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Sunday, 31 March 2013

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Why act without thinking!

Sri Lankans are an action-oriented nation. We, by nature like to act fast and finish a job as fast as possible and if the outcome is not the desired result; blame external factors and never the actual reason.

A cheetah can run faster than a man, a tiger can fight stronger than a man without a weapon, an eagle can fly high and have a wider vision, but there is one unique advantage that man has over these and all other creatures; he has a superior brain.

A man can, therefore, win only if the brain is properly used supported by the body and not the opposite. True; results can be achieved both ways but what matters is the quality of the result not just any result quickly.

Isn't this inherent weakness of Sri Lankans true in professional and personal life? Think about it. Pause for a moment and reflect on your past actions. You will discover many instances where you may have been too hasty and achieved results which did not align with your goal.

Slow down for more effective execution

Sri Lankans need to slow down and think before acting. Sadly, today for most people performance is about merely achieving results; not achieving the best result. Knowing or thinking before acting is perceived to be a waste of time for some people. 'Wasting' time to achieve a better result is not all that bad and in fact that is the right thing to do.

Some people do need to 'waste' a few minutes thinking and planning ahead of time rather than just trying to make-do and do a makeshift job of everything. The discipline of evaluating alternate actions and making the right choices following correct analysis, comprehension of the situation, goal setting and planning are fundamental steps that are critical before going on to achieve the desired goal.

Take time to evaluate all options

Every single problem has more than one solution and it is important to understand and evaluate all the alternative approaches one can take to solve a single problem and then pick the best in terms of quality, time required, relative value of the outcome for a speedy result. Speed is critical too but it has to be the right quality at the best speed, not just any quality fast.

Focus clearly upon the problem. Ask yourself what exactly the problem is, and why it is a problem. The more clearly you see your problem, the more likely you will be to make a choice that works out as you hope it will. The rest is easy.

Don't fire without aiming

You wouldn't fire a gun without aiming, would you? So, why should we act without thinking? When we live like robots doing whatever feels good instead of whatever is best for us, there is a heavy price to pay.

Replacing thoughtful behaviour with thoughtless acts leads to material, mental, and physical suffering: lost dreams, emotional turmoil, and bodily pain and illness. The less mistakes you make, the faster and more sustainable is the progress you make in this fiercely competitive environment.

At work places, sadly, acting emotionally instead of rationally is the cause of much needless failure. The smart thing to do when emotions grip our imagination is to stop and think and know before we do or act. So it is more important for leaders than for the followers to understand this critical need to create an environment within which people can take enough time to 'know' before they 'do'. This way, we will build more sustainable organisations through capable people and their decisions.

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