Bezos: The best way to think about it was to project me forward to age 80 and said look when I’m 80 years old I want to have minimized the number of regrets that I have. I don’t want to be 80 years old in a quiet moment of reflection thinking back over my life and catalog you a bunch of major regrets and I think that regrets, our biggest regrets, turned out to be acts of omission. It’s paths not taken and they haunt us. We wonder what would have happened? I loved that person and I never told him and then they married somebody else.
I didn’t you know, I didn’t do this and so that’s the frame of mind that I put myself in and I and once I did that once I thought about that way. It was immediately obvious to me. I knew that when I’m 80 I would never regret trying this thing that I was super excited about and failing; if it failed, fine, I would be very proud of the fact. When I’m 80 that I tried and I also knew that it would always haunt me if I didn’t try and so that would be regret. It would be a hundred percent chance of regret if I didn’t try and a 0% chance of regret if I tried and failed. So, I think that’s a useful metric for any important life decision.
You can choose. We all get to choose our life stories and it’s the choices that define us, not our gifts. Everybody in this room has many gifts. I have many gifts. You can never be proud of your gifts because they’re gifts. They were given to you. Might be you know, tall or you might be good at math or you might be extremely beautiful or handsome or you know there are many gifts and you can only be proud of your choices because those are the things that you are, that you’re, that you are acting on and one of the most important choices that each of us has is you can choose a life of ease and comfort or you can choose a life of service and adventure and when you’re 80. Which one of those things you think you’re going to be more proud of?
You’re going to be more proud of having chosen a life of service and adventure.
If you want to be an inventor of any kind of venting a new you know a new service offering for customers or a new product or anything being an inventor requires because the world is so complicated. You have to be a domain expert, I mean, in a way even if you’re not the beginning, you have to learn, learn, learn, learn, learn, enough so it should become a domain expert but the danger is once you’ve become a domain expert you can be trapped by that knowledge and so inventors have this paradoxical ability to have that, you know, 10,000 hours of practice and be a real domain expert and have that beginner’s mind have that look at it freshly even though they know so much about the domain and that’s the key to inventing. If you have to have both and I think that is intentional. I think all of us have that inside of us and we could all do it but you have to be intentional about it. You have to say yeah, I am going to become an expert and I’m going to keep my beginner’s mind.
Charina Silva is a full time project manager and a part time content editor.