Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.
This is a quote that has been attributed to Frank Jackson, a cowboy in the late 19th century. Jackson was orphaned at a young age and began life working simply and honestly for a tinsmith. He then became aquainted with a man named Sam Bass and under his influence “reluctantly” joined Sam’s gang of train and bank robbers. By 1878 all in the gang were dead or arrested except Jackson, by then known as Frank Outlaw, who escaped as the lone survivor. Outlaw remained a fugitive, wanted for the murders of two deputy sheriffs, for the rest of his life. In his later years he is claimed to have been repentent and “wanted to get square with the law,” but he never did.
The evidence is not strong that these words were actually his, but they sure fit his life. Frank Outlaw’s tragic destiny was set in motion by his thoughts and actions at a young age. A likely inspiration for this quote are the words of English novelist, Charles Reade (1814-1884), “Sow an act, and you reap a habit. Sow a habit, and you reap a character. Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.”
The Bible puts it this way:
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
Keep your mouth free of perversity;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.
Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.
Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.
Guard your heart. Your heart forms your thoughts and your destiny follows your thoughts. Like a row of dominoes, the first one you tip makes all the difference.