Action Filter

Reactive Action Filter – Action Without Reflection

The reactive action filter combines action with non reflection or internal dialogue. At its best, this is ideal in sports and performances, as well as emergencies where instincts are needed. They take initiative, and are willing to jump in and have a go, without the need to analyze it to death first. They see what they want and go for it.

reactive action filter diagram

As children, we are usually like this. We don’t consider consequences or complications, just get in and have fun. There seems to be no filter on our actions. The sight of a puddle or the sound of the ice cream truck activates our motor system. We want to do it or have it NOW!


Of course, not considering consequences can get you into big trouble. As we mature, we develop the ability to look before we leap for good reason.

Someone stuck in this pattern can interpret everything as an emergency. There can be an inability to step back and prevent the situation happening again. They seem unable to take the time to analyze feedback.

Consider the classic firefighting story – you put out a dozen fires a day, jumping and responding quickly and efficiently. You are so busy you don’t notice that someone is wandering around with matches starting new fires.

Many investors in the current stock market melt down felt compelled to take action and dump long-term investments. Doing something, anything, felt comforting even if it made things worse. These people change strategies at the first sign of trouble.

This pattern can come across as impatience and an inability to sit still. This is bad for relationships and stress levels. Have you ever had someone push or bully you because he wants it now? Doesn’t work for me, how about you?

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Action Filter – Acting Intelligently
Reflective Action Filter – Reflecting without Acting
Proactive Action Filter – Action and Reflection
Reactive Action Filter – Action Without Reflection
Inactive Action Filter – the Non-Reflective Inactive Quadrant