A Strong Bias Towards Action

A few days ago we aired a rerun of our interview with FBI Hostage negotiator Chris Voss. When he went to one of his superiors and expressed his interest in becoming a hostage negotiator, she told him to volunteer for a suicide hotline. So, he did. She was shocked because nobody before had followed through on her advice.

Sometime last year, I got an email from a college student asking if I could be a mentor. I explained that I didn't have time to do any unpaid work. But I suggested an alternative.

"Find a student organization that has a budget and see if you could bring me in as a speaker. If you can do that, I'll mentor you for the whole year"

I never heard from this student again. Mentoring this person at no cost would have been a waste of both his and my time because there was no skin in the game and no bias towards action. Even if he'd made the effort without succeeding, I might have considered mentoring. A bias towards action doesn't require gargantuan or death-defying risk. It's doing little things repeatedly that lead to the big changes in our lives.

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