Bias for action.

I believe it’s Amazon that asks for a “strong bias for action” from its people. While I’m no fan of Amazon and their (exploitative) labour practices, this idea has stuck with me, because I feel like it succinctly summarises one of my key personality traits. ‘Bias for action’ is better than ‘sucker for closure‘, no? 🙂

I’m just kidding. Bias for action is a lot more than that. It is about making things happen. It’s about moving forward, especially in ambiguity. It is about being decisive when you have no energy for the consequences. Being a freelancer / entrepreneur means being exactly that person.

I’m not saying you have to decide on everything immediately or keep acting on things all the time. What I’m saying is that, to be successful as a freelancer, you need a bias for action:

An instinct which makes sure that, when you have a choice between taking imperfect action and procrastination, you’re always leaning towards the former.

How to develop this? Hmm. That’s a good question. I’ve been thinking about how I did. Here are some things that come to mind, though I’m not sure they happened in such an organised way.

  • Ever since I was a child, I’d come to believe that I have to take care of myself and no one else will. It helped.

  • I hate the burden of a list of things undone. I sometimes feel physical pain looking at my to-do list. So, I obsessively clear them out.

  • As a business owner, I’m always thinking about the ‘cost’ of things. The cost of not taking action is often reputation, future possibilities, potential references etc.

  • One of my first clients was someone who wasted everyone’s time by wanting to keep thinking about things — forever. He stood in his own way and I learned a lot about what not to do from him.

  • Five years of time-tracking taught me a thing or two about how long a task takes. When I plan my day, I make time accordingly.

  • Oh, I hate it when I’ve been so late that someone has to follow up with me. Been happening a lot since lockdown and I bloody hate myself for it.

In essence, I think a bias for action comes from taking ownership of the task, and responsibility for consequences. Once you’ve gotten ready to do these two things, you’ll have the assurance you need to get things done!