Bias for Action

Consuming without producing is like eating without exercising. You're going to get fat.

 

A bias for action helps to counteract this. When in doubt, create instead of consuming. This bias is important to avoid getting fat. Balancing your bias is just as important to ensure that you're not simply producing, but you're producing work that is your best.

Improved performance is about more than simply producing consistently, it's about producing high-quality output. To do this, create habits and an environment which allow novel and quality ideas to flourish. 

Sat in a lakeside cabin, Bill Gates would isolate himself for one week, twice per year. These were known as 'Think Weeks.' Gates would go to the cabin with the aim of doing nothing but reading and thinking big thoughts.

 

Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist and father of analytical psychology, had a similar habit. In 1923, Jung built a retreat in the town of Bollingen, Switzerland. The result was Bollingen Tower - a two-story stone house which Jung would escape to when doing his most important work. He kept the key with him at all times and nobody was allowed in without his permission. This is where Jung did the thinking which made him one of the most influential thinkers of the twentieth century.

To have unique and creative ideas on a subject, expertise is required. Gates was an expert on his work because he studied it intensely. He was constantly building and maintained a bias for action, but his ideas and work were fuelled by the deep knowledge he consistently accumulated. He ensured that his output was of the highest quality by knowing his subject better than anybody else.

 

Learn everything there is to learn about your subject. Something that seems insignificant may spark an idea. An essay which seems boring may have one sentence which leads to a breakthrough. The more you know about your subject, the easier it is to combine seemingly unrelated ideas and form unique and creative output. By diving deep and consistently learning, the quality of your output immediately improves.

To think better, seize moments of silence. By creating more time for silence, you create more time for insight, revelations and big ideas. Make time for creative thoughts. Step away from the comfort zone of overconsumption and the distractions that come with it. Start listening, and allow your mind to be overwhelmed by unique insights, revelations and ideas.

Gates and Jung were masters of this. In Gates' lakeside cabin and Jung's Bollingen Tower, there were no distractions. There was silence and space for thoughts and ideas to flow. These conditions lead to Microsoft becoming the most valuable company in the world and Jung revolutionising the field of psychiatry. Creating conditions like these may lead to the creative breakthrough you're craving.

As you dive deep and remain silent, maintain a bias for action. When seeking to become an expert on a subject, it's easy to consume information endlessly. There will always be another book to read or podcast to listen to. This is a dangerous trap.

 

Expertise does not require you to consume everything. It requires that your knowledge is continually expanding. More often than not, the best way to expand your knowledge is through creating content. As you create, you learn. Each piece of work that you produce takes you one step closer to being an expert.

 

Mindlessly consuming may help you learn about a subject, but it won't make you an expert. To be an expert, taking that knowledge and producing something of your own is required.

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