Intentions VS Action

Intention VS Action

A friend and I had a debate recently about intention vs action. I think that it is more important for one to pay attention to their intention and ensure that it is pure and not malicious. However, my friend feels that intention is inside, which no one can see. Hence it is more important for one to correct their behaviour instead.

During our conversation, I brought up an example where I brought down a carton of isotonic drinks before a fitness test. I had apprehensions because this is a new workplace, and I do not want to come across as trying to get into the good books of my superior. But I decided to go ahead, as I think so long my intentions are pure, it shouldn’t matter how I am judged. Some may think that it is good, while others may question my intent. And because this is a variable that I cannot control, I choose to ignore it. However, for the same action of bringing isotonic drinks, if I intend to cause bloatedness to impact my colleague’s score, then I think it would make the act itself wrong. As you can see, it is the same action. But I would judge it differently based on the intent.

You can see this concept in the legal system itself, namely, Mens Rea And Actus Reus. It literately means the criminal mind and the criminal act, respectively. When someone commits an act genuinely out of good intentions, even when it results in a bad outcome, we generally refrain from making the person face the full brunt of the law. Case in point: The Good Samaritan Law. It also explains why we generally do not prosecute, to the same extent, for someone who committed a crime in a state of unsound mind.

It isn’t easy to see the real intentions of someone when they do something. However, whether one is acting out of a good heart or not will be evident for all to see given time. I reckon our actions impact our reputation, while our intention determines our character. And like what John Wooden said, Your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”.

Categorized as Journal


Hi, I am Benjamin. I am a Singaporean son, born and bred. I came from a modest background, just like most Singaporeans and went to mainstream schools like most middle-class Singaporeans. What makes me different is my unconventional choices and journey in life, giving me more profound insights. Entering a secondary school infested with secret societies in the earlier days exposed me to a different side of Singapore. I graduated well despite having a volatile phase. I chose one of the youngest polytechnics despite having a score good enough for JC, even as others tell me it is not recognised, and I would not make it into university through that path. During my National Service, I also went through a difficult phase of rediscovering the purpose of serving. My university was another defining chapter, spanning over nine years, involving many adventures and endeavours. As you can see, I seldom bother myself with dogmas. I strongly believe in Steve Job's speech at Stanford University. I hope to lead others by example, inspire them to do the same and empower the decisions they have to make in their lives. Reach me at

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