Tag Archives: success

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.

What real confidence is

Today, Rohan from A Learning A Day had a great post on what confidence actually sounds like. I never really heard it explained this way and too often I find myself thinking that confidence has to be exaggerated if it’s there inside you. For some reason I thought it had to be loud and proud.

Rohan’s post got me thinking that maybe that’s not exactly the case. Confidence can also be that small voice that allows you to experiment while accepting the possibility that things might not go according to your plans. If things don’t work out as you had hoped, you won’t crumble into pieces. Instead, you will non-dramatically look ahead to the next opportunity or goal.

Here it is:

The voice of confidence is different from what many people imagine.

Before you do something
What people imagine: This is going to be AWESOME. I am going to be the best.

The real voice of confidence: This might not work… and that’s okay.

When things don’t work out
What people imagine: This sucks. All my plans are not working. Do I suck? No, it is due to all those idiots around me.

The real voice: We learnt something. We’ll try again tomorrow.

When things do work out
What people imagine: I am so good. So so good.

The real voice: We learnt something and it is great that this worked. Let’s try the next thing tomorrow.

The voice of confidence isn’t loud and doesn’t appear strong. It almost appears to quiver at times with vulnerability and is generally soft.

But, let’s not mix volume and clarity.

PS: If you are wondering, confidence and courage are like twin siblings. You could substitute one for the other in this post and it’d still be true.

How to get rich

Felix Dennis wrote a great book titled How to Get Rich. In it he lays down the necessary steps to becoming rich and the pitfalls to watch out for. It’s a good read with very little fluff. I felt as if Felix was laying out the rules cut and dry. He wasn’t trying to make the process sound easy or nice, he was just telling the reality of what it takes to get rich.

Check out The Upside-Down Pyramid For Getting Rich:

1. Commit or don’t commit. No half-measures.

2. Cut loose from all negative influences.

3. Choose the right mountain.

4. Fear nothing.

5. Start now.

6. Go!

Pretty cool, right? One of my favorite paragraphs in the book is the one that follows.

“If you are young and reading this then I ask you to remember just this: you are richer than anyone older than you, and far richer than those who are much older. What you choose to do with the time that stretches out before you is entirely a matter for you. But do not say you started the journey poor. If you are young, you are infinitely richer than I can ever be again.” -Felix Dennis 

If you want to get rich, it will take a lot of hard work, sacrifices and action. Felix also makes you dwell on the reasons why you want to get rich. He knows that it takes so much out of you and that the chances of you succeeding are very slim. He really emphasizes thinking about what you believe will be gained by becoming rich.

Happiness? Freedom? Things like this can be had with a regular job. Felix warns that you don’t have to sacrifice your youth, to becoming rich, if your ultimate goal is happiness. Think long and hard about it because it definitely won’t be easy, according to Felix.

Passion is not the key to success

Up until this point I have been led to believe that passion is the key to success in any goal. It feels as if Ryan Holiday’s chapter on passion, in Ego is the Enemy, has disrupted my previously held beliefs. Like several feet of missing track would wreck havoc on a speeding train, Ryan’s opinions on passion have wrecked havoc on the advice of ‘follow your passion.’ So if passion is not the key, then what is?

Being humble, reason and deliberateness is the key to success in any goal. That’s the new translation for, ‘follow your passion.’

“In our endeavors, we will face complex problems, often in situations we’ve never faced before. Opportunities are not usually deep, virgin pools that require courage and boldness to dive into, but instead are obscured, dusted over, blocked by various forms of resistance. What is really called for in these circumstances is clarity, deliberateness, and methodological determination.” -Ryan Holiday

Like everything else in life there are two sides to every story. We are often told the story of the person who succeeds out of pure passion. But we are never told about the countless others, and far more, who have failed because of their passion. It is far more likely that you will succeed if you have reason and deliberateness on your side. If you want to give yourself the best chance of succeeding, recruit reason and purpose to your team.

“Passion is form over function. Purpose is function, function, function.” -Ryan Holiday

Whether you choose to believe in this new idea or not, it is safe to say that adding deliberate purpose to all your actions can’t hurt. It seems reasonable that having a definitive purpose helps. Put in the work and execute the plan to reach your goals. That seems like a more reasonable way to success than simply following your passion (which is a very vague phrase).

The problem that most people fall into is they think that passion is the sole key to success. Because of this belief, they ignore planning and reason. This is the mistake that often occurs. That’s the easy way out, because planning is difficult and time consuming. Planning takes effort and large amounts of focus. Planning adds a purpose to your daily actions. If you can formulate a deliberate plan, that will lead you to achieving your goals, then that will put the odds of succeeding in your favor. If you can put planning ahead of passion, in terms of importance, then that is a worthy plan for success.