Building on What Won't Change
In a constantly changing world, it's easy to become preoccupied with trying to predict what will change in the future. However, there's profound wisdom in focusing on what will remain constant. In computing, a powerful concept known as content hashing offers a stable foundation for modeling what does and does not change. Extending this idea to life in general, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, once emphasized the importance of building on a foundation of things that are unlikely to change. There is a common thread that connects these concepts that I’d like to explore.
In computing, content hashing involves creating a unique identifier for data based on its content rather than its location or name. This principle allows for rapid introduction of changes while ensuring the integrity and longevity of the data. It's a method that relies on the unchanging nature of the content to provide consistency and reliability.
This way, I can use a CDN to cache the file for a very long time, let’s say, for one year. I can do this confidently because if the file changes, I’ll create a new file and store it on my CDN again. This way, I never have to worry about “purging” the cache since I can rely on what won’t change: the hash.
Jeff Bezos's Insight
Bezos once emphasized that people ask him what he thinks might change over the next ten years. He argues that a more valuable question is, "What's not going to change in the next ten years?" He pointed out that building a strategy around stable, unchanging elements can lead to long-term success. In Amazon's case, it was the recognition that customers will always value low prices, fast delivery, and a vast selection. By concentrating on these constants, Amazon could invest energy and resources confidently, knowing that these efforts would continue to pay dividends.
Applying the Principle to Life
Just as content hashing and Bezos's philosophy rely on the unchanging, we can apply this concept to our personal and professional lives. By identifying what is unlikely to change – our core values, long-term goals, or fundamental needs – we can create a stable base upon which to build. This approach allows us to invest our time and energy into endeavors that will have lasting significance rather than being swayed by fleeting trends or temporary challenges.
In a world of perpetual change, true art is discerning what remains constant. Whether it's the unchanging nature of hashed content in a digital system or the enduring customer desires in a retail giant like Amazon, understanding and leveraging the immutable can lead to profound insights. As we navigate life's uncertainties, let’s remember that there is real power in building on what will not change.
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