A month or so ago, I mentioned to my friend Emily that in a few weeks, I would be joining some friends to climb Mt Kilimanjaro, and then afterwards, we’d go on a short safari. She responded with the standard “Awesome! Wonderful! Good luck!”
And then she paused, looked at me, and asked, “Why?”
My response was my standard: “It’ll be a great adventure, a challenge, get me out of my comfort zone, do something exciting, new and different.”
She replied – “Ok – got that. But what is your INTENT? Why are you REALLY doing this?”
Hmm… An interesting question – for this, and probably a lot of things I do that require a significant investment of time and energy. I told her I had to give that some thought. And so I did.
A few days later I emailed her that I had decided that there were multiple levels to my intent – kind of like with Maslow’s hierarchy.
Adventure and excitement are at the bottom of the pyramid – the first level. Getting out of my comfort zone, and doing something new – basically what I had initially told her.
Connection to People, is next up on the pyramid: Building a special connection to the people I would be with – the friends I was going with, and others I would meet and get to know.
Personal growth: Character and resilience – would be next: Facing and dealing with hardship and challenge.
Personal growth: Spiritual was at the top of the pyramid: I planned to look for perspectives in the quiet vistas from that remote mountain, in that remote part of the world, in hopes that the dramatic setting may help me better appreciate the more routine setting where I live and work in San Diego.
With that in mind as my “intent,” just a few days after my conversation with Emily, I was on my way to Tanzania.
Emily’s question was a good one. While in Tanzania, while climbing Mt Kilimanjaro and on the subsequent safari, I thought regularly about my response to her question. These four levels of intent were a useful framework for me to think about my adventure as I was doing it.
Emily showed me the power of a good, simple question, asked at just the right time.
How did my trek up Kilimanjaro and the safari afterward play out? Did I meet my intent? Stay tuned – in my next blog post, I will offer a quick-look at my trip in terms of these four levels.
Meanwhile, a couple of good lessons here:
First, the power of a good simple question to help us focus, while we’re busy running around just doing stuff. Questions like “What do you really want? ” and
Second, you might think about your own deeper “intent” as you plan your next adventure or project. It helped me. A lot.