Good Intentions are Not Good Enough

By | April 27, 2022

[April 27, 2022]  Results matter.  Good intentions are not good enough.  If you fail and yet have good intentions, you still fail.

“Hell is paved with good intentions.” – Bernard of Clairvaux, medieval reformer

Life is competition.  Life is survival.  But it is more!  Life is about living morally, about playing the game and winning by the rules, knowing when to step up and be counted (often in the face of great danger).  People see us and judge us on the outcome of our actions.  Good intentions must be accompanied by acts of our willpower to accomplish what we planned.  Getting the right results, matters.  Some people will try to convince us that it is our “intent” is essential and that is important.  Wrong!

What we say and what we do determines whether we are successful in life.  Action, the right, moral, ethical action, is required.  Frankly, there is no excuse for failure.  We should foresee future barriers to success and have the guts to take the appropriate precautionary measures.  It is immoral to use the excuse of good intent as an excuse for not taking the correct action.

All I ask is that you try your best,” my son’s Junior High School teacher told him as his class was about to play a new game on the school playground.  She was wide of the mark.  True enough, winning is not the end all, but how my son’s teammates played the game and how they treated the opposing team (sportsmanship) was more important than trying your best.  There are many obstacles on the path to a good life and those obstacles cannot be avoided by just doing your best.

Rarely will we possess all the resources, permissions, and skills to get things done the right way.  That is why developing relationships, creating trust and confidence in others, and influencing people to achieve greater things is a noble goal.  Good people get things done.  They do so ethically, legally, morally and by taking care of people.  They aspire to loyalty through tough times and good.  They have, what is called, ‘gravitas!’  The road to hell may be paved with good intentions, but the road to a life of virtue and honor is paved moral action.


Please read my new book, “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” on Amazon (link here).

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

25 thoughts on “Good Intentions are Not Good Enough

  1. Eye Cat

    I enjoyed this article and am enjoying this string of exceptional thinking by Gen. Satterfield. It’s almost as if he is having a stream of consciousness. It is good to read what he is thinking.

  2. Deplorable John

    Gen. Satterfield has been on a roll lately with some really pointed articles that take us back to the original purpose of this blog and that is to discuss leadership. But Gen. S. has noted that to be a great leader, one must first have control of ourselves.

    1. Army Captain

      Point well taken, DP. I’ve printed out several of these articles and put them in my notebook that I carry with me. When I have a few moments when things are quiet, I pull one out and read it and THINK. That is, I hope, one way to make myself better.

      1. Frankie Boy

        Excellent way of improving yourself and puts you on the path of being there – reliably – for others. Selfless service! 👍

  3. Stacey Borden

    Love this quote, “Good people get things done. They do so ethically, legally, morally and by taking care of people. The aspire to loyalty through tough times and good. They have, what is called, ‘gravitas!’ “

  4. Harry Donner

    Very famous quote, “Hell is paved with good intentions.” There is a bit of controversy over who said it first but the idea has been around for a long long time.

  5. Yusaf from Texas

    Gen. Satterfield, your articles over the past couple of weeks have really made me think. Good job!

  6. Max Foster

    We are fortunate that Gen. Satterfield has given us something to think about with this article on ‘good intentions.’ I see it all the time. Remember when we were kids and we screwed up? “But, I didn’t mean to knock over the lamp, honestly mom!” Yep, the snowflakes today are doing the same thing. It is a failure to take responsibility for our actions and to blame others or ‘fate’ for what we fail at doing. Too many are getting away with not doing what they should do and we reward them for just not screwing up. We continue to be in a ‘get a trophy for last place’ society. We have a long way to go. The first step is to get rid of the horrible Democrat Party that is allowing and encouraging this slide to continue.

    1. JT Patterson

      Unfortunately Max, you are once again right about the liberal destruction occuring across our society. How to fix it? Start with standing up to them and giving them grief. Go to school board meetings and tell them you are watching and you will expose them for any stupid stuff like CRT.

      1. Laughing Monkey

        Right, PC ideology is an ideology of hate and madness. ✔

        1. Nick Lighthouse

          Anya, i think they want safety and guarantees in their lives. Nothing else matters and they are, therefore, the very ones who are inviting tyranny into all our lives.

  7. Kerry 6

    Another spot on article. Thank you Gen. Satterfield. At some point in the next few posts, would you also elaborate on this idea a bit more. Oh, great mini-series lately.

  8. Jerome

    my sister wanted a family but got pregnant, now no daddy to help. good intent but no follw up.

    1. Audrey

      Sorry to hear about that. I think that our society is a bit mixed up and focuses on equality and equity when we should all focus on responsibility. But, sadly we are not and thus fathers who leave instead of taking on the responsibility they should have. Fatherless families is a bigger problem than we will admit.

  9. E.T.

    This is what liberals are all about. Stalin had good intentions and so did Mao. The fact that it cost the lives of 100 plus million people was just a small problem. Communism is okay now folks, move along now.

      1. Georgie B.

        Yes, the idea that leftists (call them what you want – liberals, progressives, Marxists, etc), the all want the same thing and anyone who varies from their simple ideology is evil to the core and must die. Of course, they are sophisticated enough to know they do not say that out loud or they will be crushed. Thus, cancel culture is the next best thing.

      2. Emma Archambeau

        Excellent comments. Socialism/Communism/Progressivism are all bad to the core. if you think this is the way of the future, I feel sorry for you.

    1. Dead Pool Guy

      Excellent point ET. And yet liberals are still in love with Stalin and Mao.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.