Nestled midway through the narrative, the billionaire tech boss revealed a lesson about achieving high standards. He illustrates with an anecdote about a yoga handstand.
Bezos shares the story of a "close friend" who was determined to do a "perfect handstand" — "No leaning against a wall. Not for just a few seconds. Instagram good," Bezos writes in the annual letter.
To learn, she took a handstand workshop and practiced for a while with little success. "So, she hired a handstand coach. Yes, I know what you're thinking, but evidently this is an actual thing that exists," Bezos writes.
The handstand coach gave Bezos' friend some very insightful advice: "'Most people,' he said, 'think that if they work hard, they should be able to master a handstand in about two weeks. The reality is that it takes about six months of daily practice. If you think you should be able to do it in two weeks, you're just going to end up quitting,'" Bezos writes.
The lesson resonated for Bezos — if a leader is not honest about what it takes to achieve a goal, that can actually diminish the likelihood of others achieving it.
"Unrealistic beliefs on scope — often hidden and undiscussed — kill high standards. To achieve high standards yourself or as part of a team, you need to form and proactively communicate realistic beliefs about how hard something is going to be — something this coach understood well," Bezos writes.