Advik is an Indian social entrepreneur, who owns a company that builds solar-powered portable water purification equipment for the developing world.
Advik's starting point for working with intention
His starting point for working with intention was his desire to make clean water accessible for all in India.
step 1: Initiate intention
Advik said he knew exactly what his core intentions were. He told me, with some pride, and a broad smile, that his intention was to make clean water accessible for everyone in India. His wholehearted belief that this was possible and that he was the man to do it seemed to be unshakable.
Advik started to manifest his intention with a firm belief that his role in life and reason for existing was to make clean water accessible for everyone in India.
This changed, as you will see when he applied step 2 of the IDEA framework.
step 2: Distil, test and refine
When Advik applied step 1 of the IDEA framework he identified an intention to make clean water accessible for everyone in India. When a business colleague asked him “why”? he began the process of refining his intention. Initially, he responded rapidly, with energy and conviction, saying that:
That nearly ¾ of all diseases caused in India are due to water contaminants.
One in eight Indians still lacks access to clean drinking water.
The poor now realise that paying for clean water can save much more in health-care costs later.
When his colleague asked again “so why do YOU want to make clean water accessible to all”? he paused for a moment, then replied: “To improve the quality of life of poor people”.
Advik realised that his core intention was to improve the quality of life of all poor people living in developing countries. Not just give poor Indians clean water.
His nested intention was to make clean water accessible to all.
He later spent some time on goals, including making clean drinking water accessible for all Indians. He hoped that his goals would help him direct his business towards the achievement of his nested intention, which in turn would contribute towards his core intention.
Advik’s starting point was a nested intention which he believed to be his core Intention. He later identified that his heartfelt core intention was broader still – to improve the quality of life of poor people living in all developing countries. The act of surfacing his core Intention galvanised his conscious and subconscious brain to notice opportunities arising that would, in slower time, help him to achieve both his core and nested inten
Step 3: Embody and embed
Advik’s nested intent of providing clean, safe drinking water was a good starting point that should help him to move towards the achievement of his wider core intention of improving the quality of life of many people living in the developing world.
Advik had a clear vision in his head about how he could help Indians on a low income to access clean drinking water. Advik had little sense of how improving the life quality of life for a wide range of people in the developing world would look and feel. Advik had been taught mindfulness at school and found it beneficial to sit down for ten or fifteen minutes a day to practice.
In order to embed his intention, Advik needed to have a greater sense of what ‘improving the quality of life’ looked and felt like. He felt it would be useful to spend some time creating a vision of this. Advik sat down to practice a ten-minute body scan mindfulness exercise to help him become more connected with his thoughts, emotions and bodily responses. After ten minutes of mindfulness practice, he started a visualisation process.
He started by imagining a book with “Improving the quality of life in developing countries” on the cover.
On the next page, he saw maps, highlighting the geographical location of developing countries.
As he turned the pages of the book he saw distressing pictures of babies and old people suffering from malnutrition and dehydration. He saw pictures of hard work and failed food crops. He saw war zones with bomb damaged homes, their contents were strewn on the floor. Mindfulness helped him to tune into the emotions that arose for him - sadness, anger and fear. It also helped him to notice how his body tensed as he witnessed the difficult scenes and emotions that arose.
After some time feeling routed to the spot amongst the chaotic scenes he witnessed in the book contained in his mind, he bravely, with some effort, turned the pages of the book once more.
This time he saw an orderly group of people queuing for water. He witnessed them filling containers with water, and walking it back to their family who drank, cooked and washed in it.
Continuing to turn the pages, he saw affordable low tech equipment irrigating the dry soil, and lush crops growing.
He saw the crops providing food for local families and revenue from surplus vegetables and fruit being sold at the local market.
He saw money changing hands at the market as the produce seller bought chickens and later goats.
Turning the pages at a pace he saw chickens breeding more chickens, goats breeding goats.
He witnessed those with resources sharing produce, expertise and animals with those who had little.
He saw a school building with desks and a teacher teaching adults in the evenings.
He saw adults leaving the classroom and applying new knowledge to farming and crafts.
He saw a young man person learning to use the internet and finding new affluent markets for locally produced crafts and artworks. He mindfully tuned into his body to notice a sense of excitement, and a sense of warmth all over his body.
As Advik closed his book he had a strong sense of wanting to make this happen, coupled with a strong sense that he was the man to do it.
At this stage, he hadn't got a clue exactly how he was going to travel from a deep sincere desire to all this happening.
What the exercise had helped him to do was to tune into a sense of what it looked and felt like. This helped his conscious and subconscious brain to embed his intention and remain vigilant to any and all opportunities to help him achieve his intention, one step at a time. Immediately after the exercise, Advik decided to do two things:
To undertake desk research to identify the main challenges facing the developing world today.
To search for case studies of those living in remote communities had broken out of reliance on farming alone for revenue and used new technology to build a brighter sustainable future.
Advik was on his way to achieving his intention.
Advik’s desk research revealed that according to Unicef data 1,300 young children die each day from diarrhoea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation. 480,000 children a year. Advik knew that in recent years the Indian government has invested in establishing better drinking water supplies and household sanitation, new latrines, so this figure puzzled him.
Further research revealed that the new latrines often remain unused and water systems frequently broke down due to lack of ownership, maintenance, and primarily, a lack of understanding about the need for hygiene and sanitation, and cultural beliefs which prevent these practices. Advik discovered that in rural areas, new facilities often fell into disrepair as there were no resources for maintenance.
At this moment many people would have started to make detailed plans and set goals. Advik avoided this temptation as he knew that narrow goals could inhibit creativity and restrict progress on his journey towards the achievement of his intention. He chose to remain focused on the ‘what’ (his core intention) in the certain knowledge that this would create the necessary momentum that would help the ‘how’ to emerge in time.
step 4: Take Action and grab opportunities
Advik’s starting point of an intention to make clean drinking water for everyone in India had been distilled and refined to a wider desire to improve the quality of life of all poor people living in developing countries. During the embedding stage, Advik discovered not only the need for access to clean drinking water but the need for education to aid understanding about the need for hygiene and sanitation and engender a sense of ownership for the maintenance of newly installed sanitation.
Advik arranged a forum that bought together government representatives, charities and local community representatives to identify and agree on actions. He could see his intention starting to take form. All seemed to be running smoothly until the last day of his forum when strong cultural disagreements between community leaders and government representatives derailed progress.
The forum that had started so positively ended in disarray with sharp divides. Advik couldn’t understand why his intention, that had powerfully driven him forward these last few months now appeared to be failing.
At the ‘Action’ stage of the IDEA framework its common for obstacles and difficulties to arise, which, whilst part of the process, can feel disconcerting. Action to create forward momentum is necessary, but often in our impatience to achieve our intent we take the wrong turn. This was the case for Advik.
His experience in hosting the forum helped him to understand the complexity of local politics and cultural beliefs that hindered progress. Advik realised that national action was problematic, and local action was needed as a starting point to gaining wider change.
Advik's OUTCOME OF INTENTION
Starting with three villages, he and his team worked closely with small charities and local communities to refurbish existing pumps in the village.
He trained Water User Committees to maintain new water supplies and sanitation.
He supplied water purification equipment and water tanks.
From this starting point, Advik’s intention started to bear fruit and continues to do so every day, helping millions of people.