Act Think Feel

In this blog, I discuss three fundamental aspects of human behavior – acting, thinking, and feeling. I first encountered the concept of act/think/feel as a young child in 4-H. Their motto, ” head, hearts, hands, and health,” could be expressed as “think, feel, act, and result.”

Knowing is not enough,
we must apply.
Willing is not enough,
we must do.

-Bruce Lee

Later in life, while pondering my motivations, I devised what I call The Learning Loop: feelings inform us of our needs; needs are met by acting; acting leads to new feelings. Then, I wondered, which comes first, acting, thinking, or feeling? Could I jump into the loop anywhere? This was not a helpful question. I gave up pondering.

A few decades later, I was thrilled to discover Theory U: Leading from the Future as It Emerges by C. Otto Scharmer. The U directs us first to act, then think, then make use of our feelings and nonverbal insight to inform our new thinking and our next acts. The beauty of this sequence is that all of our basic skills are engaged, and the sequence begins and ends with timely action in just 3 days, no pondering or sitting around! Beginning and ending with action energizes and motivates me. I develop a sense of purpose.

I have reframed Otto’s writing using only the most basic of words. My intention is to utilize Theory U as a tool for getting on with daily life. The U graph clearly illustrates the pathway from acting through thinking and feeling and back to acting.

Here are the same steps in linear sequence.

START – 75 minutes is long enough

ACT  – Declare an intention.

THINK – Describe the situation now.

FEEL – Be still, absorb data for at least 3 minutes of silence. Then use sketches, scribbles, drawings. Let go the old. Let come the new. Work in the present moment.

THINK  – Close in on viable ideas.

ACT – Define small steps for the next 3 days.

FINISH   – Get on with it!

The U graph is easy to draw. I use it almost daily while journaling.

Otto would say I have barely started. He is out to change the world. “This is the moment when what we need most is enough people with the skill, heart, and wisdom to help us pull ourselves back from the edge of breakdown and onto a different path.” 

― C. Otto Scharmer, Leading from the Emerging Future: From Ego-System to Eco-System Economies

Whatever you can do
or dream you can,
begin it;
Boldness has genius,
power, and magic
in it.

-Goethe