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The Road to Hell is Paved With Good Intentions

Growing up in a Christian home (I’m still a Christ follower) I’ve heard that statement a fair bit over the years. In fact I still use it myself at times.

The proverb is brilliant in its simplicity: good intentions are meaningless without action.

Let me relate this to something I’m sure every man in a relationship understands. The impending yearly anniversary.

Ever year as my wedding anniversary approaches I break into a cold sweat. What am I going to do this year to celebrate our marriage? How do I impress my wife with my carefully thought out plans? What gift do I purchase her?? Combine those questions with my severely lacking creativity skills and you end up with a very stressed out Deckart!

Now I love my wife very much. She is amazing, beautiful, the mother to our three children and my best friend. So every year I’ve had not just good intentions but great intentions to create the most amazing wedding anniversary. Unfortunately on a lot of these occasions I have failed miserably. I’ve let my wife down and I’ve let myself down. ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions’.

Being a legendary dad is the same. All of us have great intentions to be one, that’s why you are reading this article. We want to be better dads than our fathers were. To give them the best opportunities in life. To love them and tell them they can do anything in life. Unfortunately these grand plans can simply be that… grand intentions and nothing more.

Intentions vs Action

Action. It’s what separates the men who make stuff happen from the wannabes. It’s the difference between the top 1% and everyone else. The legends and the average. The winners from the losers. The victors from the victims.

As a dad I have lots of good intentions. Numerous ideas, plans, thoughts and directions I want to take with my kids. But without action they all mean and amount to nothing! Zero, zilch, nada!

Theodore Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” sums it up magnificently.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,

because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;

who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

The  “Man in the Arena” rings strongly in my ears as a legendary dad.

Transitioning from Intentions to Action

Making the transition from intentions to action is actually easier than you realise. It doesn’t require some feat of super human strength or daring. Here are the steps I’ve found helpful.

Create a Personal Creed

I’ve spoken on this before in my “Let Others Feel the Weight of Your Convictions” article. After reading that article a bunch of you probably intended to come up with your Creed. But how many off you actually took action by getting off your butt, picking up a pen and taking the hour or two to write it up?? I’m guessing not very many.

Eat some concrete and toughen up! Read the article again and write out your damn Personal Creed already! I hate to say this but if you can’t even do this there is little hope for your legendary dad aspirations.

Map your Creed to Actions

Now that you have 5-7 statements take each one and think of how you turn the statement into action. Make it a single sentence action. Make it so easy you can’t fail.

For example one of my Creeds statements is: “A legendary dad should be the master of his body. He should never allow his lack of physical prowess to hinder his playing with his kids or stop him from being able to protect and rescue his family.”

My action statement is: “Exercise three times per week”. For me exercise is any of the following: gym, Ju jitsu, running or doing pushups whilst watching TV. So long as I perform any combination of those activities three times in a week I’ve had an action week instead of an intentions week.

Do this for all of your creed statements and write it down.

Read creed/actions everyday

I’ve read some very interesting research on setting goals. Take 100 people and ask them about their goals:

- 80 won’t have any
- 16 will have goals
- 3 will have goals and written them down
- 1 will have goals, written them down and will review them every day

The fascinating fact is that research has shown that the one person, with goals written down and reviews them daily, will achieve more than the other 99 combined!

I want you to do the same thing and read your Personal Creed and actions every day. For me I do it after my daily devotions on the bus ride into work. It refocuses me on the bigger picture.

Focus on small, repetitive action

Recently I’ve switched off goals and instead started to focus more on the concept of systems. My action statement above, “Exercise three times per week”, is an example of a system. A goal would be “I want to bench press 90kg”. The differences are subtle.

A goal you have either achieved or not. It doesn’t do a great job of inspiring because it is very easy to lose motivation along the way.

A system is completely different. The focus is on the process not the outcome. I know that if I keep exercising three times per week eventually I’ll be able to bench press 90kg. It’s a fait accompli. It’s the power of small, repetitive and consistent action.

Will You take Action??

There comes a time when you have to sit up and realize you are wasting the precious little time you have with your kids. To make a positive impact in their life, to set a truly amazing example borne out of our personal creed and the actions this leads to.

Otherwise one day your kids are going to wake up and realize you are a blow hard. Full of intentions but no action. You tell them all these good things but at the end of the day they know you never deliver.

So men! Dads! Aspiring legendary dads! This is a call to arms! Make a decision right this moment to take action on one of your intentions. It doesn’t matter how small it is or how much time you spend, even five minutes is enough to begin moving from average to legendary.

Here’s your first action challenge. I want you to post in the comments below and tell me the action you are going to take. Do it… do it now! I’m waiting…

Not to blow my own trumpet, well maybe a little bit, but this year I smashed our wedding anniversary out of the park. I organised with her work for her to start late and took her out to a trendy cafe in the city for breakfast. I had some roses delivered to her at work. After work I whisked her down to the beach to watch the sunset with a bottle of champagne and chocolates. I got her a tiffany necklace as a gift.

It was great to see her reactions to all of these. But what was even greater was the feeling of accomplishment I felt as I moved from intention to action.