Amazon CEO wants employees to ‘wake up every morning terrified’
(FinancialPress) — Famed Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos knows a thing or two about the pitfalls of complacency, both in professional and personal life. That‘s what led him to use fear as a motivator in the workplace – both in the good and bad times. He feels that both work ethic and innovative thinking within his teams can be bolstered with it as a catalyst.
In a 1999 shareholder letter, Bezos revealed some of his methods: “I constantly remind our employees to be afraid, to wake up every morning terrified. Our customers have made our business what it is, and we consider them to be loyal to us – right up until the second that someone else offers them a better service.”
Terrifying his workers was by no means his goal, though. He rather aimed to make them fear not being the best at what they do anymore, gunning for “constant improvement, experimentation and innovation in every initiative“, in order to ensure that Amazon would remain competitive as time went by.
Motivating through fear is not a tactic used only by the Amazon founder. Tim Ferris, the podcast host and best-selling author is another proponent of using it as a motivator. His perspective consists of writing down the fears he wants to work on, identifying the worst-case scenario for it and figuring out a way to prevent it. Ferris attributes some of his biggest wins to sticking to this method – as it helped him get conditioned to failure in pursuit of success.
When interviewed by Bloomberg in 2016, Nooyi revealed that fear was one of her greater motivators during the difficult transition period. “I’m always afraid that if I fail, I may have to go back to something that I don’t want to,” she said. “That fear always motivates me and so I drive myself to be better and better at my job everyday.”