How to dream big and not get in your own way

December 9, 2013 | By Neil Ducoff | 1 Comment

dream_bigAs kids, we dream about what we will be when we grow up without restriction. Our imaginations are free to explore whatever excites us and feels right. We dream of being cowboys, astronauts, movie stars, doctors, action heroes and more. As we age, our dreams narrow in focus to career and life goals. Reality and life have a funny and most efficient way of taking dreams off the table – or filtering how big and how bold our new dreams can be. As leader of your own company, allowing your dreams to be stifled or snuffed out is the precursor to stagnation and, even worse, becoming irrelevant.

Dreams are your BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) for you and your company. Dreams fuel your curiosity about the opportunities that exist beyond the horizon. Dreams keep you innovating and perfecting. Dreams feed your passion to stand out in a crowded marketplace of ordinary and they keep you striving to achieve your full potential. Why would anyone want to dream less – or not at all?

Here are my no-compromise thoughts on dreaming … and dreaming big:

  • Status quo is boring – and it just plain sucks: It’s the journey of turning a dream into reality that’s exciting. It stretches and tests your ability to lead a company to a better place … that elusive next level. Hang around one place too long and you get comfortable. You lower your guard and attention to detail. One leak turns into many. Your company’s culture gets fat and lazy. Congratulations! You are officially a one-hit wonder and after a while, your story gets old. Change is relentless. Dreams, and the journey to achieving those dreams, keep you and your company at the forefront of change. Dream big.
  • Stand, believe and fight for something worthy: I believe in Team-Based Pay. I have for over 35 years, but not everyone does … and that’s OK. I also believe in No-Compromise Leadership, systems, financial literacy, structure and accountability. And I’m deeply passionate about the things I believe in and stand for. That’s why I fight long and hard for my dream of helping leaders and owners create extraordinary companies. Strategies is my dream. Actually, it’s a progression of many dreams. It’s been a 20+ years journey … and an incredible ride. What dream do you stand, believe and fight for every day?
  • No one follows a dud leader: How would you like your tenure as a leader to be labeled a “dud”? You had a dream, lit the fuse and nothing happened. Starting a company isn’t hard. Growing your dream into something extraordinary that can endure – something worth a boatload of money – that’s the hard work that defines a true No-Compromise Leader. Dud leaders don’t dream much, and when they do, they’re usually the first to give up on their dreams. If dud leaders aren’t willing to bet on themselves, why would anyone else? People quit dud leaders – not companies.
  • Put a man on the moon: Imagine how those NASA engineers and astronauts felt when President Kennedy made his memorable address before Congress in 1961. Kennedy proclaimed a national goal of landing a man on the moon and bringing him safely back to earth before the end of the decade. The technology gap in 1961 was essentially as big as the quarter-million mile gap between the earth and the moon. Methodically, the gap was closed until, on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong put the first human footprint on the surface of the moon. I still get chills from that story. What’s your dream mission to spark the collective imagination of your team?
  • Dreams are stepping-stones: My company, Strategies, isn’t an exact reflection of my original dream. I started Strategies to publish a monthly business magazine and do business seminars. The magazine was a stepping-stone. The Internet didn’t exist in 1993 when I started. Print magazines are expensive and slow at delivering content. My cherished magazine became a buggy whip and had to be retired. We became a coaching and training company. I starting writing books. New dreams replaced old ones. I am so proud of my company and my team, but it was a progression of dreams that represent what Strategies is today. Don’t stand on one stepping-stone too long. Dream big!
  • There’s never a right time: Chasing a Big Hairy Audacious Goal is a serious commitment that always requires taking that brave first step – one that many talk about but never take. Its like people that talk about writing a book “one day.” They can talk about that book for years, but the dream of writing a book will remain a dream until the work of writing begins. There will never be a right time to chase your dreams. There will never be enough time, money or freedom from obligations. Excuses, fear of the unknown or fear of failure will kill your dreams. Go for it … life is short.

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Categories: Business Builders , Leadership , Monday Morning Wake-Up , No-Compromise Leadership

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