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Signal Your Intention

“Hey, do you see me? I’m trying to get into that lane! Why is no one letting me in?!?
Come on, people!” This is me - talking out loud in my car to all the other drivers who can’t hear me, in heavy traffic, on major roadways. And this would be one of my children, sitting in the passenger seat, eventually saying to me,


I don’t signal. I get caught up in thinking that plans that are obvious to me, must be somehow obvious to all around me. I can also completely convince myself that the most effective way to move in new directions in traffic, is for ME to be the one IN CHARGE of spotting the opening. I get stuck in believing that it’s all up to me. I often forget that if I communicate my plans to those around me, others may also work WITH me. There might be a collaborative move to shift the flow, to respond generously - or even to respond selfishly, because the move I want to make aligns beautifully with that of someone else! That kind of collaborative energy doesn’t occur all the time; but it hardly ever happens if I don’t signal my intentions.

A good intention clothes itself with sudden power. Ralph Waldo Emerson

This ‘blinker resistance’ of mine makes me think about how this is also relevant to me and you in our professional lives – people working within deeply connected systems. As you manage the emerging conditions of your systems work, including times of shifting your own visions, plans and goals, do you ever find yourself setting new intentions but keeping them all to yourself? Why is that?

It could be that there is something about keeping our intentions very quiet that means you are either not fully conscious nor fully clear on what intention is crystallizing for you. There is a powerful first step in setting an intention which is to make it clear and visible to yourself. You need to take time to reflect and consider your understanding and vision of the emerging path before you. Become clear in your own mind and then put your intention into words and/or images. A true intention, communicated clearly to yourself, feels authentic – and exciting.

On the other hand, the power of a clear intention can also be unnerving, causing you to question your readiness, your abilities – can we do this? Am I the one to do this? Up pops the ‘imposter syndrome’ where talented individuals fear having their inadequacies finally revealed for all to see! Watch for any inclinations you have to hide your true intentions, concerned that others will express ridicule or a lack of confidence in your abilities. Or are you perhaps a people pleaser? Then, push past your discomfort at the thought that some might disagree with decisions you’re making or criticize your ideas – have faith in your intuition about what’s next for you. And be wary of your inner control freak – try to overcome any natural tendencies to feel that it’s up to you to create every single step forward instead of asking for what you want and counting on others to help in various ways. Quiet those inner voices and trust your instincts and your experience – have faith in the call you hear and are trying to heed.

Inspiration is intention obeyed. Emily Carr

Once your intention becomes clearly visible to you, once you are conscious and sure about your intention, in that moment you’re already sending that signal out into the broader field. With that out there, now be watching for signs that you need to communicate it more deliberately - be brave and trusting enough to state your intentions with relevant others. When is the right time and space to communicate your intentions? I think it’s long before you feel completely ready and long before the path forward is totally clear – it’s when you commit, internally, to obey your intention. Obeying the call of your intention is a commitment to yourself and your journey. Stating that commitment, signalling your intention, is part of the process of co-creating the path forward. Maybe, we need to signal our intentions in order to have the best chance of seeing them become real.


When you set an intention, when you commit, the entire universe conspires to make it happen. Sandy Forster

Then pay attention to what happens. Until we let the field around us know what we intend to do next, we cannot fully anticipate how all that surrounds us might open or close, speed up or slow down, come closer or make room. We signal our intentions as an invitation for others to now help make it happen – and as an affirmation to ourselves that we believe it’s possible.

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