Thoughts on Excellence Free E-Newsletter Series
Volume 14, Issue No. 11b
March 15, 2016
By Dan Coughlin
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Most people I know are busy.
They are busy with work, busy raising kids from newborns to college-age, busy doing volunteer activities, and busy trying to squeeze in some time to exercise. It almost seems they have no time to dream, except maybe to dream about a special vacation or a new house or where their kids might go to college. There seems to be no time to dream of what they could become as a person or do with their lives other than what they are already doing.
Here are five steps to think a little bigger and a little broader.
Start With a Clear Purpose
Tim Cook was interviewed in the March 1, 2016 issue of Fortune Magazine. He is the CEO of Apple, Inc. and his company was named the Most Admired Company in the World for the ninth year in a row.
The question was, “Critics slammed Apple for its flat fiscal-first-quarter performance. What is your reaction?”
Cook said, “I’m good at blocking out the noise. I come back to, Are we doing the right things? Are we remembering our North Star? Are we focused on making the best products that really help people enrich their lives in some way? And we’re doing all those things.”
I love the clarity of his answer. He knows why Apple exists.
What is your purpose in any aspect of your life? Step out of your busyness and just reflect for any area of your life on this question, “What is my purpose?” Effective dreaming starts with answering that purposeful question. Your purpose is what gets you started and keeps you going.
Mentally Reach Out One Layer Beyond Where You Are Right Now
Think about who you are right now. I know this takes time and you’re busy, but you have to start somewhere.
Is there anything about yourself that you would like to improve or change that fits with your purpose? Maybe you want to be more patient or more caring or more disciplined or more creative or more daring. Whatever it is, just write it down.
Is there anything you want to do or to become in your life that you are not already on the path to doing or becoming? I have a friend who wanted to learn karate. Now he’s on a path to getting a black belt. Step out of your busy mode and write down one thing you want to do or become.
What is one layer beyond where you are right now that you could reach for?
If you want to write a book, don’t focus on having a #1 bestseller for 100 consecutive weeks. Instead dream about having a clear story concept that you can explain to other people. When you get there, dream of having a plot with characters and specific plot twists thrown in. After that dream of having fifty pages written.
Just reach out one layer at a time on what you want to become or what you want to do.
Let Go of Your Baggage
Exactly forty years ago Wayne Dyer wrote the book, Your Erroneous Zones. It went on to sell more than 30 million copies. I read it in 1992 and reread it this past month. It could have been called, Let Go of Your Baggage. It’s about all the stuff we tell ourselves that gets in the way of us ever reaching beyond where we are right now. Let go of what you were told as a kid that is holding you back. Let go of being mad about something that happened ten years ago. Let go of the guilt about your mistakes in the past and worries about your future. Let go of the baggage and allow yourself to dream a little bigger and a little broader about what you can become and do in the future.
Take Baby Steps
This is the absolute key to moving a dream forward. Take a step. Just a baby step. Take one step. Do something in the direction of what you want to become or do in the future. Do not try to take twenty steps today. Do not try to buy up a bunch of steps by investing a small fortune in your dream. Just take one step toward it.
CEAD (Consistent Effort Applied Daily)
Now that you’re moving just apply consistent effort every day. Little by little by little. Day after day after day.
I know of two families who started a real estate business in the basement of an office building in 1980. They took a step and then another step and another step and now their business is on two different continents in over thirty countries in Europe, Canada, and the United States.
There was a man who opened a frozen custard stand in 1929 and steadily step by step grew his business until his son took it over and now it is well known by millions of people. I asked the son how he did it. He said, “I just kept working at it one day at a time. I never moved away from my dad’s idea of serving a quality product, and little by little it grew and grew.”
Please don’t ever underestimate the power of a baby step. It’s all that matters in making a dream a reality. Study Walt Disney and Oprah and Steve Jobs and anyone else who has ever created something incredible. You will find a history of baby steps taken day after day.
I know you’re busy. You’re really, really busy. This will just take a few minutes. Take out a sheet of paper and write down your purpose in any area of your life. Think about where you are at right now in that area of your life and mentally reach out one layer beyond where you are right now and visualize what you could become or do. Write that down. Now let go of all the reasons why you can’t make progress and just take one baby step in that direction. Tomorrow take another baby step. Do that every day. In his 1959 book titled The Magic of Thinking Big, David Schwartz wrote, “There are countless vacancies waiting there for people like you who dare to think big.” I agree. You get there by just thinking a little bigger and a little broader every day.
Republishing ArticlesMy newsletters, Thoughts on Excellence, have been republished in approximately 40 trade magazines, on-line publications, and internal publications for businesses, universities, and not-for-profit organizations over the past 20+ years. If you would like to republish all or part of my monthly articles, please send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org with the name of the article you want in the subject heading. I will send you the article in a word document.