What keeps you from thinking big? Chances are, you had an audacious dream when you were younger, and a big idea of what your life was supposed to be like. If you’re like most people, you slowly downgraded that dream as you grew up. You decided to keep your expectations low so that you didn’t have to experience disappointment and failure. Yep, I said it—the “f” word. Failure. That’s probably why you stopped thinking big—the fear of failure.
What if I told you that almost every failure is caused not by thinking too big, but by not thinking big enough? You are meant to have an audacious life! You are meant to be, do and have everything you want! We are not meant to settle for mediocrity. We are meant to be bold, daring, and audacious!
Finding an audacious purpose takes practice. When we were little, the big people in our lives didn’t generally support us in thinking big. Although well-meaning, they tried to keep us from being disappointed or experiencing failure, so they coached us into mediocrity so that our pure, child-like minds wouldn’t feel pain. However, those same pure minds wanted excitement, accomplishment, and audacity!
Now that we’ve conditioned ourselves out of thinking big, we aren’t used to asking ourselves how great we can be. Quite the contrary, we spend much of our lives lowering our expectations and “being realistic.” There’s something in you that’s crying for more, however. True success doesn’t come from shrinking. Benjamin Disraeli, the prime minister of Great Britain in the 1860s and 1870s, said “Success is the child of audacity.” Audacity is defined as boldness and daring.
These are changing times, and many businesses, relationships, and situations are in flux. It is human nature to shrink back, revert to what we know, and stay in our comfort zone. When we feel fear, we want to surround ourselves with what is familiar and return to doing things the way they have worked in the past. At the risk of sounding like a cliché, this is the exact time to step out of our comfort zone.
How do we think big when our first impulse is to get small? First, find the big idea. Ask yourself the question, “What have I always wanted to do?” You’ll know it when you find it. It’s the one that makes your heart sing, makes you tingle, takes your breath away. It probably wasn’t the first time you had this big idea. It might be something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t had the courage. Don’t censor yourself! See what comes, the bigger the better!
Second, fight the urge to downgrade. You are probably in a well-established habit of immediately retreating from the bold position you’ve claimed. How often do you think of a great idea and then talk yourself out of it? Resist the temptation! Once you find the big idea, write it down, tell your trusted friends, and begin to make plans. If you don’t start turning it into a reality as soon as you get it, you will be likely to make so many modifications to it that your brilliant idea will become nothing more than a passing hobby.
Finally, face your fears. The reason we don’t think big is because we are afraid. One of my favorite quotes is from author Marianne Williamson: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.” Figure out why you are afraid of being your brilliant, magnificent self. Who told you that you couldn’t? What happened in your childhood that made you believe the worst? Investigate these things and work to heal them.
One of the benefits of this extended period of social distancing and economic upheaval is that it has given us all a chance to regroup and perhaps start with a clean slate. Why not take this opportunity to think bigger? Remember, nothing great ever came from thinking small. Go for what you really want!