Seattle attracts tech talent from all over the globe, and high stress jobs at world class companies require employees to utilize all of their intellectual, emotional and physical resources on a daily basis. The culture at companies like Amazon challenge employees to continuously innovate with mantras like “It’s Always Day 1.”
In other words, Amazon is a big company with the spirit of a start-up.
So what, then, would Day 2 look like? In his 2016 letter to shareholders, CEO Jeff Bezos describes Day 2 this way:
“Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.”
Yikes! So how do we stay in Day 1? Bezos continues in the letter:
“Staying in Day 1 requires you to experiment patiently, accept failures, plant seeds, protect saplings, and double down when you see customer delight.”
This Day 1 management style has helped Amazon avoid slipping into a Day 2 mindset of stasis, and the company continues to grow at a dizzying rate. And for employees in the workplace, its easy to imagine how naturally the “Day 1” worldview is applied and benefits the tech giant.
So how about if we were to apply the “It’s Always Day 1” mantra at home, when it comes to our mental health and relationships? What if we considered every day an opportunity to innovate in the way we love one another and take care of ourselves?
When we react to stress by putting our lives and relationships on autopilot, or accept a Day 2 mindset of stasis, we invite in feelings of burnout and disconnection that can slowly deteriorate our well-being. Oftentimes, we begin to fall into patterns of behavior that keep us treading water, and we find ourselves exhausted in our efforts to simply stay afloat. We notice increased anxiety and depression, and our relationships begin to sink with us.
Bezos accounts for this type of autopilot when he describes the tendency for Day 2 companies to “stop looking at outcomes and just make sure you’re doing the process right.” In this way, Day 2 companies rely on averages and market research surveys, missing out on what the unique customer actually wants today, and more importantly – tomorrow. They are treading water instead of swimming ahead.
As we grow and develop personally and professionally in a society that beckons us ever faster down the road of innovation, the future of our mental health and relationships can’t afford a Day 2 mindset at home.
We need to accept when our existing process of health and wellness is no longer working, because the way you take care of yourself when you are twenty-five might not work anymore at age thirty, forty or fifty. This involves asking the big questions: what do I, a unique customer, really need in my life right now? What do I need from my loved ones, and what do my loved ones need from me?
A Day 1 mindset at home looks like inviting creativity, vulnerability and authenticity into our lives and relationships. Try something new. And if it energizes you, double down and do more of it. Leave behind activities that no longer serve you. Be patient with yourself as you experiment with who you are becoming.
The same goes for our relationships. Notice if the words and gestures that worked when you were first dating aren’t bringing you any closer to your partner now, and experiment with fresh ideas to increase your connection. Ask hard questions of one another, and don’t sleep on finding the answers. Protect what currently is working in your relationship, even if it takes hard work, with an eye to where you both want to go in the future.
No matter what you have been through up until today, the beauty of “It’s Always Day 1” lies in its invitation for us to innovate in the here and now. As the CEO of the start-up that is your life, I challenge you to ask yourself: what can I do today to prioritize my long-term mental health and relationship satisfaction? And then, ask yourself again tomorrow and the day after that. Before long you might just see a life transformed.
~ Nicole Brown, firstname.lastname@example.org