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mollydrew's avatar

What is more important to doing the right thing: having good intentions or achieving the best results?

Asked by mollydrew (641points) August 5th, 2010

Too often in doing the right thing I hope for the best results when having good intensions is how I usually start. I guess all’s well that ends well, I’m not sure which is more important.

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20 Answers

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Surely anyone with good intentions hopes for a positive result. It just doesn’t always work that way. Here is a simple example: someone on Fluther today asked if it would be okay to give the superintendent of the apt. building a gift for renovating the kitchen. Many said, “yes” and that it is essentially the thought that counts. Some of us, including me, gave a nod of approval for the idea to make Eggplant Parmesan for him. This is a good intention.

But what if the man gets fired for accepting a gift? What if he is allergic to any of the ingredients? What if he now expects a gift every time he repairs something? It then becomes a bad result.

Good intentions are/should always be appreciated. I’d have to say that the best result is what really counts.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

How can we achieve any results without intentions?

Coloma's avatar

Intentions are everything.

If they are bad, the results will always reflect this. Likewise the opposite.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@Coloma What do you mean by “Likewise the opposite.”? I’ve been trying to think of an example when someone’s intentions are not good, but they achieved the best results and cannot think of one. Is that what you mean, or is it something else?

Steve_A's avatar

I’m not sure I understand the question, are you asking that doing things the correct way to get the best results is better or having good intentions in hopes that it will turn out for the better/best?

The way I understand it, I would take the latter.Results are more important, you can mean well as much you want but you screw something up,you screw it up.

When you attempt to have “good intentions” you lose some or much of your rational thinking in my opinion.

johnnydohey's avatar

@mollydrew, having good intentions isn’t an action… It’s an intention. Intentions don’t mean shit without action. Achieving the best results is implied that you plan to do an action, but the question is whether the results are for good or bad? You achieving the best results wasn’t specific in what your intentions were, therefore, only you can know if it was good or bad.

ipso's avatar

Results are primary.

Intentions are secondary, at best.

“Doing the right thing” is relative; a qualifier to both.

mowens's avatar

It honestly has to be taken on a case by case basis. I think best results normally takes the cake. However, sometimes there is an invisable moral line that should not be crossed. At that point it becomes the reverse.

Frenchfry's avatar

I am a bit of both too. I always have good intentions.
I always want the best results, always.

BoBo1946's avatar

Good intentions! Some people will do anything to get good results! Not for me! Could not step on my fellowman to achieve a goal. That is why I will never be rich.

Good question.

Cruiser's avatar

Achieving the best results!. What good are “good intentions” if nothing gets accomplished? If you are going to do anything at all, IMO you should always strive to actually at least accomplish something!! Best results are achieved by solid planning and effort which requires a little bit more than good intentions. Put in that extra effort and get those best results every time!!

Coloma's avatar


I mean, likewise the opposite when intentions are good.

Of course, the ‘old road to hell’ mantra can be true…but usually good intentions facilitate a more positive outcome than negative intentions.

BoBo1946's avatar

Great example, many coaches will do anything to win. Remember when I was in high school, there were coaches that would steal other team’s players. They would provide a home, pay the utilities, and pay the parents so much a month to buy a player. My coach was a man of intergity and won with the players that he had.

Coloma's avatar

A good example ( we have all experienced this I am sure ) is when a person, be it a child, adult, whomever goes along on an outting, errand, or to an event they really don’t want to be participating in.

The sulking behaviors, complaining, clear and obvious negative energy.

Classic example of how intent plays into cause and effect.

How many of us have spent the day with a pissy partner or child that missed no opportunity to let us know how miserable they were.

I just expereinced this the other day with a friends teenage daughter…man she was brilliant in not missing the tiniest out to let her mom know how unhappy she was about havng to come along for the afternoon. lol

Spider's avatar

Intentions are the “why” and the “way” you do or don’t do the things needed to achieve a goal. Without clearly identified intentions that are well-aligned with one’s purpose, there is no way to measure the true benefit of that action, and therefore it’s unknown whether the stated (or assumed) goal is actually “the best result.”

mollydrew's avatar

The goal in any given situation is to do the right thing. (hypothetical)
Is it more important to have the best of intentions or the end result? Example: in raising children,if your intentions are to be a good parent and raise good people is that enough? or throw intentions out of the equation: no matter what must be done the “end result is most important when raising good people.

Spider's avatar

@mollydrew In the case of your example of raising children (directly above), I believe that it’s more important to have good intentions than to depend on the result. Aside from the fact that definitions of “good parents” and “good people” are highly subjective, at what point can you know whether or not the person you raised is a “good person”. Is a good person someone who got good grades in school or has the most friends? Someone who made a mistake/broke the rules or was never caught? Since you’re talking about another person, there are way too many factors out of control of a parent for them to have complete control of how a child “turns out”.

However, I can’t help but think the intention of being a “good parent” is too general, and having several intentions that support the goal of being a good parent would be more helpful. Such as, the intention to keep the person physically safe, in good health, in an environment that fosters self-expression and learning without fear of being unloved, etc.

What is also helpful to remember is that being a “good parent” doesn’t automaticaly result in bringing up a “good person” just as people who have grown up with what some would consider “bad parents” still turn out to be “good”. So, when deciding upon intentions or end results, sometimes intentions are all you can have.

NaturallyMe's avatar

Well, to put it bluntly, nothing happens through good intentions (literally speaking), as they are nothing but thoughts, so a good end result is more important. Of course they “usually” start out with good intentions, so it’s almost hard to imagine a good end result without good intentions, unless the good end result was purely by accident.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Talk is cheap, show me something.

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