Bright past should not hold back your business to bright future in dynamic environment

Wednesday September 12 2018

Amazon store

Customers arrive at Amazon Books in Manhattan's Time Warner Center on May 25, 2017 as the online retailing giant Amazon.com Inc. opens its first New York City bookstore. PHOTO | TIMOTHY A. CLARY | AFP 

By WALE AKINYEMI
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And so Amazon has become the second company in the world to hit the trillion-dollar mark — after Apple.

This company that brought writers and publishers in touch with their consumers through Amazon.com has produced the richest man in the world and has produced a trillion-dollar company.

A closer look at Amazon will reveal that this is consistent with the mentality that thrives on disruption. It is a mentality that says if it has not been done before, why not us?

A simple as it appears, this mindset is not common. Many look for benchmarks before embarking on new ventures.

As long as you are looking for benchmarks, the likelihood of you becoming a disruptor are slim. The great pyramids of Giza were the tallest man-made structures for 3,800 years and a wonder of the ancient world. Who were they benchmarking?

On May 25, 1961, US President John F. Kennedy stood before Congress to deliver a special message on "urgent national needs."

He asked for an additional $7 billion to $9 billion over the next five years for the space programme, stating to Congress: "This nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth."

On July 20, 1969, president Kennedy's dream was realised.

As long as you are not ready to be different, you cannot make a difference.

Many companies that had opportunities to change the world missed out on them because they were either protecting their past or because they did not see anything that supported their dream for the future around them, and so they gave up. They gave up because there was no one to benchmark.

In a world where most people try to fit in, the true leaders will be those that strive to stand out. In your difference lies the difference.

Mobile phones serve a basic purpose — to be able to communicate with others by voice and by text.

When a provider decided to see a mobile phone as a mobile life control centre where there can be entertainment, information and even money transfer then it doesn’t take rocket science to know why such a company will be the leader.

Business leaders are the ones who are able to constantly prove that they are different because, like nations and individuals, companies rise to their degree of differentiation.

Your strength is in your uniqueness. In the battle between the lion and the shark the terrain will determine the outcome.

Everyone has been given a terrain of dominance but instead they want to abide by the terrain of conformity.

Conformity is appealing because it makes no demand. It is appealing because it hides weaknesses in the crowd. It is appealing because it is easily acceptable and it raises no eyebrows.

It is, however, the breeding ground of mediocrity. It is the home of the average. A conformist — when a brilliant conformist — will always fall to the average rate of conformity that exists in his associations.

Most people merge themselves into a terrain of conformity because it gives them easy comfort.

There is however a generation of people who create terrains where there were none. They chart the path and open up new areas for people to explore.

Your fortune is not in how similar you are to everyone but in how different you are. True wealth and significance can never be found in the place of conformity.

The difference between precious stones and ordinary stones is rarity. Rarity increases value.

Your degree of differentiation will determine the extent of your rarity.

The ability to convert your uniqueness into your business is one of the attributes of great entrepreneurs. The celebration of your uniqueness is the beginning of your advancement.

Most people read the map but some people draw the map. One of the greatest things in geography is the fact that maps are always changing because boundaries are always changing.

You can do one of two things today: You can conform yourself to the lines of the map that have been drawn for you by tradition, weaknesses or even by your past success, or you can decide it is time to draw the map of your new day, the map of your destiny, the map of greatness, the map of significance and relevance by your degree of differentiation.

Some people write scripts while others act out the scripts. The truth is that life has been scripted and the masses simply act out the script.

However, the people that make the greatest dent in the universe, like Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, are not the people that read from the script that has been given. They are people who write their own script.
Many find it difficult to swim in the waters of disruption because they are protecting their past.

Protecting the past is very common because we draw comfort from the successful past. We get a feeling of importance from who we used to be and this feeling of importance produces a level of pride that makes it difficult to see opportunities to create a new future.

Disruption is for those who have seen a future so bright that no bright past can hold them back. Only those who dare to lose sight of the shore will ever discover new lands.

Dr Wale Akinyemi is the chief transformation officer, Power Talks; [email protected]; Twitter @waleakinyemi