A SURVIVAL MECHANISM

So, you’ve done it, you’ve booked the experience of a life-time and you’re stood attached to the lanyard that automatically pulls your chute, you’re about to do your very first parachute jump. You shuffle forward, the door opens, the sound of the rushing air and aircraft engines fade away to silence, you look down to the toy sized people and cars below.

And freeze!

The psychological term for what you’re experiencing is ‘preparedness‘. Its an in-built survival mechanism, its an in-built response that allows us to weigh-up the options and make the call on what we actually want to do. If we’re good at evaluating the risk then we survive, if too good at evaluating the risk then we do nothing!

Whatever we do, (it doesn’t have to be anything as dramatic as a parachute jump) we take time to weigh-up the options from choosing to eat, to making a phone call, to sending an email to buying a house… We have a few milliseconds to make a choice on what to do. These are the points in time when we pivot especially when the outcome is critical.

There is a way of managing this process of deciding what to do when the outcome is critical to our perceived long-term success. Its an essential behavior to be adopted if you really want things to really happen.

You have to switch from thinking to doing, whenever you’re thinking of doing something – do it straight away. Not later, or tomorrow, or next week because tomorrow will never arrive. Do it Now, Act Now – you have to develop a, as Tom Peters has said often “a bias for action“.

Instead of looking for reasons not to do something, get on with it and do it. Stop hanging around thinking about it, the ‘should I, shouldn’t I?’ questions spinning around your head are getting in the way of action.

Don’t get me wrong here the more you do, the more mistakes you’re going to make. And the more mistakes the more you learn and so the greater the chance of you getting it right.

“The dog that trots around gets the bone” Golda Meir

ACTION BEATS WORDS

I’ve been in many meetings where there’s a tendency to ‘over-value’ the thinking and talking process’. In other words the thinking about action is seen as more important than the actual doing action.

This doesn’t have be the way things are, you can choose to do something. And starting by choosing to do what you want to do is a no more perfect way of adopting the bias for action principle. Choose to do the things that you believe represent success to you. You are your own CEO, Boss, or whatever you want to call yourself. You are going to do the thinking, the talking and the doing. You’re not going to try to look clever and get others to do things for you, you’re going to be the one who does stuff.

Be cautioned tho, this is a skill to be developed and from time to time you may fail to practice the skill effectively. You’re not lazy, or afraid or non-committed, you just failed to practice the skill. But like all skills with practice it will get easier, it will become more natural and eventually you’ll do it without even thinking anymore.

THE CAVEAT

It remains important to prepare for any significant decision or task, especially where the outcome could be life-altering. You just wouldn’t jump out of the aircraft without first checking the parachute is safe for use! Being prepared means setting things up, if you’re unsure of how to actually do something then start out by working out how you’re going to get the information and knowledge, then acquire the information and knowledge. That is being prepared. Check the chute, and when you know its safe make the jump.

If what you’re read is in some way helpful and you’d like to know more about how have a mind-set with a bias for action then you can reach out to info@isosyst.co.uk with you inquiry.

PHILIP DAWSON MBA – ORGANISATIONAL CONSULTANT – 2019-12-10

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