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Action Imperative















This handbook exemplifies the value of purposeful action, even at the expense of preparation as the solution to the fundamental problems of aimlessness, hopelessness, helplessness, and purposeless.   The basic prescription for getting out of a nosedive, impasse,  immobilization, or crisis of inactivity is the Action Imperative.   Any action serves as a launching point for resolving the problem of inactivity.  Problems persist because a solution either has not been found or it has not been put into effect.   Once an action is started, you can continuously redirect your subsequent actions in the directions offering the best prospects of achieving your intentions, such as goal achievement or problem resolution..


Act to Survive and Thrive


If you are alive, you have basic needs that must be met to keep on living.  Failure to attend to these needs will result in pain and anguish of some sort and possibly the loss of life.  Humans live not just to survive but to thrive.  The means to both survival and the ability to thrive is concerted actions that contribute to both.


Not every felt need is definitively recognized.  The basic, human, biological needs, including the biological needs for comfort, safety, and control, are readily recognized as well as the actions needed to satisfy them.   The problem of identifying higher-order needs is harder to pinpoint.  For example, there are social needs for companionship, mating, and cooperative effort as well as the need for territory, dominance, and status.  But what about the esoteric needs for beauty, nurturing, artistic expression, self-realization, meaning and purpose, altruism, and spiritualism.  How are these higher-order needs satisfied if they are not clearly defined?  Not every need is keenly felt, other than a puzzling void or a sense that something in missing,  nor does the unnamed need give you a clue as to how it should be realized.  For instance, the need for a spiritual attachment to something greater than yourself, a connection to a supreme being, or the pursuit of noble purposes are often felt but seldom recognized, nor what could or should be done about these nascent feelings.


Needs may be felt, but first, they must described in actionable form through the use of your rational mind.  You must focus on the fuzzy needs, define what is missing in your life, and evaluate what course of action would remedy the unidentified feeling.


If you want to get results, the satisfaction of unmet needs, you must supply three ingredients.  First, you must identify the unmet need as close to its root as possible.  The more nebulous the felt need, the less effective the actions will be to attain it.  If you were to ask yourself, why do I want to satisfy this need.  The answer to that questions becomes the dominate need.  Whey can't answer the question of why, except with a because I want it, you are likely at the root of the need.  Second, to satisfy an identified need, you must know what goal, which if realized, would satisfy the need.  Lastly, you have to actually do what works - take action and achieve the goal.  If there is an absence of any one of these three ingredients, there is a good chance that you will end up with the need still unsatisfied and feeling frustrated as well. 


You need to think more, using your cognitive facilities before selecting your goals.  You must work harder and smarter if you want to be a goal achiever.  Most people don't take enough "right" action towards the fulfillment of their dreams and aspiration, and instead, they act as if they are dazed and confused, because they don't know what actions will get them the results they seek, or if they think they know, they don't feel confident in their ability to successfully execute the actions required to get the results they want.  The more often you take the right action in the right way at the right time, the more needs you will satisfy.


Do the right thing, in the right way, and do it now.

Mick Ukleja


Think about Thinking


You have a unique survival mechanism - your rational consciousness, which you should always put to its highest and best use.  Most people seldom think about their thinking, not realizing how important their conscious mind is to their well-being.  The better you learn to use your rational mind, the better the life you tend to live,  because if you think before you act, you tend to get better results.  But only if you act on the conclusions of your thinking.  Thinking well leads to wiser goals and actions and provides you with better guidance for reaching those goals. 


All thinking should lead to action.

Jeffery Washington


Since most of your behaviors are instinctual, reactionary, habitual, and conditioned, which prompts acting without thinking, you must consciously interject your thinking into the stimulus-response process if you want to provide direction onto the continuous stream of behaviors which is your life.   Always be thinking while you are acting and always be acting while you are think.  Your mind and your body should seldom be at rest except when it needs rest.


To realistically determine your options, you must quit rationalizing or justifying what you 'should' or 'should not' do.  By using your reasoning more often and relying less on your emotions to direct your first responses to new events, you will have less regrets.  Reason provides discipline for your emotions and directs them into creative, constructive outlets.          


If you do launch into an action, because circumstances seem to demand a quick response, follow-up the action with rational thinking as soon as possible so as to guide subsequent actions towards a positive outcome.    Not all actions need to be thought out completely before you launch into them.  Some situations demand fast responses, and this handbook suggests that you get into action quickly without delay.  Too many people over-think and under-act.  A judicious balance is required between thinking and acting.  If you need to error on which should come first, thinking or acting, error on the side of action, so long as the action is intended to create positive outcomes.   Follow up your actions quickly, and sometimes in parallel, with thinking, so as to guide the actions towards a successful conclusion.


Fire!...and then, ready, aim.

