Can Thinking Big Be Bad For You?
Yes and no is the short answer. But in an attempt to make this blog a little more interesting than just seven words, I shall explain why it can be.
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; therefore 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 up the performance of the employees. I copied this strategy myself when I was running teams to peak performance to great effect too. 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 thinking big.
However, we also had our monthly targets too 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.
Thinking big can be bad for you when that is all you do. If you have the goal of being number 1 in your field of expertise 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. Fight promoters know this only too well. A boxer setting out on his journey to the world crown (Or an aging 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.
Yes that sounds logical until I ask you the question, 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 achieve 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.
They plan their vacations, parties, weddings and the like with military precision. Yet when it comes to their life goals they seem to fail.
When I set myself a lofty outcome, I quickly break it down into chunks that I can achieve 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 take action immediately. I will not freeze or feel overwhelmed by such a big goal.
And that is when thinking big is great for you.