Seeking to discover unimagined possibilities is the work of leaders. When we can begin to imagine fresh, new possibilities, we have a signal that our personal freedom is being unleashed. A leader is often defined as the person who unleashes the imaginations of those who surround him or her to achieve great ends. But the first step for each of us is to persist in our own process of personal mastery.

Once we imagine the most courageous intention, we must break through what inhibits our imaginations. A way to do this is to let intention guide us—in fact, to let it drive us. Intention can be clear but not easily articulated. Sometimes our intention stretches to places before we can even imagine them, yet we are clear because we are motivated. At times, we sense possibility before we can define it. That’s no reason not to let it inspire us about ourselves or about the future.

Intention has some basic building blocks. In life and in work, if we know what we want, we can begin to focus our intention. But few people can state what they want. At best, they define themselves by negatives, by what they don’t want or what they’re not likely to do. Effective leaders press beyond this limiting point of view and make positive assertions about what they want.

Let’s start with today. What do you really want? Challenge yourself with this question. Your energy is limited. Knowing this, what do you want from investing your life’s energy at this moment, for this day? An exercise like this one can help you get clear on what you want.

You may need to take some time to reflect quietly on your own. A smart step is to turn to a mentor or trusted colleague for feedback on your ideas. There are people in your life right now who would be happy to act as a sounding board outside your work setting, and they can challenge your habits and false assumptions better than you can.

What matters is that we pull ourselves away from the assumptions that prevail in our daily lives. Then, we can break out of what is holding us back and eventually blaze a trail for those around us to leap higher.