We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their actions. – Stephen Covey

We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their actions.

Stephen Richards Covey

Humans are irrationally rational creatures. We claim to be a logical species, but our own hypocrisy and double standards often keep us from applying that reasoning consistently to everyone but ourselves.

Our critical faculties are at their peak when we are judging others for their slip-ups. We tend to hold them accountable for every mistake they make, to the point of being overcritical of their actions. All of this, however, goes for a toss when we are the ones to drop the ball. In such situations, we are often guilty of rationalizing the situation by claiming that we didn’t mean for that outcome. Surprisingly, we try to justify even our failures on the pretext that it was just a case of some good intentions gone wrong.

Ask yourself this: would you have the same forgiving outlook on, say, your tenant who couldn’t pay the rent on time like the one you had on yourself when you fell behind on your bills for whatever reason?

While it is almost impossible to tell what someone else’s intentions were, it certainly doesn’t hurt to be more empathetic, at least toward people who are known to be sincere in their efforts. Such a super-positive approach is obviously not easy to cultivate, but once we start to expand the boundaries of our ‘self’, we begin to treat others just the way we would treat ourselves when things don’t go as expected. Besides, the more forgiving we are of others’ mistakes, the more leeway we will have when we are on the other side of the line.

Stephen Richards Covey was an American businessman, keynote speaker and author. Known for his motivational bestsellers, Covey wrote in his book, The Speed of Trust: “We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their actions.”