The flags on the dock are blowing sideways as a strong wind pushes the waves into whitecaps. The birds overhead are doing acrobatics with the wind, diving in for fish and hovering in place. Schools of fish are scurrying to avoid becoming bird food. It’s wonderful to wake up to a flurry of activity.

Going Deep

One of the joys of my life is having deep conversations with friends, especially smart ones. Over the past five years I’ve become close to a doctor I was going to who is one of the smartest and most tuned-in people I know. Not just tuned in to medicine, but tuned into the latest research and trends, and also very aware of trends in business and in marketing. We’ve had some amazing conversations over the years. This week he and his wonderful family visited us for a couple of days and we had the opportunity to sit up late at night to pontificate about all of our interests.

A Shocking Moment

During our conversation, I was talking about some of the frustrations or roadblocks I experienced in my business. Then he asked me a very point-blank question: “What is the very best way to grow a business fast?” I paused, pondered it for a moment, and gave him my answer. In fact, I was emphatic about my answer being the only way.

A moment later he chuckled and said, “The only way? You are dead wrong. In fact, there is current research about that topic, and you’re not only wrong about it being the top way to grow a business, the way you’re suggesting isn’t even on the radar of top businesses. You have a major blind spot — a bias.”

Though it was all light and fun, it was one of those moments of clarity when I had to realize and admit he was right. I do have a bias about the way certain things are done. Though I had considered the thing he suggested, I had no idea it was proven to be more important than what I was suggesting.

My friend had called me out. Not to be critical, but as good friends do, to point out that my bias was blinding me, and probably impacting my results.

I was flabbergasted. 

Discovering My Bias

I would never have considered that I had a bias. Yet the more I pondered the idea over the following days, the more excited I became, realizing that there was something new to me, something I was not doing that could make a major difference in the growth of my business. And because he opened a new door in my mind, I started asking myself about other things I thought of in only one way, realizing that I had biases in other areas of my thinking.

Finding out was exhilarating and brings me new hope.

Stuck in Our Ways

Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve done something the same way for so long, you’re shocked when you learn there is a new and different way you had never considered? I love to see people light up when I point out things their smartphone will do that they have been doing wrong for years. One time someone pointed out the little arrow on the gas gauge of my car, which is an indicator of which side the tank fill is on. I’d been driving for four decades before someone pointed it out. How had I not seen it all these years?

Meaningless Routines

We all have a bias about the way we think, the ways we do certain things, and we run on autopilot more than we would like to admit. I pretty much showed up at the office and followed my routine the same way every single day … that is, until a book I just read pointed out that there is a better way. At first I resisted it, but then after some thought, it was a game-changer.

I don’t know how to discover my own bias. I think we’re all blind to them. But the first part of discovery is about realizing they exist, examining everything you do, and asking, “Why do I do it this way?” I have routines I started 30 years ago that I do the same way.

Brain Games

A great way to challenge your brain is to force yourself to do things differently. For instance, I realized that I have a pattern that the washcloth follows every day in the shower. So I switched hands, which was very uncomfortable and almost overwhelming to my brain. Try brushing your teeth with the opposite hand. Close your eyes and walk backwards, or sideways. These little brain games can be invigorating, but also help rewire your brain to try new things differently.

Break habits. Go to a different grocery store. Visit different restaurants. Don’t order the same things in the places you always go. Don’t go home the same way, try new roads. Try to write or comb your hair with your opposite hand. Stimulate your brain.

I learned a good lesson this week. Surround yourself with people who are willing to challenge your assumptions. 

Runner No More

I was telling my doctor friend that the Mayo Clinic told me 25 years ago that I had to stop running because the pounding was pressuring a nerve, and if I continued, I’d be paralyzed for life. My friend pointed out that they used to believe that, and that the science has since proven that not to be true. Yet I held on to that assumption and advice for over two decades, when I could have revisited the assumption just a few years later and discovered I could be a runner again. I’m more than a little irritated with myself for not revisiting this.

Avoid Eggs!!

What are you not doing today because someone told you it was a bad idea? Remember it used to be a bad idea to eat eggs and fat? And now science has proven that it’s healthy. That’s why it’s important to read and be willing to accept what you know to be true. My doctor friend told me that almost 100% of the things doctors believed 30 years ago have since turned out to be wrong. Who knew?

I’m a little embarrassed about how stuck I’ve been. But it’s a good reminder to listen to others, read like a madman, and check all assumptions at the door and keep an open mind to new possibilities.

What is your bias? 

What are you still believing?

What do you do because of something that was told to you decades ago? Has it changed? 

Dig deeply and you’ll find a bucket full of bias you did not know you have. I know I did.

Eric Rhoads

PS: An artist friend of mine said “never” when I asked if he had ever done plein air painting (painting outside in nature). In fact, he reacted violently: “Why would I ever do that? There are bugs, the light is always changing, and you have to deal with the mud and the rain.” He had a bias about something he had never done. I urged him to try it and he said no several times, but finally I convinced him to go out and paint with me. “This has been the best painting day of my life! Why didn’t you make me go out sooner?” SInce then he has become addicted and it’s his preferred way to paint. His bias got in the way.

For those who want to learn plein air painting, I highly recommend it, because you get to be outside, and you get to see light, shadow, color, and form in ways you can’t see painting from photos. And it’s very social, and it’s fun to travel the world painting with friends (I’m going to Japan soon with friends to paint cherry blossoms).

You might like my online event called PleinAir Live, coming up March 6-8. If you get your seats reserved before midnight tonight, you’ll beat the price increase. Sign up today. It’s 100% guaranteed. If you watch the first day and think, “It’s not for me,” I’ll refund all of your money. Register at Especially if you can’t make it to the Plein Air Convention this year!