Having a bias for action

The most flattering thing ever said to me is that I “not only talk the talk, but I also walk the talk.” I couldn’t make such sense of it at first, but over time I saw what people meant.

Whenever I come across something I like, or develop a new idea that get excited about, I just go and do it. If I really want it, I don’t let anyone or anything come in between. There are no excuses that hold me back or obstacles that deter me from pursuing what I set my mind on. In fact, I can’t think of anything in my life that I really wanted to do, but didn’t go out and do. Not saying I always succeeded, but I tried.

I live my life with a strong bias for action, and in the following I hope to encourage you to do the same. 

What do I mean with having a bias for action? 

It means that you – shocker – actually go and do what you feel you want to do. That if a crazy idea comes across your mind, you don’t fall into “let me come up with 193 reasons why this is not going to work” mode, but you go and make it work.

At the very least you give it a shot. And even if it doesn’t work out, you feel shitload of pride for having given it a shot, but above it all, you proved to yourself, and to the world, that the ideas that cross your mind, don’t just end up in a graveyard of ideas that never find fruition. 

So what’s keeping us from having a bias for action in our lives? Society does. 

The other day I came across the example of Huntington Hartford, who had inherited a fortune of $90M and spent $80 of that "chasing his dreams in the Bahamas.” He then passed away in 2008 at the age of 97. Yet instead of celebrating the fact that he spent his fortunate on pursuing his dreams, outlets like the NYTimes portrayed his life as a failure.

The way how his life was reported on is telling of how society expects us to behave. Our character is more often measured in our net worth than in our actions. Life is often deemed successful when we have more at the end than what we started with, not on basis of how much we explored, experienced, or put into action. As a recent HBR article pointed out: "We say “you can’t take it with you” but we be­have and judge as though you can."

This is the culture we live in, one that puts safety ahead of satisfaction. One that emphasizes the have to over the want to. One in which we are perpetually subjected to expectations. Expectations that suffocate our creative ideas and dreams, and that burry them underneath all the musts and have dos – societal expectations of what is the "right thing to do." 

What else is keeping us from doing what we want? Ourselves. 

We are probably our biggest enemy when it comes to living out our dreams and living with a bias for action. So many things we want to do, and so many more excuses we find not to do it. 

I have never done this before, I don’t have time, I don’t know the right people, what if I screw up, English isn’t my first language, oh, I just do it later. If there is one thing we are all really good at, it’s finding reasons to say no. 

Yet turns out life doesn’t get easier as we get older. Things get more complicated, our responsibilities pile up, and as we build families, we will have less and less time for ourselves. The sooner we start taking action on what matters to us, the more satisfaction will we achieve in our lives. 

Don’t let your fears and excuses prevent you from taking actions on the things you want to do now. Don’t spend your life making decisions, take actions. There is no better time to do it than now. Some of us spend their lives making up their minds, and then we die with songs unsung. The music is in us, but we don’t let it out.