“Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right!” – Henry Ford
Like most things in our life, the size of our thinking is just a habit. And if we are going to be thinking anyways, we might as well think big!
Somewhere in our past, some of us got into the habit of thinking small while some of us were fortunate enough to get into the habit of thinking big, or at least bigger. Like any habit, we continue to apply it unconsciously until we don’t even consider other ways or even are aware there is a better way. Small thinking is like that, just a habit. We get used to the idea of thinking about life, accomplishments, and the world around us based on parameters or limitations, and often are satisfied with focusing on a goal or action, without considering the scale of that goal or action.
Small thinking is destructive, time consuming, and a waste of human potential for three reasons. Firstly, by thinking small we are not pushing the boundaries of what may be possible and often settle for a much-reduced accomplishment without even knowing what we truly could have accomplished. Secondly, we infect those around us, often the people we care most about, with little thoughts and perpetuating intergenerational bad habits which may prevent others from accomplishing great things. Finally, small thinking robs us of the obstacles and challenges that are a necessary part of personal growth and character-building in ways for us to truly become our future best.
I love the concept of thinking big because it is among the very few tools we have to change our perspective, which is the best way to change our thinking, which ultimately drives all of our actions. Thinking Big literally forces us to think at a higher level and forces our neurons and brain patterns to change, opening up new possibilities that may have always been in front of us, but which we could not see. It literally removes mental blinders, and massively broadens our view of the world.
If you want to develop the habit of thinking big, it requires breaking the small habit, changing perspective, and finally replacing it with the habit of thinking big.
It takes awareness, a different perspective, new habits and then reinforcement of the new habits.
Awareness: Watch yourself throughout the day. Yes, that’s right, have an out-of-body experience and become a third party to your own actions; look for those triggers that may cause you to think small and the habits that reinforce that thinking. For instance, you may be engaged in small thinking when related to money habits, or under the influence of certain friends or family, or when doing something for yourself, or sabotaging career success. There are many different possibilities; the key is to become aware of what is driving the small thinking.
Different Perspective: Look for ways to massively change your perspective and then act. For instance, I love the idea of changing an environment or places and people. Go to newer and better restaurants. Travel more. Take different routes on your commute. Find new social circles. Try a different church or club. The point is to actively seek new perspectives that will break the patterns of the past while making new connections for future thinking.
New Habits: Build new thinking big habits by asking “What if?” and “Why not?” questions more, while dropping cynicism and the “It won’t work”, or “I’ve tried that” mentality. These new questions will at least open your mind to the possibilities at no risk. Then start taking big actions! Every day, do something different and bigger. It may start modestly, but quickly you will find that your thinking big becomes a habit.
Reinforcing The Big Habit: Finally, it is critical to surround yourself with people in your life that will lift you up out of your lethargy and bring your thinking to a higher level. This action, combined with a daily focus on bigger thinking, will reinforce the behaviour and prevent backsliding. Don’t wait for the SEE, or Significant Emotional Event, to drive big thinking behaviour. Do something each and every day, reinforced by those around you, arousing the passion of achieving big goals and do something worthwhile for those that you love.
Eamonn has a B. Eng. (Electrical) from Lakehead University, MBA (Finance) from University of Toronto, and has completed Executive Education at Stanford University Graduate School of Business. He lives in Vancouver, Canada. Follow him on twitter @EamonnPercy