Personal Energy

by Stuart Harris

The spark of ideas, the laser of intent

Everything starts with mental energy.

Take any great business or creative or sporting achievement – indeed anything you regard as an achievement – and you have tangible evidence of mental energy in action.


Any undertaking, large or small, starts with an idea, an insight, a thought or a vision, which is a spark of mental energy that may pop into your mind spontaneously at an unexpected moment. That’s what happened to Archimedes in his bath (Eureka!) and Einstein walking in the Swiss Alps (E=mc²). Or it may come from outside, something you read, hear or see that plants the seed of the idea in your mind.

The great landmarks of human history all started off with the spark of an idea: the Great Wall of China, the steam engine, double-entry bookkeeping, Rubik’s cube, you name it.

So what’s that got to do with the rest of us?

Some people allow themselves to have ideas and some don’t. The ones that have ideas and insights tend to go further in life than those who don’t. And they tend to have more fun too.

When you have a new idea or insight, you feel a real change of energy internally – ‘and then it clicked!!’, ‘the light went on’, ‘the penny dropped’, ‘BINGO, I’ve got it!’ – and then very quickly you get a sharp rise in your emotional and physical energy. Inspiration! Somehow that spark has the power to trigger a great release of energy. And sometimes that energy release can last for years – even a whole lifetime.

If you want the pleasure of getting fired up by an idea, then you just have to open up to the possibility and allow ideas to spark. It’s no accident that people who never get excited about new possibilities are called wet blankets; they smother the sparks.


An idea will remain just a thought in your head until you link it with your intent. Intent helps transform an idea into reality. If you’ve ever seen a toddler working out how to climb out of her cot, or a champion sprinter preparing for a race, you’ve seen intent in action.

Nothing can add more power to your life than concentrating all your energies on a limited set of targets.

Nido Qubein

Intent is direction, it’s about knowing what you’re aiming for and focusing your attention on it; it’s holding the image of your goal clearly in mind. The energy of your intent can be felt by others. One of the high-level tests in the martial art Ninjitsu involves the student sitting with his back to an attacker who is poised to strike with a sword. The student must sense the attacker’s intent and move out of the way at precisely the moment when the attacker starts his strike. If the student moves too soon, he fails. If he moves too late...

The notion of stretching or reaching out for something is at the core of intent (the ‘tent’ part is also at the root of the word attention and indeed tension). Like a laser beam, your intent acts as a connection between you and your goal. Like a laser beam, intent is energy. And like a laser beam, the energy of intent works best when it’s balanced, focused and in phase.

Have you ever been in a meeting where someone really wanted to make a good impression – maybe a presentation, or a sales call, or even a date? And that person was so tense that they ended up making a mess of the meeting and creating a bad impression?

Of course, if there’s too little energy nothing happens. But too much is counter-productive. Intent is not about wanting something soooooo badly that you can’t think of anything else. Wanting something that badly actually disturbs the connection between you and your goal. It makes you too tense, which disrupts your energy and puts you off balance.

Intent is about having your purpose clearly in mind and building a link of mental energy between you and your goal. The power of the intent stems from the clarity of the goal. You can look in the section on Goal Setting to help you get clarity on your goals.

Anyone who has learned archery will be familiar with how it works in a very immediate, concrete form: you prepare your bow and arrow, position yourself, connect with the target through your eyes, draw the bow and raise it to align the arrow with your connection. Even after releasing the arrow, you maintain your connection with the target. If your connection is strong and unbroken, the arrow seems to fly along the path of your gaze.

Goals provide the energy source that powers our lives. One of the best ways we can get the most from the energy we have is to focus it. That is what goals can do for us; concentrate our energy.

Denis Waitley