Few days ago I was reading the last annual letter by Jeff Bezos as CEO of Amazon as he departs the company after more than 2 decades. It’s a long read and I picked up a few nuggets but one thing stood out for me.
He always attaches the first annual letter to every single annual letter he has written over the past two decades.
Remembering where and how it all started, staying humble. More importantly, comparing us with ourselves, how we were when we started.
Jeff Bezos didn’t attach an annual letter from Google or Microsoft. But when thinking about the letters of our life, we attach letters of other people, many of whom we don’t even know. I think journaling is so powerful because it allows us to kind of write our own “annual letters”, and we can always go back and read old ones and that’s the closest we can come with truth in comparing ourselves and measuring progress.
The other takeaway was the philosophy of “Create more than you consume”. A business should offer a lot more value to consumers than what they pay for a product or service. Similarly, in life we should give a lot more than what we receive – whether it’s work, personal relationships, family relationships, relationship with the Universe.
Our default mode seems to be asking what has this person done for me, can this person be useful to me. Instead if we ask ourselves first what can I do for this person, things would be a lot different. Since my early childhood, I had always wanted to help others, those who were less fortunate than us. But I always thought that once I make it in life, then I will start doing some charity. There might be a few exceptions but for most of us, it just gets delayed and delayed and before long it will be time for retirement before we start doing some charity. But we can always start where we are, many times I just donate $5 or $10 to an organization, instead of 15% tip, give 20% tip at the restaurant, buy something from the small shop or the roadside vendor versus going to big stores for the same purchase. It feels good, at least it’s a start and kindness spreads in our own heart. The Random Acts of kindness stories on the black lotus app are so incredible, I always find inspiration to at least do one small act of kindness.
Getting back to the annual letter, a great reminder to escape the comparison trap. We are so vulnerable to it since we live in a world where we are constantly getting bombarded with more and more information and data points. If we can always remember to compare ourselves to how we were the day before, week before, month before and year before, we would do ourselves a great favor and make a dent in the Universe.
P.S. You can read the annual letter below.