(And Will Keep You From Giving Up on Your Dreams Too Soon)
Jeff Bezos knows how to make smart decisions. He knows how to hire the right people.
And he knows how to stay the course -- and stay true to a vision -- in spite of doubters, naysayers, and critics.
Here's an example: Referring to the Amazon Echo, Apple SVP of Worldwide Marketing Phillip Schiller once said, "There's many moments where a voice assistant is really beneficial, but that doesn't mean you'd never want a screen. So the idea of not having a screen, I don't think suits many situations."
Tens of millions of Echo devices in homes later... yep: Oops.
As Bezos said (as recounted in John Rossman's upcoming book, Think Like Amazon: 50 1/2 Ways to Become a Digital Leader):
To Bezos, critics of online reviews missed the point. Amazon's goal was to help customers make the best purchase decisions they possibly could; deliver that, and customer loyalty would skyrocket.
And as a result... Amazon would sell more things.
Input is Great... Until It's Not
Of course, seeking input is natural. We're taught to actively solicit opinions. We're taught to bounce ideas off others. We're taught to run ideas up proverbial flagpoles and harness the incredible power of a group to make great decisions.
Yet the main power wielded by group thinking is the power of the middle ground: Groups grind away clean edges and sharp corners. After all of the input and feedback and devil's advocacy, what remains is safe, secure...
If you want to be different -- if you want to achieve "different" -- you must be willing to accept criticism. To accept disapproval. To be questioned, to be doubted...
To be, as Bezos says (again from Think Like Amazon), misunderstood:
Of course, it's hard not to worry about what other people think. And much of the time you should worry about what other people think -- but not if it stands in the way of living the lives you really want to live.
That's when you must be willing to be misunderstood. If you decide to start a business (which you can do in less than half a day.) If you decide to adopt the one work/life balance that actually works. If you decide to consistently say the four most important words a leader can say.
Some people will question you. Some will doubt you. Some will think you're crazy.
They're not wrong. They just misunderstand.
And that's okay -- especially if you're living your life the way you want to live it.