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  • Writer's pictureRyan Luby

The Belief Loop

It isn’t to say that your end goal should be to ignore all information and experience.

But talking about something, ruminating about something, even learning about something is not the same as taking action.

Too many times we will not even attempt to do something because we don’t believe we can give or achieve 100% of our goal.

So instead we will talk about it, delay, say we need more time, say we are too busy, or my personal favorite which I use all the time.. assure ourselves we need to learn more, we need more information before taking action. Which is why I am constantly reminded of a great quote from Derek Sivers founder or CD baby, “If more information was the answer we would all be rockstar billionaires with perfect abs.”… his point? Action is what separates you from the wildly successful version of yourself.

You could boil it down to analysis paralysis which I explained in my post Analysis paralysis, and I broke down how to take practical steps to overcome it.

This post is more about clarifying the truth that your excuse, even if it is needing to learn more.. isn’t important, and likely isn’t true.

Adam Robinson often tells top hedge fund CEO’s about an interesting study, when he sees they are becoming to reliant on data, numbers, and over-analysis.

Here is Adam explaining the study, taken from the blog of Matt Mullenweg.

In 1974, Paul Slovic — a world-class psychologist, and a peer of Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman — decided to evaluate the effect of information on decision-making. This study should be taught at every business school in the country. Slovic gathered eight professional horse handicappers and announced, “I want to see how well you predict the winners of horse races.” Now, these handicappers were all seasoned professionals who made their livings solely on their gambling skills.

Slovic told them the test would consist of predicting 40 horse races in four consecutive rounds. In the first round, each gambler would be given the five pieces of information he wanted on each horse, which would vary from handicapper to handicapper. One handicapper might want the years of experience the jockey had as one of his top five variables, while another might not care about that at all but want the fastest speed any given horse had achieved in the past year, or whatever.

Finally, in addition to asking the handicappers to predict the winner of each race, he asked each one also to state how confident he was in his prediction. Now, as it turns out, there were an average of ten horses in each race, so we would expect by blind chance — random guessing — each handicapper would be right 10 percent of the time, and that their confidence with a blind guess to be 10 percent.

So in round one, with just five pieces of information, the handicappers were 17 percent accurate, which is pretty good, 70 percent better than the 10 percent chance they started with when given zero pieces of information. And interestingly, their confidence was 19 percent — almost exactly as confident as they should have been. They were 17 percent accurate and 19 percent confident in their predictions.

In round two, they were given ten pieces of information. In round three, 20 pieces of information. And in the fourth and final round, 40 pieces of information. That’s a whole lot more than the five pieces of information they started with. Surprisingly, their accuracy had flatlined at 17 percent; they were no more accurate with the additional 35 pieces of information. Unfortunately, their confidence nearly doubled — to 34 percent! So the additional information made them no more accurate but a whole lot more confident. Which would have led them to increase the size of their bets and lose money as a result.

Beyond a certain minimum amount, additional information only feeds — leaving aside the considerable cost of and delay occasioned in acquiring it — what psychologists call “confirmation bias.” The information we gain that conflicts with our original assessment or conclusion, we conveniently ignore or dismiss, while the information that confirms our original decision makes us increasingly certain that our conclusion was correct.”

This points out two major keys.

One, again.. more information is not always the answer. Sometime you need to be confident in the information and experience you have and take action to move forward.

So take action, even when you feel you are not ready. If you are open and willing to learn you will figure it out on the fly. More information is not the answer, it might reduce mistakes, but mistakes are lessons anyway so why rob yourself of the opportunity to learn.

Just take action.

Two, more information not only has a point of diminishing return, but once it reaches that point more information begins to negatively affect you depending upon your original beliefs.

See this cycle which I stole from Tony Robbins. This beautifully explains how we work, and how confirmation bias can either help or hurt us going forward.

Ultimately, your beliefs are what make up your potential. That’s just the way things work. How come for hundreds of years no one ever completed the four minute mile… until 1954 when Roger Banister did it. Then… people believed it was possible, and dozens of people followed soon after also running four minute miles. Or in the world of rock climbing is another perfect example. Parts of the world never get climbed in the past like El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Then someone first climbed it taking them roughly a year.. within a few years the second person climbed it in a week, and now Alex Honnold became the first person to ever free solo (without any ropes) climb El Capitan. Their potential was molded by their beliefs, once your beliefs change, so does your potential.

Then the next phase. Once your potential is set, this will ultimately determine the amount of action you will take. Again see the 4 minute mile, or any major climbing feat. These people only took action once their belief shifted, their potential increased, and then they took action.

Since your potential determines the amount of action you take, the amount of action you take directly affects the results you get.

Finally, the results you get will alter or re-instill your beliefs.

For example, If you get a job as a salesman but don’t believe your confident and hate the job.. this shows your beliefs.

If you aren’t confident, how high do you think your potential is?

Then since your lack of confidence, lowered your potential, you take little action.

You might knock on doors and just run away…

or when someone does open the door you stand with slumped shoulders, your head down, and say “ You wouldn’t want to buy anything, right?”

Any predictions on this person’s results??

They get terrible results, and then what?

They say, “See, I knew I couldn’t do it anyway.” This is confirmation bias at its worst.

This is incredibly common. It might not be so egregious to you at first but pay attention, you’ll see this pattern in people and in yourself. It’s not just about sports or business, or work, this cycle affects us in everything we do. It affects your health, mental health, your relationships.. everything.

If you don’t believe you can be a good parent, what do you think your chances are?

If you don’t believe you’re smart, you’re probably going to be right.

You set your own beliefs, and your potential. So learn to identify what beliefs determined your past results.

And most importantly change the cycle at will.

If you notice your beliefs are low, change them before moving forward again.

Don’t let your low beliefs limit your potential.

This brings back the lack of information excuse. That’s a belief, and ultimately a belief that limits potential, determines less action, and encourages poor results.

But confidence, high energy, passion, and being open will all raise your beliefs massively in anything you do.

Which of course increases your potential,

Inspires massive action,

And ultimately allows you to achieve the results you needed.

Learn more on this:

Article: Tony Robbins belief cycle in business

Blog/ Podcast: Derek Sivers with Tim Ferriss

Video: Tony Robbins belief cycle explained

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