Think Before You Act

It is extremely difficult to be in total control of our emotions. One minute we can be positive and the next we can be negative.

When we look at ourselves in the mirror, do we like what we see? In my life, and I’m sure in yours too, we have acted on certain situations before thinking about it. Then by acting this way, we have either ended up in trouble or we have regretted our actions.

1. The Importance Of Thinking Before Acting

As a leader of a team, it is extremely important that we think before we act, especially when we are working in safety critical environments.

In 1999 when I started my engineering career, I wish I would have learned to think before I acted. Especially in situations when I knew I needed help, and I acted on instinct rather than thinking about the task before I started. I had a lot more to learn than what I thought.

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When it comes to making a decision on what action to take in a situation, we can either act without any thought at all, or we can have a good think about what action to take. Then following that thought, we can make a decision on what action to take.

If I would have known back then to think before I acted, I would never have caused thousands of pounds worth of damage to a surface grinding machine. I would also never have caused hurt to some of my ex-girlfriends, and I would never have said the wrong things sometimes and caused hurt to people who were close to me.

Nowadays, I really work hard on my reactions towards people or when working on something. We all have the ability to choose our reactions to absolutely everything we encounter. We should always try and control ourselves, no matter what happens to us, especially in the workplace and when we are with our teams.

2. Being In control Of Ourselves

Being able to control yourself and thinking before you act shows good leadership, and as we are being observed by everyone, it will be noticed positively.

Human Beings react to situations in their own way. If you are already a person who embraces change and wants to make a difference, then you are highly likely to always think before you act.

If you are like I was a good while ago, and react on only how you feel then you are highly likely not to think before you act. This will probably end up in regret for you.

An example of this is when I worked in Scotland as a production manager for their train operating company in 2011. I was part of a five man team of production managers on shift, and we did dayshift (0700 – 1500), backshift (1500 – 2100), and nightshift (2100 – 0700).

The shift patterns included weekends and could be quite complex. Along with working shift, we did overtime to cover each other for annual leave and sickness.

When I wasn’t on shift at the weekends, I would always try and plan something to do. Whether that was going back to Liverpool to see my family, or sightseeing around Edinburgh. I tried to make the most of the days off I had.

However, 50% of the time, I had to scrap my plans for the weekend because it would always fall on my shift turn to cover one of the other managers in my team. They would always book annual leave on the weekend shift, and I would have to cover it.

I was only ever told the day before too, no notice at all. Whenever this happened, it really did make me mad and upset.

It might seem strange that I was told I had to cover my teammate on overtime, because that would mean more pay for me, but my reaction to this was to get upset.

I was not thinking before I reacted, I just felt that this was unfair on me so I reacted in a negative way. I was not thinking about the team or the company, or that covering a teammate would increase my influence and my trust with the team and my leaders. I was being selfish.

3. Thinking About Others First

A few months after I started this role, I started studying leadership and tried to work on myself to be a better person and make a difference every day. So I was really disappointed in myself by reacting this way.

I should have been thinking about the team, I should have been thinking about my teammate who had made his plans before I did, and I should have been thinking before I acted. Instead, I reacted in a way that I thought the team were against me and that my teammate was booking annual leave on purpose to mess up my plans.

Again, this was disappointing and when I thought about my reaction later on, I was very upset with myself.

But, instead of remaining upset with myself, I quickly learned from that mistake and would try my best never to react that way again. I can’t remember a time since then that I have reacted that way, but nobody is perfect.

I still have to work hard to think before I act in those situations. Opening up about this to you and others does help, so I encourage you to do the same whenever you’re in a similar situation.

If you continue to read this article and my other articles, and implement what I am sharing with you and do things differently, then your life will be different. Especially in your current position at work, and as part of the team, you will start to see differences in the team’s results and behaviours.

When I have implemented these principles, I have seen differences in my career and in my life. It has not been easy, and it won’t be easy for you. However, if you put in the effort and work on yourself through what I am sharing then you WILL see differences for the better.

You will also see differences with your team, your organisation, in family and friends too. Talk about them with your loved ones and encourage them to do the same. You can DO IT!

As I have stated before, it is common sense that we need to work on ourselves and improve. However, this is not commonly practiced, and that is why it takes a lot more effort than it should to make those changes to improve.

4. Who Influences Our Behaviours?

When people react negatively to things that happen to them, they have no idea that the only person that is making them angry and upset is themselves. We all have a decision to make when it comes to how we feel, and it is only ourselves who can influence and ultimately decide.

I have thought, and I’m pretty sure you have thought that a certain person you associate with has made you angry or upset. That simply isn’t true, you and I have decided to let whatever action that person has taken let us get angry or upset. It is all a decision we have to make on how we feel.

When discussing my issue earlier regarding the overtime up in Scotland, how would I react differently if the same thing happened today?

Well, who makes me wake up in the morning? ME. Who makes me leave home and go to work? ME. Who decides to come to work with a positive or negative attitude? ME. Who decides to react to an overtime issue in a positive or negative way? ME.

