There is a phrase popular amongst early stage startups meant to encourage faster problem solving; bias for action. It gained popularity as one of Amazon’s core principles.
Speed matters in business. Many decisions and actions are reversible and do not need extensive study. We value calculated risk taking.
Generally speaking this is a straight forward positive principle that individuals and organizations benefit from. It’s easy to become paralyzed by overthinking. The average person overweight risk and organizations are even more prone to this. Action is good when faced with external friction. And startups in particular can be killed by friction. I think a bias towards action is default good. I regularly use this methodology to make decisions for my life. In the face of uncertainty acting is often better than not.
But I’m learning that my tendency to “just do it” has some downsides. If I’m always trying to fit in more action, more decisions, more outcomes, then I can easily burn myself out. I can waste precious energy by always saying “yes” let’s do it. My enthusiasm can and does get the best of me. In other words, I’ve got a bias towards action that needs to be balanced out.
It’s hard for me to emotionally recognize that I need more of a bias against action. But I’m not saddled with the traditional issues that make a bias towards action necessary. I don’t struggle with willpower. I don’t struggle with meeting my commitments (short of being physically unable to work say 80 hour work weeks). Hell, I just decided on January first I would write something every day no matter what, and here I am almost halfway through my first year. When I commit to taking an action I generally mean it. Sometimes to my detriment given my workaholism.
So I’m reassessing when I personally need a bias towards action. Maybe I need to have a bias towards inaction so I do not let my enthusiasm for getting shit done set me back. I need to have a bias towards rest. I need to have a bias towards naps. I’d encourage you to ask yourself which side of the issue you come down on. Maybe it’s a bias towards action. That’s great! Do more and faster. But it’s also possible you are like me. Less can be more.