Source Unknown


Thinking also allows you to clarify the compelling reasons behind your actions, to precisely define the goals and end state you are trying to create.   Your ultimate reasons for immediate action should be to gain access to something you value, an opportunity that is time sensitive.  Action gets you started, but thinking guides you to your target with a winning plan.  Thinking also clarifies the rewards that can be expected if you are successful once all your actions are complete. Your rational reasons for continuing with actions, directed towards a defined goal, must create some level of excitement.  Unless your goals provides a compelling reason to continue, you have good cause to cease your actions.  It is better to 'pull-the-plug' early on, before you get too far, when the end-point of your intentions is found to be unworthy of the effort requires to gain it. 


A goal has no attraction if there is no compelling reason to attain it.

C. W. Sooter

Act to Get Things Done


Although thinking is important to your well-being, thinking by itself doesn't get anything done.  Only action gets something accomplished.  When you find yourself inactive, dazed and confused, not knowing what to do, don't just sit there passively, worrying, and fretting, waiting for the 'spirit' to move you.   You must move yourself.  Get up and do something constructive, anything that has the potential to move you and your circumstances in the right direction, to at least clarify where you are and where you need or want to go.   "It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness."[1]    You can always correct your direction as you gain insight from the results gained from the first action.  With action comes results, and if the results are right, then it means you are on a course towards something rewarding, so continue.  If the results are inconclusive or counterproductive, then stop and make a midcourse correction and start again.  At worst, you can choose to abandon the goal as not right or not right timing.

Action beget action.

C.W. Sooter


"There is a great relief to admitting to yourself and others that you don't know what to do next, but you are willing to act to find out.   Not knowing is another way of knowing something.  You know that you don't know."[2]  When you don't know something, and finding out is important, the only way to gain insight is to begin exploration of your circumstances.  Get up, get out, make inquiries, find out.  Ask questions to those you might know the answer.  The more time you spend searching, the greater the chance that you will find a viable path to somewhere you want to go.


Most people spend too much time thinking about doing and too little time doing the doing. If you spend more time in action, not only will you tend to get more done but as a side benefit, you will learn about what needs to be done.


If you don't know what to do, find out.

C. W. Sooter


Take Responsibility


"Whatever happens, take responsibility."[3] It is the only way you can get what you want out of life rather than just passively accepting what life gives you.   Since you are responsible for meeting your own survival, social, and thriving needs, it is up to you, and no one else, to provide them for yourself.  Personal responsibilities cannot be shared or delegated to other, unless you are prepared to pay them well.


If your life is going to get better, you will have to make it better.

Phil McGraw,  Life Strategies


If you are living with circumstance not to your liking, then you have two choices:  1) accept, adapt, and live with it or 2) change it.  If you choose to change it, it may require you to fight for what you want.  Either way, you are responsible.  "You must acknowledge that whatever your circumstances, it did not just happen by accident.  No excuses; you own it; you created it.  "You must acknowledge that you are getting some kind of payoff for living with what you don't want. If you don't require much of yourself, your life will be of low quality."[4]


Responsibility means that you are the manager of your life, and you tell yourself what to do.  No one can force you to do something unless you agree to it first.  Your responsibility as a 'life manager' is to refuse to live with unfinished business or unsatisfying conditions. If the world is treating you unkindly, it is up to you to change it.  "You are responsible for how the world treats you. It's up to you to teach people how you want to be treated.  For example, bullies don't bully everyone, just those who allow it.  Others respect you to the degree that you respect yourself."[5]    


You and only you are responsible for you.

C. W. Sooter


The people who move ahead in life the quickest are those who see what needs to be done, and then, they take personal responsibility to do it on their own initiative.  The people who demonstrate that they can handle responsibility, because they take it upon themselves to do what needs to be done without being asked, prove that they are ready for even more responsibility.  The most responsible people get noticed, and often, they are the ones sought out by employers who offer them even more responsible, and with more responsibility, comes more interesting and better paying jobs. 


People who witness others stepping up and shouldering more than their share of the team's work load are not only impressed, but they are motivated to step-up and act accordingly.  The taking of responsibility, when observed in one person, tends to trigger similar actions in others.  


People who are truly responsible, never take a victim's role.  Instead, they are always asking themselves, 'What can I do to make the situation I'm in better?' or 'What can I do to effect a positive change for the better?'  The best questions start with the words 'what' or 'how', contain the subject 'I', and include something about focus or action.[6]  When you take responsibility and respond with positive actions, your personal situation tends to get better just because action brings forth hope and galvanizes others in similar situations to join you.


[1] Gillian Butler and Tony Hope, Managing Your Mind

[2] Richard Carlson, Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

[3] Anthony Robbins, Unlimited Power

[4] Phil McGraw,  Life Strategies

[5] Andrew Matthews, Making Friends

[6] Jeffery Washington, a public speaker at a Toastmaster Conference





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Website last updated on 9/4/16
Copyright 2005 Charles W. Sooter.  All rights reserved.