Two things that are appreciated in this world is optimism and transparency. Those two traits are also associated with many of today's top performers.

When it comes to transparency, one of the best ways to demonstrate this is through giving a behind the scenes look at your operations. Two of the best examples, who do this through their annual letters are Jeff Bezos and Bill and Melinda Gates.

Bill and Melinda Gates decided to do something different for their annual letter since it was the tenth year. Those two are insanely smart and optimistic, but they also provide a great example of how to operate with a winners mentality. As I read through this letter, here are three lessons that I took away about adopting a winners mindset.

1. You must be rooted in reality and willing to pivot.

For question number two, they were asked: "What do you have to show for the billions you've spent on U.S. education."

Bill's reply was simply:  

"A lot, but not as much as either of us would like. Unfortunately, although there's been some progress over the past decade, America's public schools are still falling short on important metrics, especially college completion. And the statistics are even worse for disadvantaged students."

As you're attempting to grow your business, improve your health, and make your biggest impact, it's tempting at times to sugarcoat the situation to avoid potential pain and disappointment.

But delaying those potential feelings only leads to a bigger compound effect down the road because you failed to address the root cause of the situation. Succeeding at a high level is tough and will often come with a truckload of disappointments and setbacks in the short term. But those setbacks or moments of slow progress serves as pivotal feedback to improve upon.

In those moments, pivoting is a necessity. Describing the pivot they're making, Melinda says "Our role will be to support the schools as they design changes, gather and analyze data, and make adjustments over time based on what they're learning."

The Gates realized that giving more power to local educators would be important because each network of schools is faced with unique problems and challenges that require tailored approaches. Lastly, the Gates realized that these situations such as mentoring programs weren't in their direct wheelhouse of knowledge. They would provide more benefit in a supportive role.

As you look at your business and approach your craft, look at the issues that cause some anxiety and uneasiness. Don't let your ego in this situation hamper you from making the necessary changes to enlist a better future down the road.

2. Cooperation leads to better results.

When posed with the question, "Are you imposing your values on other cultures", Melinda's response was

"We're acutely aware that some development programs in the past were led by people who assumed they knew better than the people they were trying to help. We've learned over the years that listening and understanding people's needs from their perspective is not only more respectful--it's also more effective."

The Gates understood that to succeed long term, they needed the local communities buy-in and participation.

Whether you're the best player on the team or the one who has all the money, sometimes those people in that situation will drown everyone else out. While to them it makes sense, in the big picture, it's not creating an infrastructure of self-sufficiency and community building.

In sports, business, and even philanthropic work, you want to build your teammates and surrounding environment up so they can hold their own. When all parts are in sync, progress and results are far greater than with individuals operating to the beat of their own drum.

3. Find the deeper meaning and you'll never lose motivation.

Question number 10 "Why are you really giving your money away--what's in it for you" was my favorite question to read.

Bill states that there are two reasons to do something like this. The first is "that it's meaningful work and the other reason is that we have fun doing it."

Even if you're not trying to end polio and malaria, what you're working on needs to have some meaning and enjoyment to it. Without those two factors, you won't keep working those marathon hours required to achieve those large feats.

As Melinda states "Where we go, who we spend our time with, what we read and watch and listen to--these decisions are made through the prism of our work at the foundation."

In today's world, separation of work and life isn't what we should be aiming for. Instead, our objective should be to marry our work and life into a seamless masterpiece.

Published on: May 31, 2018