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Intent vs. Impact 

I came across a quote by Stephen M.R. Covey that said, “We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behaviour,” and it got me thinking. Is this true? 

I first imagined this scenario: I’m driving on a freeway, and all of a sudden, a reckless driver is coming up from behind; they are speeding and flashing their lights. As they race past, my initial thought is, “Wow, what a terrible and dangerous driver.” However, if the roles were reversed and it was me speeding down the highway, I might justify my actions by saying, “I’m late and have an important presentation at work.”  It made me realize that what Covey stated is true – whether we recognize it or not, there are many scenarios like this in our day to day lives. We find ways to excuse our negative behaviors with our good intentions.

So what can we do to stop ourselves from jumping to conclusions when assessing other’s behaviors?

Unfortunately, we are all guilty of too readily judging others. To a certain extent, this can provide us context. However, it can also inhibit us from giving someone the benefit of the doubt. Reflecting and noticing how quickly we are to judge other people can help us consider how quickly other people possibly judge us. While this can work out in positive or negative ways, coming to this realization can help us be more intentional about how our words, actions, and behavior impact the world around us. 

*Leadership Lesson*

Day in and day out, we are bombarded with information. To make sense of it all, our brains develop short cuts or sorting mechanisms. This is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, these sorting mechanisms can be incredibly helpful. But, they can also lead us to false conclusions or assumptions. 

To gain a more holistic perspective, it is important to understand where these assumptions come from. The Ladder of Inference can be a useful tool. This model graphically shows how we use whatever amount of data we have to determine what is valuable, interpret what that means, draw conclusions, and take action. 

As leaders, we must be willing to challenge our biases and conclusions. In various situations, ask yourself these questions: 

  • Where am I getting this data from? 
  • How reliable is it? 
  • How are my own biases affecting my interpretation of that data?
  • What do my behaviors allow others to believe about me?
  • How can I be more intentional with the information I give? 

*Meet the Author*

Kylie is entering her second year with Leadership Inspirations! She is currently a student at Chapman University, working towards her B.A. in Integrated Educational Studies with a double minor in Psychology and Leadership. 

Favorite Quote: “Take your time, don’t move too fast, troubles come and they will pass” – Lynyrd Skynyrd

Fun Facts: 1) I grew up overseas in 7 different countries 2) I love music and love to sing 3) I can play 5 instruments!