Intent means "purpose." No one understands this better than Mallika Chopra. Taught how to meditate at the age of nine by her world-renowned father Deepak Chopra, an authority in the practice of mind-body medicine and spiritual healing, Mallika is well-versed on how to harness the power of intention. The 40-year-old mother of two daughters, author, and former MTV executive is now looking to help others do the same. As the founder and CEO of Intent.com, Mallika offers people a place to set an intention and have a community-at-large offer support and help spur accomplishment. Days before her upcoming appearance at Inc.'s Women's Conference, Mallika talked about her life and new venture with Inc.’s Tennille Robinson.
What was it like to grow up as the daughter of Deepak Chopra?
You never think of your dad as anything different than your dad. My brother and I had very normal childhoods. We grew up in a suburb of Boston. My parents were young immigrants and my dad was just a stressed out doctor. He didn’t write his first book until I was in my teens. It was fun; we got to meet a lot of famous people. I think what was most special is that I witnessed and realized people would come to my dad during their own personal journey of healing, so people came to my father in mental, physical or even spiritual pain and they were looking for meaning and purpose and of course, healing. What we got to see was my dad, through his work, really helping people. It was that process of helping people that always stayed with me. And then the tools he would give people whether it was meditation or intention or forgiveness—things like that really helped people and that was inspiring.
Do you feel like you saw him transform into the man he is today?
Absolutely, because when I was a young kid, my dad was not happy. He was a workaholic. When he started to meditate, my mom immediately loved it and got involved as well, then we learned, then my uncle learned, then our entire community, so everyone around him. Over those 10 or 15 years was when he started getting into self-discovery and self-healing and then started talking about it and writing about it. My dad’s been doing now for over 30 years. The good news is that my parents never forced us to do that. I am very much a proponent of not forcing kids to meditate. You can't force someone to do it—that takes the whole point away. But my brother and I saw that once my parents started doing these things my dad was much happier, he was home more, we were together more often; we just became a happier family. We really saw the contrast of the evolution.
When did you learn about the power of intention?
I grew up with intention being a foundation of my life. My dad would lead my brother and me through a little meditation prayer: “I am responsible for what I see. I choose the feelings I experience and set the goals I will achieve. And everything that seems to happen to me I have asked for and receive because I have asked.” Then he’d ask, “What’d you ask for?” We’d say, “Tickets to the (Boston) Celtics basketball game or a trip to Hawaii.” He’d listen, but then he’d say, “Ok, but how about asking for love, connection, purpose, conviction.” So, we grew up stating these intents for how we wanted to live our lives. And so even when I became a mom, it was in my nature to question, “Ok how do I want to serve as a mom? What are my intentions?”
How did this practice of living with intent shape your career?
Starting the website was an evolution of my background. And I always liked the exercise of figuring out how to crystallize your deepest desires into a one sentence intention—but it’s so much more than just writing a sentence. You really have to think about, “What do I want? And in thinking about that you articulate it, putting it out into this “virtual” universe, and then what’s interesting is that you get feedback and support from people. You kind of create this conversation and energy around achieving it. It lets you place structure around it.
Why is intent a powerful tool in someone’s personal and professional life?
Personally, I have found is that when I state an intent, it actually provides an anchor for me. Being purposeful, we will often make choices and look for opportunities to achieve—it provides that anchor in our thinking and decision making.
What do most people ask for?
Of course they will say they want money or a job, but if you dig a little deeper you’ll find that people want love, they want to feel connected. They want a feeling of purpose, meaningfulness, and relevancy. These are things we see a lot of coming out of people’s intentions on our site. People are expressing those deepest aspirations of why they want to be.
How is making an intent separate from setting a goal?
There’s a distinction between the two. A goal is the actual execution or act of doing something, while an intention is the spiritual and aspiration component of wanting to achieve something. For example, my intent may be to live healthier but the goal to achieve that may be to run a half-marathon. Intent is really that step before you even make the goal.
Do most people find living with intent as a challenge?
What’s nice about the virtual aspect of what we’re doing on the site is that you’re able to put it out there. I know I’m not going to always be peaceful in the midst of this chaos, but that is what I aspire to be. And once I state that, then at least I have that as an end goal. I have broken promises and intents before but then I go back and see what my initial intent was, and while I may waiver from the path, I know where I want to go and I’m able to come back to it.
What do most people struggle with?
Sometimes it’s really hard for people to state an intent because you have to commit and sometimes people just aren’t ready to do that or they really don’t know what they want. But when you offer people the chance to support someone else in their intent that’s easier and often it’s inspiring. It gets you motivated, you feel relevant and there’s some purpose around it. So that’s what’s so cool about social media today is that there’re these tools that make you feel more connected and even more happier by sharing.
For anyone that has intentions to achieve something, what would you suggest?
I am a big believer in the ritual of actually setting it and articulating it. A lot of us have so many things in our head and hearts that we always want to do, but the process of actually articulating it is important. Whether you go on Intent.com to place it there or you write it on something at home, the actually process of writing it out and letting go of it is very powerful. Of course there is a fine line, but we have to, in some ways, let go. Like with a seed, you have to plant it, but you don’t go and take the seed out every day and check it. It’s going to grow, because we nurture it and we give it time and we give it space. In achieving intents, we can’t be obsessive and too attached. And part of the practice in all of this is the act of letting go.
Want to learn more ways to harness the power of intent to help move forward in your business? Join Mallika Chopra and other seasoned female entrepreneurs on December 1 in New York City for our Inc. Women’s Summit. Visit www.incwomenssummit.com for more details.