Google company logos and you'll get a lot of clean letters and bold graphics. It's all very sensible. Except if you happen to come across the original logo for Jeff Bezos' space startup Blue Origin. Then you'll squint and look, and look again.
Is that a couple of upright turtles? Are they holding some kind of shield surrounded by orbiting planets? And what's the weird writing at the bottom?
That weird writing is a two-word Latin phrase, Gradatim Ferociter, that serves not just as Blue Origin's motto but also something of a personal motto for Bezos. Turns out, the weirdness of this logo, and the catchphrase it contains in particular, perfectly capture the Amazon founder's unique approach to success.
"It means step by step ferociously, and it's the motto for Blue Origin," Bezos explained in an interview several years ago. "Basically, you can't skip steps, you have to put one foot in front of the other, things take time, there are no shortcuts, but you want to do those steps with passion and ferocity."
On the surface, it seems like a simple enough idea, but it clearly means a lot to Bezos. He loves it so much he got it stitched onto his lucky cowboy boots (Bezos spent a lot of time on his grandfather's Texas ranch as a kid), which he wears for each Blue Origin launch.
The importance of a slow and steady approach is clearly critical for a space company. "If you're building a flying vehicle, you can't cut any corners," Bezos notes. If you do, the thing stands a decent chance of blowing up. Doing things step by step but ferociously is clearly Bezos' approach to success in all of his ventures.
Slow and steady (and relentless) wins the race.
Amazon is a behemoth now -- quite literally the everything store -- but Bezos built his empire deliberately, starting with a single dowdy category, books, and creeping on to rule the world from there. This emphasis on small but relentless daily progress sounds about as sexy as the turtles that symbolize this methodical approach on the Blue Origin logo, but according to several experts, this approach is the true key to accomplishing greatness.
Author and entrepreneur Tim Ferriss, for instance, has highlighted the difference between having a dream (big, grand, and focused on an end goal) and having a plan (step by step hard work that focuses on each small unit of progress). The latter is definitely better, he claims. You get the feeling Bezos would agree.
"Productive and successful people practice the things that are important to them on a consistent basis. The best weightlifters are in the gym at the same time every week. The best writers are sitting down at the keyboard every day. And this same principle applies to the best leaders, parents, managers, musicians, and doctors," agrees blogger James Clear. Keeping a consistent schedule and putting one foot in front of the other, no matter what life throws at you, is an underrated skill, he insists.
In other words, like Bezos these thinkers don't advocate chasing after big breaks or overnight success. Instead, they urge us to settle in to step ferociously forward, expecting full well that success might take a while and require us to ignore a few speedy hares passing us by as they race toward a quick flameout.
Are you stepping ferociously toward your goals?