Why some companies are more innovative than their competition in the same industry? Why somebody is able to achieve more than others, coming from a similar background? Why some leaders are able to inspire while others are not? Why some professionals produce better results than others when everyone is equally qualified in the organizational setup? These people not only know “what” they are doing, but also understand “why” they are doing. The clarity of the purpose in their endeavors makes them the outlier. They outperform their peers with a bias for action coupled with the strong sense of “why”.
You can talk about big ideas, strategies, and innovations, but if you don’t take action on those plans and ideas, you will make no progress at all. Your wait for the right time or the right opportunity before you can take action proves to be impediments in your progress. People tend to wait for the perfect time to start their businesses, courses, or certifications. Eventually, the right time never comes and they fail to take any actions whatsoever.
Bias for action refers to the mindset and practice of not just having an idea but also taking the right actions to work on those ideas. The greatest idea is after all just an idea. What makes a difference is taking actions to execute those ideas. Your idea continues to remain an idea and never turn into reality unless you choose to act upon the same. Your dream remains the distant reality unless you move to act. Being biased for action means proceeding to take action regardless of how you feel or prepared you are.
The wait for the right setup can be endless for any endeavors you plan. There are several real-life examples as to how people keep waiting endlessly and don’t take the necessary actions. For instance, you badly want to change your job, but you don’t appear for interviews when an opportunity knocks you. You think you are not prepared well. You let many interviews pass by in the preparation process.
You don’t take new projects believing your knowledge is not up to the mark as per the new requirements. You continue to work on the same project despite knowing there is not enough scope for growth. You don’t improve your skills and remain complacent in the current project. You don’t start the business, considering you don’t have the right skills set to start the business. You never take any action to improve entrepreneurial skills and simply believe that you are not made for business.
You don’t enroll for the certifications as you think you need more preparation. Likewise, you delay new assignments or postpone the client meetings thinking you are not well prepared to handle the situations yet. There are numerous examples like these when the right time for which you endlessly wait, rarely comes and makes no difference in your life. You are great in planning but sadly suck at the executions.
As it turns out, there is a common pattern in all the above examples. People are fearful of the outcomes and consequences. They anticipate the negative results well before they take even a single step. They declare themselves a failure in advance. They don’t give themselves a chance to face the failure and learn from it. Their fear of failure never lets them take any actions. As a result, their dreams remain a distant reality and their plans remain unfulfilled forever.
The key members of startups and board members spend a great deal of time in ideation, discussion, and strategic planning. These are great tools to take the organization’s vision forward. What is crucial is to build a great team that executes those strategies and turns the company visions into reality.
I have met several entrepreneurs who started their companies with zero experience and little investments. Their strong bias for action led them to start businesses without external supports. They learned intricacies of business along the way. Their strong sense of why and a bias for action got them several projects and scaled the organization going forward.
In contrast, some people have got all the money and resources, still, they don’t start work. They think too much before taking action. Their overthinking gets in their way of starting anything new. The over-analysis of the situation never gets them prepared.
Everybody loves ideas and strategies. People have a great vision for the future, they plan well, and they are strategic, but when it comes to execution they fail miserably. Your plans are a vicious cycle. You continue to make a plan, improvise upon plans and the same process keeps you occupied without making actual progress. People fail to realize that there is no end to perfection.
Bias for action is not only helpful to organizations but also plays a vital role at an individual level.
How to develop a bias for the action :
Jump without the parachute
You don’t need to be well prepared before you can take an action in life and career. Most times you learn along the way. When the accountability and expectations are on your head, you will be compelled to perform. You learn the most under pressure.
Get started before you overthink
Over-analysis of a situation leads to paralysis. Jump on the actions before your mind starts complicating the situations. There are various productivity hacks you can leverage to proceed with the action.
Ask the right questions
Reflect upon the reasons for your complacency and lack of results in your life. Your circumstances are mere excuses you give to yourself. Most times, the real culprit is the mindset that never lets you take the right action to progress in life. It’s nothing but your attitude that holds you back every time.
Break down the problems
Sometimes the bigger plans can be ambiguous and lead to procrastination. You can break down the bigger problems or plans into smaller actionable items and start working on the first item right away. This way you gradually progress towards your bigger goals.
Calculate the ETA
Setting the estimate for your goal is paramount to the accomplishments of goals. You can’t prepare for projects, assignments, or interviews endlessly. You have to set the target to achieve your plans within a stipulated time.
Your plans are impeccable, your ideas are great, yet you fail to proceed with actions. You wish to have wonderful outcomes in life, but don’t dare to take action to turn those dreams into reality. Without the bias for actions, your plans are nothing but the daydreaming. What holds you back is your anticipation of negative implications.
Why do you think you need to know everything before taking action? Why do you want to control all your circumstances so that you don’t fail? With the mindset where you need to know the outcomes of your actions beforehand, you will never be able to go the extra mile in life. Every big discovery, great innovations starts with the unknown. You have to deal with the unknown to discover what lies on the other side of your fear.
I have taken all opportunities of my life not knowing how to go about it. I have worked on many assignments not knowing in advance how to solve the task. When I got assignments, I worked hard to complete the task. I stretched myself and gave extra time on those items. I learned along the way as part of solving problems. I never said “no” to any opportunities that came my way. I only wanted to learn and grow and I was ready to face failure and rejection for the same.
In my Software Development career, I get assignments every day where I don’t know what it takes to perform my task. The tasks are mostly research-based where I have to figure out things and learn new concepts first before I can proceed with the tasks. The Software Development tasks are mostly cognitive with the elements of the unknown. The task grows me every day and keeps me out of my comfort zone. My day starts with saying “I don’t know this” to “Let me figure out” to keep going with my work.
Life is never certain in terms of outcomes, you need a leap of faith to continue working. Innovations are always based on trial & errors and keep trying even after repeated failure. Just think about how life would be if everything was predictable. There would be no surprises and excitement in living a life where everything was known in advance. Life is better with the element of unpredictability.
Bias for action boils down to mental habits and attitudes. You have to train your mind to be biased for action. When you start your day by doing some productive work in the early hours of your day, you will most likely end up doing other productive work for the rest of the day. Most times our brain tricks us not to start anything. We get overwhelmed with the amount or complexity of work.
Done is better than perfection. The endless improvement doesn’t let you proceed with the task. When you get an opportunity in life, and if you are not sure whether you are prepared for it, just say “yes” and accept that opportunity. You will learn everything about that opportunity once you jump on it. Taking action has to be always your priority. Your plans will remain merely a plan unless acted upon deliberately !!