I often find myself rolling my eyes or getting a little sick to my stomach when I see people with bios that say “dreamer”, “I play big”, “I dream big”, or “I help people fulfill their dreams”. Over the years I’ve grown more in favor of people that work hard and consistently ship great work, as opposed to people that just talk big.
My view of the world has become more “practical” the older that I get.
That being said, I find myself “thinking big” again. I think about people like Richard Branson or Elon Musk and say to myself, “well, somebody has to do it”.
The worldview that we’ve been trained to have is one that says we’re to follow the rules, be good at one thing, and find our place in the assembly line. (Don’t think for a minute that a desk job isn’t part of an assembly line as well.)
We hold back from having big dreams because we’re afraid of what people will say, or we’re afraid of looking like an idiot. I think this is true if you aren’t taking practical steps along the way, but I don’t see anything wrong with dreaming big. Then, there’s always this:
“The desire that we have to do something that’s never been done before means that the people who are around you generally will not encourage you to do it…if they were encouraging you to do it, then other people would be doing it already and it wouldn’t be unique.” – Seth Godin
It’s important to know your dreams, but to keep them to yourself for the time being. Instead, know your end dream but build the small things it will take to get there. Eventually, people will start to put things together. After all, Richard Branson started out with a small record store, not a spaceship.
Dreams are Risky
We live in an era when if it’s not risky, it’s not worth doing. If your idea is a safe, plastic idea that already exists, people would already be doing it and it wouldn’t seem like much of a “dream”.
I keep looking to have enough guts to do something that might not work. The phrase “this might not work” is something I try to say on a regular basis after reading the great books and posts from Seth Godin.
Another question I try to ask is, “Who can I impact today and how can I do it in a way that in four years from now, they’ll be glad I did?”. This seems to be a good way to discover a pace that balances getting things done today, with reaching the dream in the end.
People get discouraged and put off chasing after their dreams because they keep waiting for everything to be okay so that they can start. I think if your goal is for everything to be okay, that’s a mistake. It’s never going to be a perfect time to start. Just go.
Combine dreaming big with shipping a small part of it every day, and I think you’ll have a formula for success.