Don’t React, Act

Reacting to conflicts often leaves us in the lurch. However, with time, patience, and practice, you instead can make responding or acting your primary method of dealing with tricky situations.

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on Earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” —Thomas Jefferson

Many conflicts arise when people react rather than act in a situation. Most problems could be resolved if people endeavored to do so with a positive attitude. Here, act is accompanied by a positive attitude, while react comes with a negative one. You can easily judge a person by the way he or she approaches a conflict. If the person approaches it with a negative attitude, the conflict will be aggravated. However, if the person approaches it with a positive attitude, the conflict will be resolved easily.

People often blame God for all their problems, when they alone are responsible for all of them. When people attack others negatively and with a bad attitude, they invite problems for themselves. Sometimes envy takes over and they sever their relations with others. Other times, people blame individuals for all issues without looking at ideas to resolve them. People often want an easy life and quick success and compromise on several things, and then blame God for the consequences.

90:10 Principle

When one of my students wanted to share the 90:10 principle with me, I requested him to share it in the presence of other students, so they, too, could benefit from his knowledge. He said that 90 percent of problems can be solved by acting rather than reacting to the situation, and that 10 percent of problems are beyond human control. Therefore, we should not concern ourselves much with that 10 percent that arise out of external forces and factors, but we need to take a look at the 90 percent of problems that can be tackled easily with a proactive attitude and approach. Treat every problem as a prospect and every lesson as a path toward your success.

Reaction vs. Response

People often miss the subtle difference between reacting and responding. There is a difference between the two, with the former word sending a negative and the latter a positive message. If people know the difference between the two and approach a situation intending to respond rather than react to challenges, I am sure most problems can be averted and conflicts resolved.

It is essential to respond rather than react, and to act rather than react to others. By nature, most people react rather than respond to unfavorable situations. This proves to be costly later. And most people are aware of this, so it is unfortunate that people still react in the heat of the moment and regret it later.

Reacting often leaves us in the lurch. However, with time, patience, and practice, you can make responding your primary method of dealing with tricky situations. Sometimes people magnify tiny problems and worry a lot, resulting in more provocative reactions. Certain things in our lives are beyond our control. There is no point in reacting to such situations. People often waste their precious energies by brooding over things over which they have no control.

Life is in your hands. You have a choice to make—either to react or to respond to a conflict or a tricky situation. It is said that below-average individuals talk about individuals, average individuals talk about issues, and above-average individuals talk about ideas. Everything is present in the human mind, and informs how an individual views a scenario and approaches to handle it.

Your life depends on the path you choose and the decisions you make. Life is full of challenges, and people face problems from the cradle to the grave. Responding rather than reacting makes sense, and makes your life peaceful and pleasant. It also helps you to empathize with others when they have problems of their own.

Several wars have broken out due to the reactive attitude of our rulers. If rulers had only acted with restraint, they could have averted such conflict. Ultimately, it was the people who were killed and countries that met with disasters. When people act rather than react, most of their problems are resolved naturally.

To conclude, have a positive, right, and strong attitude and learn to act rather than react to situations. I also advocate for one of the success sutras from my book, “21 Success Sutras for Leaders”: Have an attitude of gratitude toward God.

Professor M.S.Rao, Ph.D., is an international leadership guru and leadership educator, executive coach, speaker, and consultant. He has 34 years of experience and is the author of 30 books including 21 Success Sutras for Leaders ( that was ranked as one of the Top 10 Leadership Books of the Year – 2013 by San Diego University. His award-winning bookSuccess Tools for CEO Coaches: Be a Learner, Leader, and Ladder,” is the Community Award Winner for 2014 by Small Business Trends ( His award-winning book, “Smart Leadership: Lessons for Leaders” ( has been published as a Spanish language e-book. His vision is to build 1 million students as global leaders by 2030 ( He has been honored as an upcoming International Leadership Guru by Leadership Gurus International ( and listed as one of the leading achievers around the world in Marquis Who’s Who in the World in 2013. He serves as an advisor and judge for several international organizations, including Global Leadership Awards, Malaysia. He received the International Coach of the Year 2013 Award from Comprehensive Coaching U, Inc. Professor Rao coined an innovative teaching tool called Meka’s Method; a leadership teaching tool, 11E Leadership Grid; and a new leadership tool called Soft Leadership Grid, based on his new leadership style, “Soft Leadership” copyrighted with Jossey Bass. He led a Webinar on Soft leadership organized by International Leadership Association ( A No.1 ranked speaker in India, reviews can be found at: Books can be found at: Most of his work is available free of charge in his four blogs,, and You can e-mail him at and follow on Twitter at @professormsrao Contact him via e-mail at and follow him on Twitter at @professormsrao.

Professor M.S. Rao, Ph.D.
Professor M.S. Rao, Ph.D., is the Father of “Soft Leadership” and the Founder of MSR Leadership Consultants, India. He is an International Leadership Guru with 43 years of experience and the author of 52 books, including the award-winning "See the Light in You" ( He has published more than 300 papers and articles in international publications, including Leader to Leader, Thunderbird International Business Review, Strategic HR Review, Development and Learning in Organizations, Industrial and Commercial Training, On the Horizon, and Entrepreneur magazine. He is a soldier, entrepreneur, editor, educator, author, enlightener, and philosopher. He is a C-suite advisor and global keynote speaker. He brings a strategic eye and long-range vision, given his multifaceted professional experience that includes military, teaching, training, research, consultancy, and philosophy. He is passionate about serving and making a difference in the lives of others. He trains a new generation of leaders through leadership education and publications. His vision is to build one million students as global leaders by 2030 ( He advocates gender equality globally (#HeForShe). He invests his time in authoring books and blogging on executive education, learning, and leadership. Most of his work is available free of charge on his four blogs, including He is a prolific author and a dynamic, energetic, and inspirational leadership speaker. He can be reached at