On Declarations…

Dr. Jenn McCabe

Founder of Radical Relating, Director of the World Makers Leadership Program, and CEO of Lead. Gather. Relate.

There’s often a winding twisted road to change especially the kind of change that produces a lasting shift in who we are and how we make our way in the world. This winding road is especially characteristic of movement toward the kind of commitment I want to discuss here—a commitment to what you know, also called a declaration of universal intent. A declaration of universal intent is a formal statement applicable in all cases.

Ask yourself what it is you know? Ask yourself what it is you know that you are willing to be responsible for? Then ask yourself what it is that you know, are willing to be responsible for, and are willing to commit to without condition? Your answer is a declaration of universal intent.

Now I know that may seem like an easy thing to do, but I assure you it is not. Declarations of universal intent are rare. I know a whole bunch of things, and I bet you do as well. How much of what you know are you willing to take responsibility for? Back in the day I was an intensive care unit nurse. I was willing to take responsibility for quite a bit of what I know about the human body and its response to trauma. I bet you can think of some things you know that you are willing to take responsibility for too, but that list is substantially smaller than the list of all the things you know.

We are aware of what we know, and when we turn our attention to what it is we are willing to be responsible for, the options narrow substantially. We can narrow that list even further by asking ourselves what it is we are willing to commit to without condition. It is of course that last phrase, without condition, that gives us pause. It narrows the options to maybe one or two things, right? Maybe not even one or two if we’re being honest with ourselves!

I say good.


A declaration of universal intent isn’t something to be undertaken lightly because a commitment is to be taken seriously.

A commitment to what one knows takes time. You’re getting ready to declare something that is constant, uncommon. It is a risk to do so, as you may be wrong, even though you’re not.

How does one arrive at a declaration of universal intent? You do your fiduciary duty to your commitment. You turn over every stone, ask every question, and try out your declaration in every situation and interaction. You do the work to know without condition that the thing to which you are committing stands in all cases. This process takes time. It takes diligence. It takes study. It takes a willingness to have your knowledge torn apart and torn apart again.

It takes getting to the root of what it is you know and then doing it again until you are sure that what you declare is applicable in all cases.

This is why declarations of universal intent are rare. And who cares? Could you go your entire life and never make a declaration? Sure. And you’d miss out on one of the most transformative acts of the will you can make.

You see, when you do the work to make and commit to a declaration of universal intent, you shake things up and draw people toward you. A declaration holds an attractive power. It’s authenticity in spades. It’s leadership such as we rarely see in this day and age.

Now I’ve outlined the process pretty succinctly here. I don’t want you to think it is all investigation, reflection, and roses when making the journey to a declaration of universal intent. So head on over here and read an example of an interaction I had that solidified one of my own declarations. It was a bit of a doozy, but it’ll illustrate the kind of work necessary to declare.


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