I’ve had the good fortune of being friends with some of the most successful people in the country. Not just people with large bank accounts, but people who have been trailblazers – who by the sheer virtue of their will have accomplished things that most people can only dream about. As I have said before, the one thing that differentiates them from everyone else is their uncanny ability to think bigger. It’s really not that they are smarter or more talented, they just learned at some point in their lives how to play in a bigger game than the rest of the world. However, I’ve also learned that thinking big is not enough.
As member of the real estate community, we are always being told to think bigger. We’re taught to ask ourselves, “If I closed 25 deals last year, why can’t I close 50 or 100 deals next year”. I’ll tell you why, because closing twice as many deals will probably mean working twice as hard – and most people aren’t willing to do that. While I agree that people limit their personal and professional growth by failing to set large enough goals, very few people truly understand what thinking big actually entails. Most people believe that thinking big is all about pushing yourself to make more money, and while that can be part of it, approaching your goals with that kind of limited mindset will not likely produce much in the way of results.
Thinking big requires crystal clear vision and a fundamental belief in one’s own abilities. Having crystal clear vision begins with setting goals that are large and specific enough to truly inspire you to action. Again, your vision must be clear. You also need to explicitly understand why your goals are important to you. Setting a goal to earn more money just for the sake of it, won’t help you summon the necessary focus and resilience to actually achieve that goal. You need to first do some soul searching and be honest with yourself about why this goal is important to you and why you would be willing to forgo almost everything else in order to achieve it. Thinking big also requires sacrifice and laser focus. Most people fall short there as well. In today’s world, everyone wants a magic bullet, but there is no such thing – there are no shortcuts. The most successful people I know are also among the hardest working. Thomas Edison said, “Opportunity is missed because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work”. If you aren’t willing to put in the work, you might as well stop right there. You’ll never achieve big things.
Finally, thinking big requires a belief in one’s own abilities. You have to believe in yourself. This is easier said than done. The best advice I can give to someone who lacks confidence in their abilities, is prepare better and surround yourself with people who are successful. Confidence is a state of mind, but it usually is based on some degree of reality. If you don’t believe you have what it takes to achieve your goals you have two choices; choose different more realistic goals or get yourself better prepared. The actor Will Smith was quoted as saying: “The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me is I’m not afraid to die on a treadmill. I will not be out-worked, period”. If you have that kind of mentality, thinking big will be a natural biproduct.
A farmer and his son had a beloved stallion who helped the family earn a living. One day, the horse ran away and their neighbors said “Your horse ran away, what terrible luck!”. The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.” A few days later the horse returned home, leading a few wild mares back to the farm as well. The neighbors shouted out “Your horse has returned and brought several horses home with him. What great luck!” and the farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”
I’ve written about this in other iterations. I’ve talked about finding your rhythm, and the importance of letting things come to you, not forcing things, and then riding the momentum when you have the wind at your back. The point of it all is that success is not linear. Progress doesn’t follow a straight line. For most people, the journey is long and winding. It looks more like a stairway or a hockey stick.