Overcoming Bias

by Daniel · 0 comments

Growing up, I started developing confidence in what I felt. My parents helped me to believe in myself. I wasn’t the best looking guy, I wasn’t the best athlete in the world, but they made me feel good about myself.  – Herschel Walker

Growing up Herschel was a chubby kid with a speech impediment a “stuttering problem” in his words.  He was an isolator and had no friends, in fact at one point in grade school he was beaten up. One day Herschel made a decision to never allow himself to be hurt again.  He started by doing pushups and sit-ups on a daily basis. 5,000 of each to be exact! Herschel has never taken a drug, drank a drop of alcohol or lifted weights. He has a strong belief in God, Family and a focus on success like no one else!  

When Herschel was approaching college age his football skills had him being recruited by major colleges.  However, Herschel was conflicted, not about what college to go to but if he wanted to even attend college.  He was considering enlisting in the Armed Forces. There was enormous pressure on him. His mother was his confidante; however, she would only lead him and not tell him what to do or decide for him.  

Eventually, Herschel committed to the University of Georgia by picking out of a hat.  On the day of mandatory reporting for school and football camp, Herschel arrived early, like 14 or 15 hours early, he thought he needed to arrive by 5 am but it was 5 pm!  When other students arrived one upperclassman threw his car keys at Herschel and told him to bring in his bags, then wash his car… Herschel kept his mouth shut and simply did what he was told.

That evening at the first football team meeting the upperclassman took Herschel on as his mentee.  He explained to Herschel that the team had agreed to give Herschel a very hard time because they believed that Herschel’s reluctance to sign at Georgia and late decision in signing his letter of intent had to do with Herschel thinking he was better than the other players!  Herschel went on to start as a freshman and set all-time rushing records at the school and nationally as well as winning the Heisman Trophy. All the while remaining humble and an excellent student.

I met Herschel at an event he was speaking at in Dallas Texas.  During the Q&A after his discussion a gentleman raised his hand and said, “Herschel, I was on the USA Bobsled team in the early 1990s.  I was one of the people that was cut from the team because of your fame and not your skill level.” Herschel smiled and responded, “It is funny you say that because the truth of the matter was the USA Olympic team asked me to work with them and to be quite honest, I did not like cold weather, and did not even know what bobsledding was, nor did I really have any interest.  However, as a competitor, I agreed to a visit. When I arrived at Lake Placid, your team and teammates treated me extremely poorly and disrespectful. That fueled me to try-out and kick butt because everything I do I win at!” The man was blown away and sat back down quietly. After the session, I saw the gentleman getting a picture with Herschel.

What is the Point?

We see the world from our own side of the street, we see the world with our own filters.  Our past experiences, childhood, morals, ethics, cultural influences and more determine how we see the world.  We judge ourselves on our intentions and judge others based upon what we believe the other person’s intentions are or were.  

How Do We Overcome Our Bias?

Do I want to be right or happy?  Be careful not to correlate right with happy because that is often the exception and not the rule.  Remember your “Ego” is not your “Amigo!” Developing the habit of utilizing the “I/E” (Intellect over Emotion) formula for success is essential in our quest to live in harmony within the world.   Self-evaluation and the use of a mentor or sponsor will help us stay on track and at the very least gain perspective or another view of any situation. Judgment is best left for those better equipped to judge.  Keep an open mind and challenge your bias. When you find yourself in judgment ask yourself, “is this true or is this my side of the street?” “How can this be perceived from another angle?” and finally, “is it ok to agree to disagree?”  

If we seek to understand rather than be understood we have a better shot at serenity, joy, and happiness.  If we are overly opinionated, believe our own press, or stubborn to the point we are always right or in control, we risk the opposite.  The great thing is we all have a choice!

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