These questions are all decisions for me to make, nobody else whatsoever. So, today I would understand that I had to make these decisions, and today I would make the right decision to be positive.

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Making the decision to be more positive when coming to work, thinking before I acted, and deciding to react positively would improve the impact on my boss and my team. Being more positive would increase my influence, trust and also improve how people would talk about me.

If I was to behave and react negatively then my influence and trust would decrease, and people would talk about me negatively, which would be bad for my advertising.

So, the next time you wake up in the morning to go do work, what decision are you going to make? Will you react positively or negatively? How about when you walk into work and address your teammates and boss, what kind of attitude will you decide to have? Ensure you make the right decision.

If you want to have an easy life, then work hard. If you want to have a hard life, then take it easy

I welcome hearing how this post has influenced the way you think, the way you lead, or the results you have achieved because of what you’ve learned in it. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below.

Check out my other articles by Clicking HERE

All the best,

Tom (LeadGrowInfluence)

24 thoughts on “Think Before You Act

  1. Many of us don’t think before they act. I try to, but sometimes I do it too. Only today in a meeting we were given a new way to log in to our online classes. The new method is much more complicated and time consuming, and I wasn’t happy about it (nobody was), but I kept my mouth shut, lol. And it was for the best, now I think I am just going to practice this new log in at home until it gets easier.
    Sometimes I open my mouth without thinking, and then I think “oh, why did I say that?” Then I usually explain or apologize right away.

    1. Hi Christine,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really pleased that you found the article valuable.

      I couldn’t agree with you more, many of us do no think before we act. I have been guilty of this in the past. But, like you did with the online classes log-in issue, I learned to keep my mouth shut at the right times. Believe me that can be very challenging sometimes 🙂

      Good luck with your online classes and thank you again for your engagement on my articles.

      All the best,

      Tom

  2. Hi Tom. I agree with you, that we need to be able to think before reacting mindlessly.
    When we act without thinking, we are reacting from past learned behavior. When we are doing this, we are not in a position to use any intelligence as our brain is only able to learn when it is consciously engaged.
    So it is the act of being consciously aware in a situation that gives us the ability to choose how we will respond. I was able to become a better communicator by learning to pause and take a breath before reacting. Taking a long slow deep breath automatically slows the mind down and makes time for us to consider options ad then we can always choose the best way to act that will bring the greatest benefits to all concerned.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Andrew,

      Thank you for your comment. It is my pleasure to share and I’m so pleased that you found the article valuable.

      I appreciate your thoughts on this, and I completely agree that when we act without thinking, it is basically instinct. We are drawing on past behaviour that we have learned, you are so right.

      I really believe that readers of this article will learn from your contribution too so thank you so much for that.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  3. It’s always smart to think before we act, but sometimes there are many things happening at the same time, making it really difficult. And I think that exactly that self-discipline makes true leaders stand out.
    Great article, as always. Thank you Tom.

    1. Hi Tanya,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really pleased you found the article great.

      You are right, it is smart to think before we act. Even if we are finding the time or situation difficult, as a leader it is so essential that we still think before we act. Leadership is very difficult and to be a highly effective leader then we must take that difficulty head on.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  4. I agree with you Tom, that it is very hard to think first and control our emotions. In my own experience I react sometimes negatively too but then I always regret about it. There are no good decisions taken in anger, I know it now. Once I got a good advice, when you mad on someone and want to tell him/her all the nasty things, just take a piece of paper and write it down better, then throw it in the bucket. You will feel a good relief after that. We should always remind ourself in difficult situations to take a breath and think for a few seconds first.
    Keep on the great job writing these articles!
    Kind regards,
    Alex

    1. Hi Alex,

      Thank you for your comment and thank you for agreeing with my article.

      I really appreciate you sharing your own experiences with us, I believe that any readers of this article will learn from you too. Thank you so much for that.

      I certainly will keep writing these articles.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  5. As I was reading your post I immediately thought about the concept known as “emotional intelligence.” In fact, I’d say that you’re teaching a vital part of emotional intelligence in this post. I firmly believe that emotional intelligence is very important because being able to control our emotions and act logically will lead to better results. I think that I have a relatively good emotional intelligence, but I can definitely improve and will work at doing so.

    1. Hi Alejandro,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s great that you believe I am teaching a vital part of emotional intelligence.

      The term ’emotional intelligence’ was not on my mind when I wrote the article, but the concept is definitely there. Controlling our emotions as a leader is essential and if we lose control of our emotions then that can decrease our influence and lose trust with our people. So as you say, it is so important that we control our emotions.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  6. A great view and example of self-control!
    I do have the same problem, as many of us, I believe.
    I can easily find myself in a situation where my tongue works faster than my mind. Not that often is it out of a sudden anger, as that part I learnt to control with great effort over many years.
    My least controllable talking is mostly when someone is laying out a problem or an issue with something or someone in a casual conversation.
    For some reason, as soon as I can see the main point of the issue, my mind works out a possible solution, which I don’t mind. The bed part is that I go on thinking loudly, sort of offering my solution, even before or without I was actually asked for help. I still try to train myself to keep my mouth shut, unless asked, but I guess it will require even more work until I achieve that level of self-control.

