Judge Yourself by Your Actions, Not Intentions

We judge ourselves by our intentions, others by their actions. – Unknown

Judge is not Being Fair

Why is it that we judge others by actions but ourselves by our intentions? I suspect it is simply a matter of ease. For example, we know what someone else does but we cannot read their mind. In contrast, it is very easy to know our own intentions, but we justify conflicting actions by pointing at excuses. So instead, we judge others by their actions but ourselves by intent.

If we hold ourselves to the same standard as others (our actions), we will have a different picture of our self: the perspective others have of us. For example, if I shine the light of judgement by actions on myself, I find someone different than I intend at times. I suspect we all do:


Our intention is to be fun-loving, energetic, dependable parents and a strong, loving and romantic spouse. Yet, what I often find is that my children get a tired, distracted father with too little time and my wife sees something more of an acquaintance who still forgets to put the toilet seat down. When I judge myself by  actions at home, I know I have work to do and targeted improvements are clear.


In the office, many of us despise gossip. Yet how often do we allow it to occur? We even judge those who spread gossip, but not ourselves for failing to stop it. I find that we often watch others excel time and again, but cut no slack when the first failure comes. For ourselves though, our intentions are what matter most in a failure.

Judge not, lest ye be judged. – Matthew 7:1

Our actions betray us. While we should not judge others, when we do, it is by their actions. When judging ourselves it is our intentions. Shouldn’t we hold ourselves to the same high standard?

 Question: What about you? In what other ways do we judge others by a tougher standard than ourselves?


Picture of Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner is the founder and principal of Modern Servant Leader and Radiant Forest, LLC. He has studied and promoted servant leadership awareness and adoption for over 20 years. He is the author of 2 leadership books and has 2 decades of corporate management and leadership experience. His corporate experience spans CIO, VP, Director, and many management roles at Fortune 500, INC 500, and Nonprofits. Ben’s education includes a B.S. in Management Science & Information Systems from Penn State University and an MBA from Lehigh University. Ben's Full Profile Here: About Ben Lichtenwalner

4 thoughts on “Judge Yourself by Your Actions, Not Intentions”

  1. “We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their
    behaviour.” ― Stephen M.R. Covey,
    The Speed of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything

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