A Bias for Action – Avoid the Only True Failure

Working at Amazon was one of the coolest opportunities I’ve ever had.  I was only there about two and a half years, but my professional growth during that time was astounding.  I learned more about leadership, humility, and even life there than any other experiences I’ve had in my adult life.  Looking back, I can attribute most of the growth towards Amazon’s leadership principles.  I jumped in head first abiding by those principles, and now that I’m 3 years removed from Amazon I’m still all the better for knowing them.  Some ideas are just too good to shake off or unlearn.

The usefulness of the principles comes in cycles.  Sometimes you’ll exemplify some of them and be weak in others.  As you work out your weaknesses, you’ll inevitably realize you’re failing at another one along the journey.  For me, I tend to cycle through the list about once a year, consciously or not, while working to be better personally and professionally.

This time around the principle is a “Bias for Action.”  Amazon defines it thusly:

Speed matters in business. Many decisions and actions are reversible and do not need extensive study. We value calculated risk taking.

If you read my post from yesterday, this likely rings a bit familiar.  I’ve struggled a lot recently with just doing what needs to be done.  Frequently I get caught up in the planning more than anything:

  • Do I need to get into the gym?  Well then I better make sure I have the right gym bag, the right shoes, the right headphones, good gym shorts, etc.
  • Is it time to hone my writing skills with a professional blog?  I better waste three weeks trying to find the proper domain name.  I better spend two weeks getting all of the ideas I want to write in order.  I better research other blogging tools and calendars, tinker with Calypso and Gutenberg to make writing easier, etc.

At some point, though, you just have to start.  You have to have that “Bias for Action.”  Take a calculated risk!  Creating the perfect plan in most cases is a likely waste, especially when the benefit of starting even if you fail is still a better reward than never starting at all.  We learn more from failing, anyway.

For me, going to the gym at all, even if underprepared, is better than not going.  Starting to write something, even if it ends up being garbage, gives me the practice to write that killer post down the road.

Don’t be afraid of failing…after all, the only way to truly fail is to never start.

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