Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Good Intentions

Intentions are a very important part of human behavior. Almost any action can be judged as good or evil based upon our true intentions. Unfortunately, many of us only think we have good intentions, when we are actually self-deceived.

A recent incident is a good example of this. Without naming names, two people I know had an experience with this. They were planning to do a particular task, for which they would be paid $200—$100 to each man. The first man was happy to have a duo, but the second man suggested adding a third person (his son), to which the first agreed that it would improve matters. However, he said, the sum they were to be paid was too small to split three ways, and considering the distance they had to go, it was not worth adding a third man. The second man agreed to this reasoning.

It seemed it was settled that a third man would not be employed. However, the second man, went ahead and invited his son anyway. When the first man questioned this, the second replied that he would share his half with the third man (they would each get $50, while the first man would get the originally agreed upon $100). Seeing as it was the second man's son, it made sense that he was trying to help his son out financially—even a little.

The task was done, and done well. The second man accepted the payment, and gave the first man his share—$70... oops, wait. The second man had gone ahead and split the money three ways after all. Had the first man agreed to the second man's original assertion, there would have been no problem. Had the second man been more assertive about his desire to cut his son in on the money, there also would have been no problem.

The second man's actions of helping his son were good, but his intentions to pull a "fast one" were bad. This could have been miscommunication if it were an isolated incident, but this person has a history of similar stunts. He didn't personally get anything out of the deal (he lost $30), except the satisfaction of being a smooth-operator.

If a good action is to be supported by good intentions, then it must be transparent. What is the point of tricking someone into helping you help someone else. That just ruins the whole point of giving.
FEATURED MEDIA: Leadership and Self-Deception - Told as a fictional story, this book explores the intentions of people's hearts and how self-deception can ruin a business, a marriage, a life.

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