Think big the gurus say and think realistically say some others. But is thinking big bad for you?

Yes and no is the short answer. But in trying to make this blog a little more interesting than just seven words, I shall attempt to explain why.

We are all told to dream big and have a grand vision in life or business and I think we should. As the great essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson said,

“We quite often fall a little short of the mark we set; so we should aim a little higher”

(Well, that is as close as I can remember what he said). That makes sense to me.

The business giant Jack Welch, who turned the fortunes of General Electric around, used stretch targets to raise performance in the company and get better results.

I copied this strategy myself when I was running teams to peak performance to great effect.

In fact, for the industry I was in, and based on the number of sales generated per month, the team went on to set world records.

That was because I was thinking big.

However, we also had our monthly targets and not just the stretch target we were aiming for. Which incidentally, as Mr. Emerson says, “We fell a little short of the mark” and never quite reached the goal in mind.

But if we hadn’t set such a lofty outcome we would never have reached the world record status.

When Thinking Big is The Only Thinking

When all you do is think big is when it is damaging.

If you have the goal of being number 1 in your field of ability but do not have this goal broken down into smaller pieces, or bite-size chunks as I like to call them, you will feel so overwhelmed that the lofty goal will actually cause your brain to freeze.

A sense of inertia and in some cases mental panic takes place inside and the outcome is rarely, if ever, achieved.

You see winning gives the mind momentum (And lights up the motivational centre deep in the brain) and spurs you on to the next win.

Once achieved, each bite-size chunk you can highlight on your list as ‘done’, is a small win in the eyes of your brain.

Fight promoters know this strategy all too well.

A boxer setting out on his journey to the world crown (Or an ageing one making a comeback) will be given opponents who are really no match and the bout ends in a convincing and expected victory. The promoters know that this will encourage the fighter for the next fight.

So What about you?

  • What plan do you have to get where you want to go?
  • Have you mapped it out clearly?
  • Do you have bite-size chunks that you can meet in the next few weeks and months that will please your brain and get it into the winning habit?

So many people I meet say a resounding no to this.

Yet they plan their vacations, parties, weddings and the like with military precision. Yet when it comes to their life goals they seem to fail.

Putting it Together

When I set myself a big outcome, I quickly break it down into chunks that I can meet within a few days and weeks. (I write them out like an organ chart of a company). This spurs me on as I start ticking them off one by one with a yellow highlighter.

And it doesn’t matter how small these steps are because they ensure I act immediately. I will not freeze or feel overwhelmed by such a big goal.

These small but powerful little wins, gets my brain producing addictive and happy endorphins making me want to crave more. To fulfil this unseen desire, I all have to do is keep achieving more of my bite-size chunks.

When piled on top of each other, small chunks can results in big achievements.

And that is when thinking big is great for you.