Tag Archives: hard work

How to stay away from optimism bias

Optimism bias can be a good thing at times. You will tend to make more irrational and riskier decisions, because you will feel good about your chances for the outcome turning out in your favor. How can that be bad?

It can be bad when you are always running on optimism bias. Because, we know that life has it’s ups and downs. Not every decision we make is going to turn out in our favor. And if we continue to make decisions only thinking of the positive outcome, then we will inevitably begin to feel the wrath of those outcomes not in our favor.

There is a way to trigger optimism bias in most people. That’s with low sleep.

As soon as I heard that, I began thinking of those big time entrepreneurs who have taken incredible risks to get to where they are currently at. Then, I started to think about how most of them have admitted to sleeping very little in order to work longer hours. Think, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Arianna Huffington, Steve Jobs and Gary Vaynerchuk. The list is a lot longer than that.

So how much of their risky decision making is based off of their unique skills, and gut feelings? How much is simply due to the fact that they were running on low sleep (optimism bias)?

It’s a mind boggling idea to me.

Where does skill and talent come into play? Where do brain malfunctions (that’s essentially what it is) come into play?

A lot of the big name entrepreneurs are recommending, the younger crowd, to value sleep much much higher, but that’s not what they did to reach their own successes. And, apparently, low sleep could have been a major contributing part of their successes.

What do we make of this? It’s hard to say, but at least we can be aware of the entire situation and try to make the best decision possible. You can watch a TED talk on optimism bias here.

The little things are the big things

A few days ago I was watching a great NBA game between the Cleveland Cavaliers & San Antonio Spurs. It was a simple regular season game with no major implications. This game stood out to me because of one particular play by LeBron James.

Kawhi Leonard, from the Spurs, was sprinting down the court for a seemingly easy layup. While the closest Cavaliers were already jogging, essentially giving Kawhi the easy layup opportunity, one player was still running full steam ahead. That of course was LeBron James, the best NBA player in the league right now. LeBron did catch up and prevented the easy layup from occurring. He blocked the shot! While most players would have laid back, and given up on the play, LeBron kept going.

One announcer made a comment that LeBron James gave an incredible amount of effort, for an unimportant two point play, in just one of the many regular season basketball games. The other announcer added by saying, ‘that’s what makes LeBron James the greatest in the league right now.’

That exact play is what led to the Cleveland Cavaliers winning the NBA Championship last season, in Game 7, in the final minutes. If you’re a basketball fan, then you remember the great play that LeBron James made in that game, of sprinting down the court to block the very important layup attempt of Andre Iguodala. It was a career defining play. Some are already saying that it will be the play that LeBron James will be forever remembered by.

That sprint down the court, & blocked shot, was only possible because LeBron had already practiced doing it countless times in many less important games.

(Additionally, those big-time game winners by Kobe Bryant were only possible because he had practiced them thousands of times alone in the gym.)

This reminded me of the great saying that the little things are the big things. If you never practice the little things, then how can you expect to be ready for those big critical moments? You can’t and you won’t be ready.

“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.” -John Wooden

&

“Enjoy the little things in life because one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.” -Kurt Vonnegut

On having a good night’s sleep

We all get the same amount of hours per day. You get 24 hours per day, your neighbor gets 24 hours per day and even Elon Musk. If we all get the same amount of time per day, how does one do more than his neighbor? The answer can come from either being more focused and productive, or it can come from working harder. Of course, doing both is possible for a select few.

If you want to achieve high levels of success in life, then you are going to have to work hard for it. Reading the biographies of Elon Musk, Stephen King, Sam Walton, Arianna Huffington and Bill Gates quickly makes you realize that it isn’t going to be easy. If you work the same amount of hours (the typical 8 per day) as your co-worker and neighbor, then don’t expect to get any further than them. You’re going to have to endure countless sleepless nights. That’s how you get ahead of the masses.

Recently, there has been a major movement promoting the idea of having a good night’s sleep. The movement is trying to undo the belief that sleeping few hours per night makes you cool. For the longest, sleeping a few hours per night has been a badge of honor. I’ve been hearing this a lot from successful people, such as Arianna Huffington and Ryan Holiday. I know they mean well, and I know what they are promoting is good for our health. Here is my problem though.

Would they be where they are today, if they had slept the recommended 7 to 9 hours per night while they were young and ambitious? Would Arianna Huffington and Ryan Holiday be at the height that they now enjoy if they had slept 8 hours per night while establishing themselves? I don’t think so, and I don’t think they would believe that either. The problem is that successful people are giving the ‘sleep more’ advice to unsuccessful people. While they are doing a good deed, unsuccessful people might end up getting screwed if they take their advice word for word.

You should have a good night’s sleep, but if you are young and ambitious maybe you should hold off on that. Follow their actions, not their words. Elon Musk and Stephen King busted their asses off to get to where they are today. If they would have slept 8 hours per night they might have never done anything. How would Stephen King have written a book after work, while caring for a family, and still sleep 8 hours per night? It would have been very unlikely, if not impossible. Stephen King wrote those books on little to no sleep and that is why he is the prolific author and writer that we know today. Same goes for Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Sam Walton and Gary Vaynerchuk.

Having a good night’s sleep is great advice, but if you want to be successful hold off on that for now. You need to work hard and do more while you still can. Take advantage of your youth, because it will soon be gone.

The common advice is to relax

Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of interviews (while on the way to work or when eating lunch) of successful entrepreneurs and creatives. Inevitably, the interviewer asks the interviewee what advice he/ she would give their twenty year old self or thirty year old self. Keep in mind that the interviewee is successful and has built a great brand and company already. Also, in most cases these successful people are in their forties or fifties.

In order to get to where they currently are, they had to work their a$$es off during their twenties and thirties. They didn’t take any breaks or spend tons of time socializing and enjoying life. For the most part they were grinding and putting in the heavy hours while they were still young.

The thing that strikes me odd is that most of these people say that they would tell their younger selves to relax. The advice that they would give their younger selves would be to relax. It seems reasonable, because they clearly know the kind of hard work they had to endure during those years of building. At the same time the advice seems poor because if they did relax they probably wouldn’t be anywhere near their current level of success. They would just be a regular average Joe or Jane. Their hard work and focus is what got them to their current position. If they had chosen to relax, instead of working long hours, surely they wouldn’t be getting interviewed on a successful podcast today!

I wish the interviewer would follow up the answer with a secondary question of, ‘where do you think you would be today, if you did relax in your twenties and thirties?’ After thinking about it further, I’m willing to bet, that relaxing is not the common advice that they would want to give themselves.