The emotions within you—they are as vast as the ocean, as varied as a painter’s palette, infinitely complex. Yet, they are as insignificant as a pebble in the desert when contrasted against the measure of your actions.


Because actions are the footprints we leave in the sands of time. They are the echoes in the caverns of life, reverberating long after our emotions have faded.

Think of intentions as the blueprint of a house. They’re the lines on a page, the grand design, the dream of what might be. But the blueprint is not the house. It doesn’t shield you from the rain or give you warmth in the chill of winter. The value lies in the brick and mortar, the actual construction. It’s the same with intentions, good or otherwise.

Consider this. If you dream of a lighthouse, sketch it on paper—but build a dark tower instead—what use is your lighthouse dream? It’s the dark tower that casts the shadow, that obscures the horizon, not the lighthouse that exists only in your mind. It’s the dark tower that the world sees, that the world experiences.

So, it’s not just about “meaning well.” It’s about the legacy we leave behind, the ripples our actions create in the pond of life. If the wake of our deeds is filled with darkness, even if we meant to bring light, what truly matters is that darkness, not our original intention.

Intentions are the seeds we plant, but it’s the fruits they bear that nourish the world around us, for better or worse. If we plant an apple seed with the purest of intentions but reap a poison apple, the world is still poisoned. And in the end, it only matters that we’ve sown harm, not that we intended to sow benefit.

So—how we feel, what we intend—these are mere shadows compared to the sunlight of action. Our intentions—they may fuel us, inspire us—but they don’t define us.

We are not the architects of dreams, but builders of reality. And in the end, it’s the reality we craft, through our actions, that will truly stand the test of time.

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Brand and Community at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2023 Stephen Boudreau.