Amazon has a concept called Day One. Jeff Bezos has written about Day One in detail in his letters to shareholders. His idea is that Amazon employees should always consider themselves as though working for the very first day of Amazon’s existence. This way no one takes Amazon’s success for granted, and everyone continues to work as doggedly as possible. No past successes will form a ceiling for future achievements.
This is a great philosophy for a company no doubt. But I can’t help but wonder if this is healthy when applied to our personal lives.
The person who couldn’t understand what “Adios amigos” meant in Spanish one year ago, is now able to converse well in the language after taking classes. But her thought? “I’m still so far away from attaining native fluency, I feel so stupid, and my progress is so slow.” The person who months ago only knew ABCDEFG as alphabets can now play “River Flows in You” on the piano. But his thought? “Damn those YouTube child prodigies – here I am at 45 struggling with sight reading, while my eyes can barely keep up with the speeds of their hands!” The person who couldn’t see his feet because his tummy got in the way, has now lost 30 kilos. But his thought? “My abs still are not visible – I hate my body, especially that stubborn lower belly fat.”
If any of the above seem familiar, that is because all too often, we are critical of ourselves beyond reason. We can then re-purpose Day One this way. Think of that first day when we did not even know anything about the skill / ability we wanted. From zero understanding of vocabulary, or music or dance or coding etc. we have now become significantly better.
Being happy with this fantastic progress from day one, let us continue to take small steps every day, to reach grand heights one day.