I’m Glad I didn’t Dream Big
I’m glad I didn’t dream big when it came to writing the Leadership Freak blog. I didn’t set out to write a popular leadership blog. I set out to be helpful to as many people as I could.
Big dreams are heavy burdens.
I frequently talk with frustrated people with big dreams who feel stuck.
3 big problems with big dreams:
- Big dreams scoff at small steps. They aren’t big enough.
- Big dreams say current opportunities are too small. Compared to the big dream of leading an organization, volunteering at a nonprofit seems like a waste of time.
- Big dreams make day to day behaviors feel insignificant.
Big dreams make average people feel small. But, if the statistics are accurate, most of us are average.
12 alternatives to big dreams:
Powerful impact is a combination of talent, hard work, opportunity, and good fortune. Rather than dreaming big …
- Fuel optimistic discontent. Be thankful for current opportunities and dissatisfied at the same time. Believe you’re able to serve more people than you’re currently serving.
- Live generously. Self-centered living limits impact. Pour into others. Don’t worry about filling everyone’s cup. Just empty yours.
- Follow your energy. Serve others in ways that create energy for you.
- Listen to others.
- Work hard. A life that matters goes beyond watching TV and playing video games.
- Do what you can with what you have, right now.
- Set goals that contribute to people. Goals that center on power, prestige, and prosperity may have their place, but real success always centers on people.
- Hold yourself to high standards.
- Rest and restore. Challenging yourself isn’t about being frazzled.
- Try things you haven’t tried.
- Connect with people who are making a difference.
- If you aren’t sure what to do, help someone who knows what to do.
What are some down sides of dreaming big?
How might leaders enhance their impact in the world?
Dan a couple of thoughts on a boldly titled and very good post.
1. Often people get all hung up on how a project or a new job or new relationship begins. This is because their initial vision or hope is bigger than the reality. I tell people that it is not the beginning of things that are important, or even the middle, but how they end up!
2. In this regard, I would add that you may have started Leadership Freak with modest expectations but you are moving onto a great, in the far future ending with a lot of fans.
Brad James, http://www.bradszootales.com
Thanks Brad. Thank you for your insights and kind words. “initial vision or hope is bigger than the reality,” is a wonderful observation. On one hand we need that bigness. On the other, it’s a heavy burden.
Hi Dan, good thought provoking post. Everyone is different and has different expectations and different distances to their own personal horizon. For some people being able to join the dots or connect the steps in the chain to achieve the dream is one of the hardest tasks – developing a realistic initial pathway that you can step down. Getting that linkage for some is important.
Thanks for the alternates you have published. As a leader they will be of use in many circumstances.
Thanks Brian. I really enjoy your focus on connecting the dots. Work backwards from the big picture to small steps. Very helpful.
Love your 6, 7 & 8 🙂
For me it’s the impact of the dream.. answering “will this make s difference in people’s lives?” and the ability to break the big dream into manageable, measurable steps. For the second part I seek help from people with specific competences, at our company they are called Financial Officer, and Technical Officer.
When I run out of fuel (sadly I do) I envision those who’s lives will be changed.. (not a pile of $$, an ego boost, or Stuff)
I regularly try to do your #11 connect with others who have traveled a similar road. Sometimes it’s helpful, but it’s always informative.
I remember I’m “in process” and that the people I work with also are, as much as we love the company, the people are the real big deal.
Thanks Ken. Your last paragraph gives hope, especially if we hold ourselves to high standards. I’m glad to be on the journey with you.
Thought provoking Dan! Dreaming big, heck dreaming at all gives us a sense of hope. Sometimes, dreams are plans in the making while other times, well, they are just simply dreams. They can be a thing of spontaneity or they can be something we envision over a long period of time. Dreams can be unique to us and only apply to our own situations or they can be something special that other people can also see.
Dreams can be something of a mystery while at other times specific and purpose-driven. It is when we apply meaning to them that dreams begin to take shape. Once we start to feel them, they start sharing space in our reality as a kind of road map if you will. The longer we spend time on the journey of the dream, the more we put confidence in seeing it to fruition.
What we don’t really plan on is how others affect our dreams. It is hard enough conquering internal obstacles but when you add-in the resistance and detrimental effects of external forces, many dreams come to a screeching halt. I takes true conviction and belief in your dreams to see them through. I am glad that you saw your dream through!
Very well said Pardner.
Thanks Brent. The impact of others to either fuel our energy or drain it, is powerful. Sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish the two. The voice of reason may feel draining to someone who is consumed with a dream.
Brilliant stuff, Dan!
Good morning Dan;
The problem with ‘BIG-DREAMS’ is most people forget to set the small goals it takes to realize ‘The Big Dream’. This is where No. #3 comes into play. Without setting the smaller goals that are required to reach our lofty destinations we humans do tend to forget about the mudane day to day things that can often play a large role in determining the sucsess of the big dream.
It’s unfortunate, but your statement, “big dreams make average people feel small”, is absolute truth. Therefor do not be surprised when freinds and colleages think, and say your ‘Wacked’, and that theres no way this absurd idea is guna fly. Thats what average people who are not interested in challenging themselves do.
I have witsnessed associates, or so-called freinds of outside the box thinkers support their freinds efforts (in private), yet publically poke fun at your outragious agenda. These are NOT your true freinds. This is why No # 11 is SO important. You must connect with like minded people who ARE making a difference. Surround yourself with people who’ve been where you are, but have since reached the goals and dreams you aspire to.
Without BIG DREAMERS, it’s doubtful we’d have ever put a man on the moon.
Thanks SGT. Your first sentence is so powerful. “The problem with ‘BIG-DREAMS’ is most people forget to set the small goals it takes to realize ‘The Big Dream’.” A dream without a next step is a fancy anchor.
The “man on the moon” is a great illustration of the power dreams have to focus our attention and energy.
Excellent post. When I first saw the title, I was a bit skeptical. After all, not having dreams bigger than ourselves doesn’t seem like the right way to go. But then I read the post and I saw a message that spoke some very significant truths. Living intentionally in the moment and making the most of every opportunity (e.g. Points 1, 5, and 6). We cannot give what we do not have, but we have more than we think (e.g. Point 2). You are absolutely correct, and I have experienced this frustration in my own life. When we dream big and focus only on that final destination, we will miss much along the way. Thanks for the post!
Thank you, Dan. I needed this today!
Based on the title I thought I might disagree with the post, but no, I completely agree. Wanting ongoing professional success does not have to be an all or nothing situation relative to general happiness and fulfillment in all aspects of life. Great post. I have read for years but never taken the time to comment before, so this one moved me to action!
Welcome to the community of ‘Freaks’ Heather!!!
Excellent article! Back in the nineties, my cousin, who had been an average student, was putting muscle into his dream. He invited others in and “infected them” with the virus (his dream). He knew no one can build their dream totally on their own. the “others” bought in and eventually it became a huge non profit with a two million dollar plus budget that exists to help serve the youth of North Omaha. My cousin was smart enough to realize when it was time to step away. He knew the sometimes your job is to take your organization from A to D and then let some one else take it from D to M. It takes a lot of humility and wisdom to know this and he
had it. Today it continues under new leadership, right on course, still growing- just like the original dream.