I recently visited Bhutan, a fascinating, tiny country in Asia, just south of Tibet and north of India. Famous for its breathtaking natural beauty and unique architecture, Bhutan was closed to the West until the early 1960’s. Television arrived only a decade ago, and there is still one highway north-south and one east-west with no traffic lights, even in the capital city.
Bhutan is well-known for its incredible landscape. Yet for a Westerner, what was remarkable was the prevalence of prayer flags. They are visible everywhere, particularly at high elevations, bridges, passes, and around fortresses and temples. The tall white ones are for the dead. They are placed in clusters perched together as they stand tall against the wind brought through the mountains and valleys. The colored ones represent the five elements. Blue is for the sky, white is for air, red for fire, green for water, and yellow for earth. Bhutanese believe that all five elements are important for having harmony and health.
This got me thinking about intention and how powerful it is as a practice.
When we surround ourselves with visual reminders of our intention, we provide “cues” to our mind and body as to what to attend to. I noticed myself wanting to share in this culture by hanging prayer flags when we visited auspicious places, allowing my intention to be part of that moment and that place. I noticed wanting to spin the prayer wheels that are outside each and every temple, and are by custom, spun by all who enter and leave. It reminded me to have an intention for that moment.
Although the custom was foreign to me, the rationale was not. We have the opportunity to set intentions as leaders, and we could benefit from visual reminders of those intentions. I have noticed that by bringing the notion of “intention” to clients, they began to observe and behave differently.
Pay “attention” to your “intention.”
What is one small step you could take in the month ahead that would help you become more intentional in your leadership style?
By becoming aware of the power intention has, you can use it to support changes that help you become more effective in each day.
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