In business and in life, I've always trusted my gut. And it has a damn good track record--my instincts have never led me down the wrong path or cost me big money.

I recently explained this to Jack Easdale, the brains behind a billion-dollar hotel operation on the Vegas Strip. Let's just say he was unimpressed. Gut instinct is for suckers, he claims, because we live in the era of data. Jack can't afford to make mistakes in his business--it could cost his company millions. So, instead of winging it, he tests every theory against the data available to him. It's art meets science.

Jack is all about critical thinking and challenging paradigms. "It's dangerous to believe in the status quo," Jack says. "Two of the worst things you can accept are 'That's the way we've always done it' and 'That's just the way things are.'"

I wanted to know how Jack takes thousands of bits of data and crunches them down to make smart decisions for success--and how the rest of us can learn from him. His key recommendations:

· Cast a wide data net. You don't have to reinvent the wheel--the internet is an amazing resource.

· Then strain it. Before you accept what you find, check on the accuracy of the data and its source. Opinions and popular belief from social media aren't valid forms of data. You want solid facts from trusted, verifiable sources.

· Separate facts from assumptions. Assumptions are deadly in business and in all walks of life. Ask "why is this the way it is?" and "why was it done this way in the first place?" What might have worked in the past may not work now.

· Make a to-don't list. It's a cliché because it's true: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. Beware of what hasn't worked.

· Relax. You'll come up with a stronger strategy if you're willing to be patient and keep digging for facts until you have a full picture.

I know that gathering data isn't sexy, but using it to support an active lifestyle and quest for success can yield some pretty amazing results. As Jack says, "it's easier to make a change if you've got the data." Discipline, focus, and looking at data make a huge difference in business and in life.

So how can you apply this to your everyday life? Gather data on how you spend your day. Be brutally honest with yourself. How many hours do you spend watching TV, scrolling through social media, sitting in meetings, driving, being active, spending time with family?

Too often the details about your day become a huge blob in your mind. I want you to break it down. And once you do, you'll find surprising places where you can go for a run, put in a couple of hours into your dream project, or play with your kids. Structure brings freedom to do more.

Are you in?

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