What Everybody Ought to Know About Action vs. Intention

We are judged by our actions, not our intentions.

For years, I was a great guy. Always thinking of others—buying flowers for a girlfriend, donating items to charity, buying something I saw at the mall just knowing my friend would love it—but seldom would I follow through with action. I was too busy changing the world. I’ll get the flowers next time or tell my friend I was thinking about them while at the mall. I was the nicest guy I knew.

Thinking the right thing and doing it are two different things. Humans cannot read minds.

The difference between actions and intentions may seem simple, but it took me years to realize the difference. My ego blurred the line between doing the right thing—action—and thinking the right thing—my intention. As a result, my conscience would nudge me, telling me something was wrong. As I ignored the feeling by keeping busy, my ego went to work convincing me I was this great and caring individual. My ego wants to keep me in a place I feel comfortable, so by blurring the lines between actions and intentions, it kept me believing I was more considerate of others than I actually was.

Three frogs are sitting on a log, one decides to jump. How many are left?

Three, the frog made a decision or had the intention to jump, but took no action.

I am judged by the world based upon what I do, not what I say or think.

What do you think?

photo credit: . SantiMB .

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  1. says

    I agree — we are judged by our actions, not our intentions. Unfortunately this is often a problem for me in my life because I typically have very good intentions but my actions don’t always reflect them. I must work harder on this!!

    • Jared says

      @Gypsy Jane,
      I’m with you. It seems to come and go for me. Sometimes I’ll think of getting my wife some flowers and put it off… often if I think of it, I’ll put a reminder in my calendar. This also got me to thinking about, “if I want to have good friends, I have to be a good friend.” Meaning take action in connecting with others… instead of sitting around and thinking… “gee, how come so-and-so hasn’t called me forever.” Like, what have I been doing? OK, I’m not sure that is even on the same topic. hmmm, maybe another post. 😉

      @Positively Present,
      We can all work harder! If we didn’t have to, what would we do then?

      “No Rain, No Rainbows!”
      -Kimo’s Hawaiian Rules

  2. says

    I would say that appeared in my life in a timely fashion – except that it’s probably ALWAYS timely for me to hear that message. I struggle with that intention/action discontinuity constantly.

  3. says

    Amen. nice post. and blog.
    I tend to think it is both. action AND intention. I like this one that an old timer said..

    “Feeling without action is Sentimentality
    Action without feeing is an EMPTY GESTURE.”

    This helps me stay on the straight and narrow when i am trying to be helpful

    • Jared says

      Nicely Said, “Action without feeling is an EMPTY GESTURE” – thanks for your comment! I like that!

  4. says

    I’m back and tickled to read this new post by you (okay … maybe not so new, but new to me). Inertia is what I call this “phenomena” in my own life. I know what to do but … do I do it? Sometimes the fact that I can’t bring myself to take a course of action is a sign to me that this isn’t the action to take, or maybe now isn’t the time. When I have listened to these instances of inertia, I have avoided making bad decisions; perhaps they were good in my head, but my heart knew better. But there are times where inertia is not caused by heart-knowledge but by fear. When I can overcome those instances, I become truly courageous and am proud of what I do.

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