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How I Found My 2020 Intention

By Brian Nickerson, CEO and Co-Founder, MagicLinks

Choosing an intention for the year brings focus and a commitment to action. It allows space for days where we may not fully live into it, and freedom to choose to show up differently the next day, continuously improving along and into the full expression of its meaning. It opens up the possibility of wonder, surprise, and quantum leaps.

My words for the past 4 years have been:

  • 2016: Bold
  • 2017: Bolder
  • 2018: Magic
  • 2019: Limitless

This year, I’ve chosen Zero Impact. This intention is the expression of the awareness and creativity that Limitless brought in 2019, and a commitment to taking action in 2020.

A Look Back At 2019: Limitless

Since launching MagicLinks in 2015, my longest time away from work has been four-day surf trips to Costa Rica, frequently interrupted by scrambles to find faint internet signals in the remote jungle to resolve various issues that arose. The notion of taking four days, fully disconnected from the internet, felt impossible with the challenges of launching and building a company.

However, in effort to fully live into my intention of Limitless, I braved into the unknown and challenged myself to take two separate week-long breaks in 2019.

19 Ways to a 5th World

Deena Metzger, in Topanga, CA

The first, in June, was a week-long immersion into Deena Metzger’s 19 Ways to a 5th World training. This training endeavors to shift participants’ consciousness from seeking development or vision for oneself, to seeking out the precise offering one is being asked to make on behalf of the Earth, so that all beings might survive.

I left the day after MagicLinks closed a small round of funding, and spent eight days deeply immersed in reading, meditating, group prayer, journaling, intention setting, communal meals, invigorating conversations, and a drum journey which opened 36 hours of group silence.

I learned ancient wisdom, both new and familiar. Listening: to others, to plants, to animals , to water, fire, earth and wind.

One elder had been a senior, public-facing figure for many years in the Catholic church. One day, after years of effort in bringing a positive and public face to the institutional efforts of reformation in the face of increasing reports of pedophilia, she had a realization that good people within a corrupt institution could not bring the change needed. She left her community of 75 plus years, her home, and bravely leapt into the unknown of building a new world, within this new community.

I felt inspired by her courage, both in awareness, and in action. How does one even open the possibility to recognize that everything you thought you knew might have so much more to it? And in light of that information, how does one choose to take meaningful action, and step out of a known construct and into the great unknown? I felt gratitude to be a part of a new supportive community for her.

Another elder came from a family who survived the Holocaust, and her father had become a successful entrepreneur creating generational fortune making cardboard boxes. One day, while meditating under an ancient spruce tree, the tree flashed to her an image showing her side-by-side images of bodies on a railcar in the Holocaust and trunks of trees stacked up on a truck.

A trauma loop, observed.

She changed her life instantly, leading her into environmental activism to bring healing to the destruction that her family had benefited from by processing trees.

The bodies of trees, stacked on a logging truck

During our 36 hours of silence, I would pick her up in the morning, and she would slip a fresh mini muffin into my hand. While we couldn’t verbally communicate due to our commitment of silence, the twinkle in her eye said everything. I felt simultaneously cared for and connected to the unbearable trauma of her ancestors. Feeling and sharing this grief, as unbearable as it seems, is the connection to a new vision of the world.

The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking.
It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.
Albert Einstein

Burning Man

Burning Man at night

Two months later came Burning Man. Set within a powerful context of 10 Principles, this gathering is a wonderland of creative expression that challenges conventional thinking about what we as humans can create as a way of being. A city of 75,000 is temporarily built in the middle of a dry, desert lakebed (the Playa) 100 miles outside Reno, and after a week of revelry, the playa is completely returned to its natural state, beautifully imitating the cycle of life and death.

My relationship with time, money, and food was completely transformed during Burning Man. Time is felt through the rising and setting of the sun and moon, rather than measured through the hands on a watch. Money is not allowed; the economy runs on gifting. When you are in need, it manifests. One day, with sunset quickly approaching, I realized that I could only remember eating half a bag of potato chips over the past 2 ½ days. Seconds later, a stranger approached my friend and I and said:

“Our camp has been slow roasting a pig for the last 12 hours, and it’s about to be ready. Would you like to join us?”
Hell yes we would!

“We also have an ice cold beer while you wait, would you like one?”
Hell yes we would!

Brian at Burning Man 2019

I felt particularly inspired by Burning Man’s communal embrace of Leave No Trace. As the largest Leave No Trace event in the world, the community created a fun word, MOOP (Matter Out Of Place), as a way to embed in the culture the commitment to leave the playa better than we found it. After Burning Man ended, a grade for each camp was published evaluating the MOOP, in an interactive and inspiring color map to bring awareness, and accountability, to this principle.

The 2019 Burning Man MOOP Map

These seeds of sustainable accountability are sprouting into my 2020 Zero Impact focus.

If you’re curious, hear more on Burning Man from a Nobel-winning economist, Paul Romer.

Conclusions from a Year
of Limitless Exploration

I emerged from these two experiences with a transformed relationship to the Earth, a much greater awareness of indigenous cultures, and two new and incredibly supportive communities.

I felt compelled to deepen my relationships particularly within Deena’s community, and have committed to a year-long intensive study, dedicating one weekend a month working to further develop my relationship to the 19 Ways and a reading list of more than forty books for 2020.

This commitment is focused on raising my awareness of our essential reason to live, and how to restore our relationships with the Earth and all her beings.

My Intention For 2020: Zero Impact

My 2020 intention, Zero Impact, is the expression of the awareness and creativity that Limitless brought, and a commitment to taking action.

Zero Impact is a north star to guide my way of being rather than a completed task. Daily, I’m observing my shopping behaviors, my personal preferences, my energy consumption patterns, and my waste creation, and proactively making changes.

No more single use plastics.

Bringing a travel coffee mug to Blue Bottle rather than purchasing a single-use to go cup.

Buying from environmentally conscious brands like Outerknown.

Bringing questions to long-held assumptions about where recycling goes after it’s picked up in the blue recycling bins, now that China is no longer accepting our waste.

These questions and changes that I am asking and making have already started to impact how we behave as a team at MagicLinks.

We’ve started community composting in our office, which is inspiring conversations and actions beyond the office and into our homes and families. Our team commitments to recycling and limiting paper usage and waste have inspired a new and growing emphasis on sustainability practices in our business.

What’s Next?

We are first making changes as individuals. Then as a community who make up the MagicLinks team. Soon, as we tackle the challenge of change and embody those changes in our way of being, we will bring this realm to our partnerships. We first must embed the new way of being into the minutiae of our daily existence, so that we can credibly bring this change to the world and ask for, and support, reciprocal actions from our partners.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens
can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
Margaret Mead

Expect to hear a lot more from us in this realm in 2020, as we have a unique opportunity to impact change through our ecosystem of influencers whose stories shape both awareness and purchasing decisions amongst more than 1.5 billion people.

Take a moment to imagine how these small shifts in consciousness can exponentially and quickly spread to inspire massive change in the world.

Striving for Zero Impact is a huge, seemingly impossible undertaking.

However, with small shifts, focused intention, and communal action, it can and will lead to a new world.

So let’s get started!

Be the change you seek in the world.
Mahatma Ghandi

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