Jeff Bezos Thirst for This Question is Antithesis of Change.
Many times, the right question/thought is more important than answers to questions
Jeff Bezos said the following and I was blown away.
“I very frequently get the question: ‘What’s going to change in the next 10 years?’ And that is a very interesting question; it’s a very common one. I almost never get the question: ‘What’s not going to change in the next 10 years?’ And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two — because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time. … [I]n our retail business, we know that customers want low prices, and I know that’s going to be true 10 years from now. They want fast delivery; they want vast selection. It’s impossible to imagine a future 10 years from now where a customer comes up and says, ‘Jeff I love Amazon; I just wish the prices were a little higher,’ [or] ‘I love Amazon; I just wish you’d deliver a little more slowly.’ Impossible. And so the effort we put into those things, spinning those things up, we know the energy we put into it today will still be paying off dividends for our customers 10 years from now. When you have something that you know is true, even over the long term, you can afford to put a lot of energy into it.”
What is true for business is true for people as well. Here is a contrarian personal experience.
Many years ago, I was in my boss’s office for my annual review. He was very diplomatic and shared that he was happy with my work. When he asked me, “Do you have any questions?” By nature, I am big on adding the word self between the words –“constant improvement”. So, I replied — “Could you share with me some specific areas of improvement that can shape my personal growth?”
He leaned back in his chair, paused a moment and said — “That is a fair request, but first the low hanging fruit, are you aware of your strengths?” I said sure, and rattled off a few. He patiently listened and said- “those are some generic strengths, quite common among many folks. Do you know your strengths that naturally propel you?” I gave him a puzzled look.
In the next few minutes, he shared with me some of my nuanced strengths and backed it up with small detail examples where he noticed them. He felt that these strengths were natural for me but were rare, based on his observations of other people.
In this day and age, when people are more focused on holding to good employees, he let go of his positional power by sharing some of my best-kept secrets that I was unaware of until then and in the process gained relationship power. That conversation, impacted me profoundly — if a glass of water is a metaphor — I had been thirsty to figure out the empty part of my glass and here was an experience where I learnt more about the filled portion of the glass — that I had taken for granted.
What to change vs. what to double down?
Since that day, I have trained myself to look for specific examples that demonstrate natural strength of people that are uncommon. You will be surprised how much goodness you will observe. Sharing that back with them has been one of my most fulfilling endeavors in my life. I have observed people double down on their strengths to great effect.
Similarly, Jeff Bezos question of “no change” builds a fantastic foundation.
It’s intellectually interesting to explore potential 10 year changes. Likewise, differences are easy to spot- human eye is trained to look for areas of improvement in others.
Let us double down on the opposites.
What’s NOT going to change in the next 10 years?
And let us take the time to train ourselves to spot people’s inherent treasures — treasures that are so good they do not even realize their own God-given gift, which is rare in the general populace.
Let the world bloom.