It's no accident that Jeff Bezos built Amazon into one of today's most successful businesses, and that it has made him the richest person in the world, with a net worth of more than $94 billion.
What most of us don't know, however, is the memorable event in his youth that helped build the self-reliance and confidence he needed to become a multi-billionaire.
On November 4, Jeff Bezos was interviewed by his brother Mark at the Summit LA17 event in Los Angeles. During the course of the interview, Jeff told a shocking story about one summer he spent on his grandfather's ranch in south Texas.
According to Jeff Bezos:
"I spent all my summers on his ranch, from age 4 to 16, and [Jeff's grandfather Pop] was incredibly self-reliant. You know, if you're in the middle of nowhere, in a rural area, you don't pick up the phone and call somebody when something breaks, you figure out how to fix it yourself. So, as a kid, I got to see him solve all these problems and be a real problem solver.... We learned a lot of things from watching him, because he would take on major projects that he didn't really know how to do and then figure out how to do them."
Of course, not everything went according to plan. Continues Bezos:
"One day [Pop] was all by himself. He had driven to the ranch and he was at the main gate to the ranch and he forgot to put the car in park. So, when he got to the gate, he noticed that the car was slowly rolling downhill toward the gate. He thought, 'This is fantastic. I have just enough time to unlatch the gate, throw the gate open, the car is going to drive right through and this will be wonderful.'
"He almost got the gate unlatched when the car hit the gate and it caught his thumb between the gate and the fence post and it stripped all the flesh off of his thumb. It was hanging there by a tiny little thread and he was so angry at himself that he ripped that piece of flesh off and threw it in the brush. Got back in the car, drove himself to the emergency room in Dilley, Texas, 16-miles away. And when he got there, they said, 'This is great. We can reattach that, where is it?' He said, 'Well, I threw it in the brush.' "
As Bezos relates in the interview, everyone drove back to the ranch to look for the missing thumb, without success. So, they returned to the emergency room and grafted some skin from Pop's butt and built him a new thumb, which ended up working perfectly well.
And what did this event have to do with Jeff Bezos's future success? He explains how the self-reliance and resourcefulness he learned on the ranch helped him in business.
"There are a lot of entrepreneurs and people pursuing dreams and passions.... The whole point of moving things forward is you run into problems, you run into failures, things don't work. You have to back up and try again. Each one of those times when you have to step back, back up, and try again. You're using resourcefulness, you're using self-reliance. You're trying to invent your way out of a box, and we have tons of examples at Amazon where we have had to do this. We failed so many times. I always think of us as a great place to fail because we're good at it. We have so much practice."
So, the next time business--and life--throws a curve ball your way, follow Jeff Bezos's advice. Back up and try again.
Success will soon be yours.
Check out the full interview between brothers Jeff and Mark Bezos below.