If you use the Internet to shop for items, there’s a good chance you’ve purchased products from Amazon.com. With 96 fulfillment centers located throughout the United States, Amazon is a financial threat to a number of local and national businesses. Products that are ordered from Amazon are routinely delivered to customers’ doorsteps within one to three days.
In addition to having a national presence, after five years of testing its “AmazonFresh” grocery program in Seattle, Amazon is expanding its local grocery business to Los Angeles and San Francisco. The AmazonFresh grocery program guarantees same-day delivery of groceries and 500,000 other items to customers in its local service areas. If you think Wal-Mart has been a destructive force to local businesses, wait until you see the companies Amazon crushes as it launches its local grocery program in other areas of the country.
In a recent annual report to shareholders, Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon, wrote:
Our battle against annoying wire ties and plastic clamshells [packaging] rages on. An initiative that began five years ago with a simple idea that you shouldn’t have to risk bodily injury opening your new electronics or toys has now grown. We have imposed Amazon’s specs on over 200,000 products, all available in easy-to-open, recyclable packaging designed to alleviate “wrap rage” … We have over 2,000 manufacturers in our Frustration-Free Packaging Program … Through hard work and perseverance, an idea that started with only 19 products is now available on hundreds of thousands …
Jeff Bezos has followed in the footsteps of other legendary American entrepreneurs, such as Thomas Edison (the lightbulb), Walt Disney (Walt Disney World), Sam Walton (Wal-Mart), Steve Jobs (the iPhone), Ray Kroc (McDonalds), and Henry Ford (the Model T Ford). They, like Bezos, were all obsessed with managing and controlling even the most minute details of the typical customer experience.
What would you say if I told you that the greatest entrepreneurs of all time all had something in common with the saints? While each of the entrepreneurs built their empires in part because of their excessive preoccupation with the needs, wants, and desires of their customers, the saints built their reputations and earned their place in Heaven because of their excessive preoccupation with developing a greater knowledge of and relationship with God.
While Bezos uses his God-given time, talents, and gifts to figure out more ingenious ways to serve his customers, as devout Catholics, you and I should be using our time, talents, and gifts to figure out more ingenious ways to get to know, love, and serve God.
Just as focusing on something as minor as the ease of opening a package can have a significant impact on how a customer feels about receiving a product from Amazon, something as minor as a few additional prayers each day can have a significant impact on our relationship with God.
Some relatively minor acts that could have a significant impact on our relationship with God are as follows:
• Making the sign of the cross every time you get into your car to go somewhere
• Saying a prayer for purity of heart, mind, soul, and body every time you wash your hands
• Praying an Act of Contrition every time you lie down to go to sleep
• Greeting the holy family — Jesus, Mary, and Joseph — immediately after turning off your alarm in the morning, and then asking them for guidance throughout your day
• Asking your guardian angel and the guardian angel of the person you are interacting with to assist you in your conversation with that person
One of the 10 principles of the Blessed Virgin Mary is “continual mental prayer.” By anchoring simple prayers to tasks that we perform during the day, we can more closely imitate the mother of God and the other saints in the way they communicated with and interacted with their Creator.
Are you striving each day to reach perfection? Are you hoping to someday join the saints in Heaven for all eternity? If your answer is yes, then you need to become more preoccupied with using every opportunity available to reach out to God in prayer.