“Cleverness is a Gift. Kindness is a Choice.” Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos in his Baccalaureate address to Princeton University’s Class of 2010.
Jeff Bezos’ speech on the subject of choices
What are some of the most powerful choices you’ve made to date?
Some of my biggies:
- To quit work and travel to Asia in the early 90s. I planned to travel for about a year and returned after 2,5 years.
- To enter into relationships and not be afraid to love.
- To get myself a Cat and a Dog. The Cat spins, mows, catches flies and mosquitoes and the Dog makes go on walkabouts.
- To not accept a job abroad as I wanted to be close to my adorable (then young) nephews.
- To travel for three months including visiting my great-aunt in Alaska. I saw my first wild bear, first ever whale and will never forget her waving hand at in Seward on the Alaskan Kenai Peninsula when we docked after 3 days on the Inside Passage ferry.
- To buy a house in a village and move out of the city.
- To become self-employed and write a book for Dutch entrepreneurs.
- and I can go on and on…
Life is about choices.
How do you make them?
What part of us is deciding about one or the other path anyway? Our minds, hearts, souls? Malcolm Gladwell wrote the bestseller Blink in which he discusses how we make decisions in split seconds and the power (and pitfalls) of doing so. For me, the more honest I am with myself about how I feel about a certain choice, the quieter my mind chatter about the decision at hand and the more I just know what to do. The more honest, the quicker this Yes or No feeling is present. And I ask myself questions.
What questions do you ask yourself?
Jeff Bezos’ list included these:
- How will you use your gifts?
- What choices will you make?
- Will inertia be your guide, or will you follow your passions?
- Will you follow dogma, or will you be original?
- Will you choose a life of ease, or a life of service and adventure?
- Will you wilt under criticism, or will you follow your convictions?
- Will you bluff it out when you’re wrong, or will you apologize?
- Will you guard your heart against rejection, or will you act when you fall in love?
- Will you play it safe, or will you be a little bit swashbuckling?
- When it’s tough, will you give up, or will you be relentless?
- Will you be a cynic, or will you be a builder?
- Will you be clever at the expense of others, or will you be kind?
Here’s a few more
- Will you let you heart or your mind rule?
- Will you live the mental story that you created about your own life, or will you drop it?
- Will you enter into dialogue or wanna-win debates?
- Will you share and receive with a smile or balance each act on a scale?
- Will you allow yourself to feel the wind blow thru your hair or close every window to mother nature?
- Will you remember to live your dreams or pretend they do not exist?
What choice today, will help you the most?