Miles from the nearest village and several from the road, a winding red dirt track leads down to a clear, green pool just as the river plunges 2,000 feet off the edge of the escarpment into the muted mauve, leopard populated and sparsely inhabited valley below.
It’s called the Pungwe River, and it’s in the eastern highlands of Zimbabwe, in the heart of Africa.
As a child, my father took me there. As an adult, I took my children there. Now I want to take my grandchildren.
Setting an intention
So I have set an intention to do that, when they’re old enough to remember and take the memory with them into their adulthood.
Along the way, I’ll introduce them to the land of their mothers’ birth and to the mysterious and addictive continent that is Africa.
It’ll also help them appreciate the richness of their lives in contrast to the paucity of so many million children, who are not only poverty stricken, but have lost those who would love them enough to set an intention for their future.
That time is 10 years off. I’ll be 72. Now that I have an intention, I can concentrate on short and long term goals. They’ll cover finances, physical health, and the practical implementation of such a voyage.
The clarity of my intention is as clear as that still green pool that lies just above the tumult of a cascading volume of water over the escarpment. It’s a perfect analogy.
Running a business. It’s like a running river
Getting clear on anything, especially building and running a successful business, is like the eddy and flow of a running river.
The river might run into and around rocks and reeds, or divert into still and fetid ponds along the banks, but it will always find its way out to continue its inexorable, gravity-driven journey to the distant sea.
Reaching clarity of intention is as beautiful and transparent as a still pool. It is a quiet place. Just for a moment.
Unleashed, a clear intention creates it’s own momentum, just like the rushing waters below the pool.
Ask anyone who has decided to start a business, run a campaign, stage an event, re-launch, re-brand, partner or exit.
An intention is only as sound as your purpose
But, put yourself at odds with your highest values, your principles, the reason why you’re here, and your intention must founder. Sounds obvious, but so many of us do, in business and in life.
Once, I set an intention to make lots of money on the Internet. I applied every resource I had: money, time and effort, but I didn’t. I couldn’t.
Everything I needed to do to make loads of money on the internet clashed wildly with who I am and what matters to me. It was simply impossible to do what I was being taught to do.
For a long time, I believed I’d failed.
Simultaneously, I’d was being driven by a burning desire to make a difference in the lives of suffering children. This intention catapaulted me into a momentum that has seen the formation of a global community still working today to do that.
I failed to make millions, but succeeded in contributing to a movement that continues to impact on the lives of tens of thousands of orphans and at risk children in Africa. That’s a lesson for life.
The law of precession
When I did a TedX talk last year, a fellow presenter was a well known American social theorist called Marshall Thurber.
He started his talk, saying, ‘Whose life here has gone exactly according to plan?’
Then he referenced me. ‘That woman Sandy McDonald, she started out to make millions on the Internet and ended up changing lives.’
Apparently, it’s a theory, an immutable law. It’s called precession.
Just like the Pungwe River, as long as you are driven by an intention true to your life’s purpose – in its case to get to the sea – despite the diversions, you’ll move forward. Even when you don’t believe it.
A boulder. A challenge. A still green pool. Clarity. A 2,000 foot waterfall. Forward momentum. An uncharted valley. Exploration. The sea. Expansiveness.
Poetic as it sounds, such a picture fills me with energy and the desire to stay clear on my intention and enjoy the ride. I hope it does for you too.