    1. Hi Kerryanne,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really pleased that you found the article valuable.

      I really appreciate you sharing your experiences with us, as I believe readers of this article can relate to you, as I can. You are right that most of us have this problem and it is up to us to work on ourselves every day to overcome it. It’s great that you are willing to put the work in to overcome this too.

      If you need any further help or advice from me then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

      All the best,

      Tom

  7. Hi Tom, I love articles like this! I think being in control of our emotions is a truly noble thing, but if we have been conditioned all our life to act in a certain way then it may not be that easy.

    May I suggest this method: Whenever we find ourselves feeling negative emotions, or foresee that we are going to be negative very soon (perhaps in a couple of seconds’ time), just take a step back and observe the emotions. Be the observer seeing how we’re reacting to the situation. We may then find that the negative emotions subside in a short period of time.

    1. Hi Clark,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s great that you find this article helpful.

      I agree with your method, and I think it could work. Please let me know when you have put this method into practice and what your findings are. It would be great for you to update your comment here with what you find from your method.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  8. Great advice Tom and I think we have all been there, some more than others, me included.

    I have been critized many times for jumping in feet first but nowadays I think I am a little more reserved or I like to think so.

    In my case, I put it down to meditiation for clearing the mind. I can highly recommend it!

    Ah, you mention girfriends and shouting the mouth off without thinking. Lost count the amount of times I have regretted doing that.

    My biggest regret is when I was on an IT contract and my “Boss” spoke to me in a meeting that should have been done it private. For 2 days this was going around in my head until I had to say something. There was no diplomacy and they eventually replaced me.

    This was 2009 and if I’d kept my big mounth shut I’d have still been there today. Mortgage would have been paid off 10times over.

    Thanks for sharing Tom.

    1. Hi Mick,

      Thank you for your comment, and it is my pleasure to share. I’m so leased that you found the article valuable.

      I really appreciate you sharing your experiences with us, as I believe there will be many who can relate to you, including me. It’s amazing how we all have these experiences to share and how much they can help others when we explain how we overcame them in our lives.

      Thank you again my friend.

      All the best,

      Tom

  9. Hi Tom. I truly agree with you. We decide ourselves how we want to feel as this feeling is inside us. We have to deal with our own feeling. Lately, I have study and get a deeper understanding how negative feeling come about especially when the situation or someone triggle us. That feeling actually has been suppressed inside us since past. The triggle is just a excuse for that feeling to pour out. Instead of blaming the situation or someone, we should actually look inside ourselves and try to resolve that feeling and let it go. Once we fully let it go, no situation or anyone can triggle us again.

    1. Hi Janet,

      Thank you for your comment. So pleased that you agree with my article and that you found it valuable.

      I appreciate you sharing your thoughts on this topic, I believe there will be a number of people who can relate to what you are saying and learn from you too. I completely agree that instead of blaming someone, we should look inside ourselves first. We should always start from within, not look at others first.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  10. Thanks for creating such a great post! I’m also going to take advantage of the free offer. I love how you are encouraging people to think before they speak. The title alone can create so much professionalism, discipline, and definite eliminate the regret of saying many things not entirely intended. How many times has someone regretting and wished they would have said something completely different than what they said? I know I do this more often than I’m proud to say. Thanks again for such a great article and helping us keep the focus. Stay Healthy!
    Jamie L.

    1. Hi James,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s so pleasing to hear that you found the article helpful.

      I appreciate your kind words on how I’ve written the article and that you have shared your experiences with us too.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  11. Tom,
    Great article, I wish I could go back in time and forward this to a few bosses I’ve had. It also pointed out a few of my own shortcomings, most of which I think I’ve already corrected, but I’ll need to keep closer watch.

    This almost needs to be an open ended topic though. Imagine what the world would be if everyone thought before they acted, spoke, or did just about anything. I haven’t dug into the ebook yet, but I’m looking forward to it. Thanks for this!

    1. Hi Sean,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s great that you found the article valuable.

      I appreciate that you have shared your experience with your past bosses, as I can definitely relate to this. I completely agree that if a lot more people thought before they acted then we would be living in a very different world. Especially if our world leaders thought a lot more before they speak or act.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  12. Thanks for the tips. I agree with most of them. The one that caught my attention was think about others first. Although it is important to think of others perspective, I believe that it’s our primary responsibility to think about ourselves first and take care of yourself both physically and mentally so that you can then take care of your employees.

    I hope you understand my point if view. Great article by the way very informative and I believe everyone who wants to learn how to influence people should read it.

    1. Hi Delyana,

      Thank you for your comment. Really pleased that you agree with most of my points.

      I can see your point of view but I have to disagree. When it comes to working on ourselves and being the most valuable person we can be, then yes we must put ourselves first. But, when we are in the presence of our people and we are the leader, then it is absolutely essential that we put them before ourselves, otherwise we will break trust and our influence will decrease. If that happens then we will not be able to lead our people and help them as much as we need to.

      Keep returning, keep engaging, keep learning and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

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