We have a great lawn care guy, Dean. He is fast, reasonably priced, and does a better job than we would ever do – a man of few words but efficient action. Unsurprising since this is his current line of work. Perhaps surprising, however, is his email address. It includes the word “Temujin” which is the name of the man we know as Genghis (or Chinggis) Khan. When I asked him about this, he told me that he admires the tactical brilliance and leadership qualities of the Khan, and attempts to emulate those in his own life. So this is a curious situation, but why am I telling you about it?

As we set our intentions, so go our lives. I have been fascinated by Mongolia for decades. Each year I say, “Next year I will go to Mongolia” and each year I say again, “next year.” Until last year. Last year, I meant it. I truly and fully intended to make it happen. I have been reading about the archeology of Western Mongolia’s Altai region. I have been emailing people who live there, calling upon people in Texas who have spent time there, and contacting researchers. I have told everyone I encounter that I am going there and invited them to join me. The more I share, the more people and resources come my way. My intention is leading to the creation of my dream.

There is a lot of discussion about “intention” and I believe it is often misunderstood. Intention is an active word, like “love.” Mr. Rogers said, “Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.” It’s similar with Intention. We need to choose carefully when we say, “I intend to take that trip of a lifetime/make that relationship change/have a healthier lifestyle.”  Do we really intend it? Or are we just wishing for it? They are not the same thing.

When Dean says he emulates Genghis Khan’s leadership, he means it. The way he completes the simple task of mowing and trimming shows it. When a family emergency delayed him from coming at the appointed time, he called us and then showed up at dusk and tried to mow in the dark because he’d promised to mow that day. His word was important to him. Leadership is as much about integrity and conviction as it is about getting people to go along with your vision. He intended to keep his promise and acted to ensure it.

Intention has to begin somewhere, and it starts with that thing that makes us feel more expansive, light, and energized. But what if you can’t identify it? How can we intend a new life when all we can see is relationships that need work, bills that need paying, and crushing workloads? Make mental space and start with one small thing that makes you the tiniest bit happier. And I mean small thing. A pretty stone, a cup of coffee, a short walk, the sound of birds singing – whatever it is that when you take time to notice it, you feel a little bit better. The hard work comes from intending to notice it when life gets hectic or stressful.  We have to start by forcing ourselves to stop – look – listen for the voice of our next intention.

What is your intention? Think hard about it. What pulls you? To what are you being drawn? I’ll share more about my intention in coming posts, and I’d love to hear about yours. Tell us: What do you intend to do with your one wild and precious life?