“We are stubborn vision. We are flexible on details.” -Jeff Bezos
This philosophy of Jeff Bezos that drives the culture at Amazon is a huge reason behind their success. By keeping the overall vision in mind and not getting too caught up in the details they consistently grow as a business.
If you don’t feel you are living your healthiest potential, adopting this philosophy may just be the thing you’ve been missing.
If you’ve been searching for some secret to optimal health for years but feel like you just haven’t found the right thing yet, you might be too focused on the details and not enough on the big picture.
Most of us easily fall into this trap, losing sight of our purpose and our why when it comes to our health.
If you want to be healthier, focus instead on being flexible about the details of how to achieve it.
We see it time and time again. Flashy health headlines that draw us in and cause us to jump on the bandwagon of the latest health trend without much of our own research. If the media says it, it must be true right?
For example… Eating anything other than vegan is the health equivalent of smoking. Fat is the problem. No wait, sugar is the problem. Fat is fine. CrossFit solves any problem. Ignore CrossFit, everyone should have a yoga practice instead. Sitting is the new smoking.
While some of these have merit, the ever-changing headlines get confusing. Thousands of new health studies are published daily, intending to show us which particular diet and lifestyle habits will lead us to be indestructible human beings.
And when we see these headlines, we can’t but help to jump to extremes. As human beings, we don’t like to live in gray areas. And health is one big gray area, full of choices.
However, what works for you will not likely work for your neighbor, which is where blanket health advice promoted by the media becomes more harmful than helpful. It completely overlooks the subtleties of individualized health. For each of us to adopt the same exercise and diet protocols sounds a little ridiculous if we use common sense and put some thought into it.
But unless we are willing to change as new information becomes available, we will be too caught up wallowing in the details to achieve our best health. We have a tendency to latch on to one particular lifestyle choice to the point it becomes ingrained in our identity. When presented with new information, we immediately reject it if it doesn’t fit our world view without further consideration.
Flexibility with details is the ultimate health habit you can have. Our health needs change throughout the years, and our habits should change to reflect that.
The minute you become too emotionally invested into any one particular philosophy and tune out alternative options is the moment you stop growing.
Instead of personally identifying with your health choices, adopt the mindset of Bezos. Know that your overall mission is to live your healthiest, most fulfilled life. But hold on to the awareness that the details change over time.
Today a vegan diet might be working, but tomorrow you might need to incorporate a little more of a paleo approach. You might be really excited by barbells today, but tomorrow want to adopt a yoga practice. All of these are great choices, but also very different details that contribute to your overall purpose.
Be kind and forgiving to yourself above all else. Never stop using your common sense, and never fall into any one philosophy so far that you can’t hear any alternatives.
One way to prevent yourself from getting bogged down in too many details is to develop a personal health mission statement.
Once your mission statement is in place, the details are less important and decision making becomes much easier. Does the new habit you want to form fit your mission statement? If so, carry on. If not, reassess.
For example, my personal health mission involves pursuing optimal health in a way that is not detrimental to the environment and relies on as few resources as possible.
So what does that look like?
Is a new food I want to incorporate into my diet sustainable or can it be found locally? If no, I give it very serious consideration with further research.
For fitness, I focus on activities that don’t involve an investment in much equipment beyond what is readily available to me. Walking is a great exercise, requiring almost nothing to get started other than a good pair of shoes (preferably the minimal variety). The floor is a fantastic piece of exercise equipment that most of us don’t use enough. And daily chores can be easily turned in to movement-based activities. These small choices are easy to make in the context of my mission statement.
By keeping this big picture construct in mind making choices on the little things becomes much easier.
Use your mission statement to guide you, so you never get too emotionally invested in the details. Make the best decisions you can at any given moment with the information available, and realize you may want to make changes as new information becomes available.
Above all, don’t force yourself to adopt any health habit if it doesn’t feel like the right fit for you, even if it logically makes sense or was recommended by a trusted expert. Just set it aside and revisit it later if and when it feels like the right time. It may be that it isn’t the right time now, or that it might just not be for you at all.
For your best health, don’t lose sight of the big picture. Use your intuition, and don’t stress over the details.
Try it for yourself, discover how a personal health mission statement can change your life!