By Scott Westerman
“Always question your motivation. Why you decide to do something is much more important than what you ultimately do.”
What are the factors that impact the decisions you make in life? Are you in pursuit of purpose or personal glory? This has been on my mind lately as I’ve witnessed several incidents where chasing status and ego gratification were driving uncomfortable behaviors in people I know to have giving hearts.
Accomplishment does not equal entitlement.
The value of the things we do is defined by the intentions behind them.
When we make decisions, the intention behind them drives the outcome.
So question intention. What motivated a behavior? What is the true purpose of a goal? What is the real reason someone want’s you to do something?
This question can be helpful when someone acts in a way that is out of character. There may be some deeper issue that is influencing them, something that has nothing to do with you. Understanding the forces that are contributing to their current situation helps you process their behavior and respond in the most productive way.
It’s also helpful to question your own intentions. When you have an idea, make a plan, take an action, react, what is the real reason behind it? How much ego is connected to it? What personal needs are driving it?
It’s easy for us to convince ourselves that we are doing something for the benefit of others, for the betterment of humanity, out of altruism, when we’re really doing it to right old wrongs, resolve unresolved relationships or because it satisfies a need that we have. (By the way, it’s totally ok to do things to satisfy our own needs so long as it does not intentionally hurt someone else.)
“Real intent is the crux of all behavior,” writes author Tim Conner. “We may do our best to mask our real feelings, attitudes or issues but sooner or later our behavior will give us away.”
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And then there are the “optics”. “It doesn’t really matter why you do something, ” a friend once told me, “People will have their own perceptions of what the ‘real’ reason might be, and usually jump to the worst possible conclusion.”
Perceptions are often the result of someone else’s biases and insecurities. They are always out there and whatever you do, you’ll generate questions about why you really did it. Whatever you do, there will always be those who will see it in the most unflattering light. Preconceived notions are how small minds justify their own biases and incompetencies.
Anticipating perceptions can be a good opportunity to think through your intentions. Search your heart. Make an honest analysis of what’s driving your thought processes. And do what you think is right.
You’ll be true to yourself. And in the end, that’s all that really matters.