The Surprising Key to Your Success? Become Biased.

A few years ago, I put together an advanced time management program entitled, Focus Mastery. It was aimed at business leaders and was the end result of a multi-year study into the habits, behaviors, and mentalities of the world's greatest achievers. One of the most surprising findings to emerge from that study was that phenomenally successful people are overwhelmingly biased. What does that mean? Well, the type of bias we are talking about here has nothing to do with making hasty assumptions, acting prejudiced, or embracing ignorance; rather, it's an inclination isolated to a very specific life area. It's a mental tendency to do, rather than ponder. It's what psychologists call, "a bias for action".

"Fortune favors the bold."--Cicero

It appears that one of the key differences in the mindset of outstanding achievers is that they are often much quicker to move from the "assessment" phase of a situation to the "solution" phase. Unlike most people, they do not dwell or ruminate too long on a problem, but instead move as quickly as possible into taking the external action steps necessary to achieve their objectives. Furthermore, this tendency to act is a strongly-ingrained habit.

To outside observers, the person with a bias for action can appear foolhardy as they plow ahead at top speed and engage in seemingly risky behaviors. Or they may even come off as presumptuous and impulsive as they take on challenges that are clearly beyond their 'pay grade'. But these impressions may be misleading. In reality, the person with a highly-developed bias for action has usually discovered through life experience to trust their own instincts, that they have a greater ability to learn and adapt and consolidate gains as they move along the path to their goals. It also appears that they have internalized the belief that when it comes to overcoming obstacles, speed increases cutting power, so if you wish to transcend challenges, then many times the best way to do so is to move quickly and decisively.

Obviously, there are many times in life where an extreme bias for action would be more likely to do us harm than good. For example, in many social interactions where an investment of time is important and sensitivities are high, you would not necessarily want to always move forward at full-sail. In those kinds of circumstances, effectiveness may be a justifiably higher value than efficiency. But in many, if not most, other areas of life, having a bias for action can be an enormous advantage. This is because it naturally tends to increase your resilience while at the same time shortens your learning curve. There is no better teacher than real-world experience and having a bias for action puts you in front of that teacher on a much more consistent and impactful basis.