchmark. For example, you could simply ask yourself at any point, “does the impact of this decision / conversation / exercise align with my intent?” With foundational clarity on your side, the answer should be very quickly obvious, creating an opportunity to proceed with agility. An ideal intent will naturally curate an unquestionable affinity within you. If you aren’t feeling this loyalty; that’s ok. See this as a chance to be curious and refine your intent.
One of the beauties of forming an intent is that you can do so at any time. Of course, it makes sense to always start with your intent, but once it has been formed, it’s good to remember that relationships seldom succeed where neither party feel free to grow. Use a well-formed intent to challenge your thinking as often as possible – and challenge your intent with curiosity wherever you feel it’s time to refine it and grow. Like anything worth having or doing, this requires work, time and patience.
How to connect others to an intent
A well-rounded intent has the power to combine a group of individuals into a cohesive, empowered team. The key to connecting individuals to a collective intent that they haven’t chosen themselves is to:
1. Give people the opportunity to have input into the intent if at all possible.
At the very least it will be vital to provide time for people to engage with the intent and fully understand it.
2. Enable people to connect the wider intent to their personal sense of purpose or their values.
This is a vital step in creating a personal relationship with the intent. Without people feeling truly and personally connected with an intent, the chance of something being different is dramatically reduced.
The crucial ingredient in developing an authentically shared intent among team members is to foster a shared mindset. Developing a common identity and common understanding will unleash an openness to growth, and a positive approach to problem solving. And because this mindset is a personal decision that can be made by anyone, at any time; it is everyone’s responsibility to connect themselves, wherever they may be.
Working on an intent
The next article in this five-part series explores the next step – discover – in our journey of transformation using The Power Of How® where we examine the impact of understanding the landscape you find yourself in. After all, how can you begin to move in the right direction without first familiarising yourself with your surroundings.