Thinking small is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Leaders create and communicate a bold direction that inspires results. They think differently and look around corners for ways to serve customers
Let’s explore how thinking big looks like in action:
1) Know your why, what will follow
WHY defines your vision while WHAT lays down the things you do to achieve that vision.
Simon Sinek says in Start With Why “When we communicate from the outside in, when we communicate WHAT we do first, yes, people can understand vast amounts of complicated information, like facts and features, but it does not drive behavior. But when we communicate from the inside out, we’re talking directly to the part of the brain that controls decision-making, and our language part of the brain allows us to rationalize those decisions”
Knowing your why will not only align others to your direction, but it will also serve as the guiding principle every step of the way.
When you think big and imagine your future self, don’t start with WHAT, ask WHY – what do I want and why do I want it.
Once your why is clear – why you do what you do, your what will find its way to be in harmony with your why.
Starting with why will trigger a motion that will push your visualization from imagination to the reality of your purpose.
2) Take that first step, it isn’t scary
Thinking big can drive you crazy if you use it to plan every step of the way. Let’s be real. You don’t know the path yet and things can change at a very fast pace.
You don’t need a plan initially, what you really need is momentum. As Lao Tzu said “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
That first step is crucial as well as irrelevant.
It’s crucial to put your thinking into action, to not waste time in creating a perfect plan to get started, to not let your fears push you back and to feel the energy that comes from seeing things in action.
It’s irrelevant in that it doesn’t matter where and how you start, what matters is how you adopt and incorporate changes along the way.
Don’t overthink. Define a few steps as you see in the moment, pick the one that aligns best with your strengths and just go and do it. Take this advice from Paul Graham “The way to do really big things seems to be to start with deceptively small things.”
3) Be consistent, be deliberate
Nothing big ever comes to life without being intentional in doing daily work. It’s doing work even when no one is watching, when you don’t feel like it or when your mind tries to trick you into distractions.
Putting in small effort consistently, making tiny progress everyday may seem insignificant in the moment, but its benefits compound over time.
Consistency and deliberate practice not only builds the momentum and helps you push forward, it acts as a medium to experiment, try new ideas and carve out a path with the maximum potential.
As Anders Ericsson advises in Peak “Deliberate practice can open the door to a world of possibilities that you may have been convinced were out of reach. Open that door”
An effective practice to manage consistency is to do daily planning. At the end of each day, plan 3-4 tasks that you need to accomplish the next day. This simple habit will tune your mind to the work you need to do instead of reacting to everyday events.
Consistency and deliberate practice will keep your thoughts aligned with the future it envisions.
4) Embrace discomfort, practice experimentation
Yes, your life may suck initially as results may be disappointing. But if you do not try and experiment with fear of failure, you may never identify the one bet that will drive your idea to success.
Results improve either because your practice makes them better or you find the key project that pushes your idea forward.
It’s not possible without embracing discomfort, taking an attitude of a learner, practicing without fear of failure and experimenting with little bets to find the one that will make a difference.
Be so good they can’t ignore you –
The important thing about little bets is that they’re bite-sized. You try one. It takes a few months at most. It either succeeds or fails, but either way you get important feedback to guide your next steps. This approach stands in contrast to the idea of choosing a bold plan and making one big bet on its success
Thinking big without experimenting will keep your ideas at a dream level. Jolt them to life by seeing them in action.
5) Intelligence is not everything, attitude counts
Intelligence is important, but it’s not everything. What matters more is how you put your knowledge to use, what steps you take to learn new information and how you expand your circle of competence.
Not having enough intelligence could be an excuse to not think big, stop trying and give up too soon. But, really it’s the attitude that counts more than intelligence.
What really matters is not how much intelligence you have but how you use what you do have. The thinking that guides your intelligence is much more important than the quantity of your brainpower
You may have all the brains in the world and still do nothing about it. Most successful people around you are not the most brainy people, they are the people who consciously engage in a positive attitude towards life.
6) Others can pull you down, don’t let them
It’s easy to get caught up in the negativity from people around you – your idea is not that great, it won’t work, why are you wasting your time, go do something else instead.
It is not being suggested that you hide from the reality of your situation or completely ignore the advice even when there’s some truth to it. Chew over it, put things into perspective, but then decide for yourself.
Once you have made a decision to move forward, don’t let negative energy from others suck up into your drive to do great work.
People will continue to bother. Instead of blaming them for what they think, take responsibility to ignore them if that’s what you need to do to move forward.
Thinking big involves prioritizing what matters by removing the obstacles along the way.
7) Network is power, utilize it
There’s so much to learn from people within our network.
Instead of starting from scratch, expand your thinking by reaching out to people and learn how they have done it in the past, what did they do to get past failures, how do they see your vision and what would they advise.
People in the network not only inspire, but they can also influence your thinking, guide you along the way and may be, just maybe if your idea connects with them personally, they can be your biggest brand ambassadors helping you spread the word.
8) Adapt, then correct
A big part of being successful is the ability to measure progress, get feedback on the process, identify failure points, determine where adjustments in plan need to be made, and rapidly correct errors through adaptation.
Thinking big needs to spring into action to welcome change as a way of doing things instead of resisting it. Without the mindset to improve as you move along, you may be stuck with doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.
Being in the driver’s seat as you learn to drive a car may be exciting, but the traffic on the road can slow you down, some rash drivers may scare the hell out of you and you may even have to change your original route if you wish to reach your destination.
There will be plenty of reasons to give up driving and many more to keep going. In the end how you utilize the power of thinking big to make your journey more rewarding is up to you.