Have you watched the Amazon Empire documentary? There have been a lot of complaints against Amazon for workers’ rights in the last few years and the fact that Jeff Bezos made a gargantuan profit at a time when literally the whole world was struggling has not endeared him or the company to the general population. To be the devil’s advocate, if we look at Jeff Bezos from the lessons out of the Richest Man in Babylon, we can say he was strategic about his business and he grabbed every opportunity as it came. His individual success is not a debt to those of us who did not have the wit, will, opportunity, resources and all that to build our own empires or just simple success. However, even the Richest Man in Babylon points that care to others and indeed your own servants is still a duty that must be upheld.
It painted Jeff Bezos as a two-faced leader, seemingly friendly, visionary, man-of-the-people type on the outside but ruthless, heartless relentless driver on the inside with a plot to take over the world through Amazon services.
Some more background to the documentary, they (Frontline) try to find out where the principles that Amazon preaches were overtaken by the negative headlines we have been seeing. They interview founding members of Amazon who have since left, disgruntled workers, some vendors who have voiced their issues publicly before and of course, a few current Amazon representatives to respond to the allegations. The documentary gave me a perspective of suspicion and dread towards Amazon and other tech giants. It painted Jeff Bezos as a two-faced leader, seemingly friendly, visionary, man-of-the-people type on the outside but ruthless, heartless relentless driver on the inside with a plot to take over the world through Amazon services. The villain image is not hard to draw when he does kind of look like Megamind. I am looking forward to what his real mindset story will be.
Back to this month’s read, Mindset. The Chapter on business (chapter 3) has got to be my favourite. Unlike the other parts, the business aspect relates most to the area that I want to work on the most in my life. What I got from it at first is how your perception of ability and accomplishment affect how far you will rise in the workplace. She puts it so well that the people with a fixed mindset rarely profit from their mistakes and that limits how much they can grow. On the other hand, a growth mindset tends to create leaders as they focus more on enjoying what they do as opposed to making it to the top. Again, this book really fascinates me on how we are raised so much on the fixed mindset. Really though, raise your hand if you were in a school who’s seating arrangement was according to performance in exams.
Just from this chapter, you can see and will be able to identify people in your life who seem successful despite their fixed mindset and are still on top but, watch out for the Lee Iaccoca twist.
So, where does the Amazon story take me to mindsets? Stay with me as I reflect on the leadership types and you might see something. I do realise that I may come off as painting the fixed mindset as a terrible character trait that must be abandoned immediately and will lead you to failure. Work with me a little longer first. Just from this chapter, you can see and will be able to identify people in your life who seem successful despite their fixed mindset and are on top but, watch out for the Lee Iaccoca twist. There is the fixed mindset individual who has done what needed to be done; top grades in school, good job in a big company, maintained a steady performance of results and goes home every day going, “Yes, another day, another dollar made.” Or there is the fixed mindset CEO; built the company, is making profits or maybe just keeping it afloat, at the end of the day “Yes, I still run this.” What’s the transformation point to a growth mindset in these two places? The level of focus on the self.
The first- let’s term it “the worker” for this illustration. The worker has found their space and will do whatever it takes to maintain it. The worker will keep their head down and do just enough work to be recognised, by virtue of their experience they will rise in the ranks until they get to the Peter principle concept (
talked about it here keeping this reference so that I do write about it) and move to another organisation where they can still be on top. Their impact will be negligible, their journey centred on self-preservation and their interactions with failure sound like a John McEnroe minion. In case you don’t read the book, John McEnroe is one of the greatest tennis players in history but his talent is matched by his infamous temper at anything that went against him. Indeed, he won many titles but when he lost, there was always something or someone else to blame. Nothing is allowed to challenge his space of greatness.
Success but only on his terms and no failure on his part. It does not end well.
The fixed mindset CEO is about the bottom line and his greatness, again Lee Iacocca. He had everything it took to be a success but only if he stays a golden child, flawless and the smartest person in the room. He thought he was Henry Ford’s favourite until he got the same treatment he never stood up against. At Chrysler, he had to be the hero, firing promising employees and turning down ideas that were better than his. Success but only on his terms and no failure on his part. It does not end well. But how would a growth mindset look like in the very same situations? I’m thinking in terms of this pandemic, between the business leaders whose immediate reaction was to cut staff and costs to protect his bottom line- self-preservation. Or the business leader who made adjustments to working ways and motivated their team to find solutions as well- big picture thinking. Pick your leader, in any position, who moves people forward, makes solutions or the leader who focuses on and uses other people’s gaps to create problems and a step up for themselves.
When you are focused on yourself and your image of what you should be, you will blind yourself to the learnings that challenges will bring.
My take out from this book is your mindset, just like your purpose, works positively if it has an impact beyond you. It’s easy to make excuses: why you aren’t succeeding and even why you are failing and all that does is hold you back. When you are focused on yourself and your image of what you should be, you will blind yourself to the learnings that challenges will bring. A fixed mindset. Don’t worry about being the hero or you will end up your own villain. When you look at what will make you better, who would grow you, your unique selling point will shine through and take you where you need to be. A growth mindset.