The power of intention brings energy to our words and actions and assures they can accomplish our purpose. Our conscious intention works for us like a good business plan: if our words and actions don't serve the goals set out in the plan, we know we don't need to waste energy on them. If they do serve those goals, though, our full awareness of that makes them more effective.

Why is it important to find your purpose? Our awareness is our intention, consciously knowing our purpose. Before we can cultivate steady awareness of purpose, though, we need to know what it is. What is our goal in any transaction, whether in life, in business or in a particular conversation? When we know our purpose or goal, performing actions with intention, with awareness of purpose, gives those actions the power of intention.

A Jewish idea suggests this kind of symbiotic relationship between intention and action. Two words describe the way to perform commandments: keva, from a root that means "appointed, set, fixed," and kavannah, "intention, direction of the heart."

Keva refers to the commandment or required action, but the best way to act is with full intention or awareness. Action and intention are both valued. While action without proper intention isn't useless, according to this idea, it doesn't have the same power as an intentional action, an action performed with full awareness.

These two words and the concept they embody are useful as a general guide to effective action in the world. Distractions fill our contemporary lives, and it's very easy to slip into habitual activities. Of course, there are times when it's important to just do things, whether or not they accomplish our personal goals. It's even important to do some things habitually, without using lots of energy.

Sometimes, though, we say and do things habitually that are counter-productive. Perhaps these things were once conscious choices, serving a purpose, but became habitual over time. Perhaps we never really thought about things we do, we just did them.

When we carry out activities thoughtlessly, without aligning them with our conscious intention, these words and actions may no longer match our purpose. As a result, they may undermine what we hope to accomplish.

When the words we speak, though, and the actions we perform, align with our "direction of the heart," we feel the energy of our conscious intention. We can also move others by our unity of purpose and action.

Part of good leadership is the ability to provide a vision to others along with a road-map to fulfill the vision. The vision is the leader's conscious "direction of the heart," and to the extent the words and actions in the road-map represent that direction, they have the power to engage others.

Actions performed with the power of intention benefit from our full energy when we haven't wasted it on thoughtless or counter-productive words and activity. Words and actions that flow from our conscious intention have the power to engage others in our vision.

Try this experiment: consider something you do every day. This is the kind of action most likely to become habitual. Let's use the example of eating lunch. Think about that activity and why you do it? What do you hope to accomplish by performing that activity? Do you eat lunch to enjoy social time with co-workers? To contribute to your good health? Because you love the food and want to experience the pleasure of eating for a period of time in the middle of the day? Because you're bored and want to get out of the office for a while for some excitement?

Now take a look at exactly how and where you eat lunch and what you eat at lunch. Does it accomplish your intention completely? At all? In part? If it doesn't accomplish your intention, rework how and when you have lunch and what you eat to make certain it aligns with your "direction of the heart." Keep that purpose in your conscious awareness when you go to lunch. Try eating lunch in this different way for a few days and see how it feels to eat with the power of intention.

Know your purpose. When you know your purpose and maintain conscious awareness of it as you act in the world, the power of intention gives life to your words and actions so they can accomplish it.

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Published on: Nov 19, 2015
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