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?

2017-04-29T04:57:34+00:00 Servant Leadership|4 Comments

About the Author:

Ben Lichtenwalner is the founder ModernServantLeader.com – the leading blog on servant leadership and top 35 site for any leadership topic, globally. Ben also speaks and consults on IT and management topics for a large variety of clients. Find out more about him at https://ModernServantLeader.com.


  1. Dan Rockwell March 14, 2015 at 1:19 pm - Reply

    Ouch! That’s all I have to say.

  2. Herdís Pála Pálsdóttir October 4, 2015 at 8:33 am - Reply

    Great reminders in this article, even though I´m more in favor of evaluating oneself, instead of judging…

    • Ben Lichtenwalner October 4, 2015 at 1:39 pm - Reply

      Thanks Herdís, great point and I’m glad you appreciate this as a reminder. Keep serving!

  3. ES March 8, 2016 at 3:16 pm - Reply

    “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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