Successful people think BIG
A significant percentage of my clients go through the following steps: They hire me as a coach to fix something, and then bring their business to the next level. About two to three years into it, things are wonderful. There is more money than ever, and since the business doesn’t require much day to day involvement anymore, there is loads of time for the family and for playing golf. So they quit coaching. “Thank you for all you have taught me”.
And yet, I know, and they know, they could easily grow their business dramatically beyond this point, with even more money to do great things with, and even more time to do what they want to do. Yet they won’t.
They have grown beyond the point that they are comfortable. They have hit their limits on the fifth character dimension… They just were not willing to think big.
Character dimensions 5: Orientation towards Increase
It is Human to have a drive to ‘grow’ into more than you are at any given moment. It is in fact something that many computer games try to explore: they give you a ‘best score’ that you try to beat, to set a new record. This drive towards ‘increase’ is the fifth dimension in our Character. What is put to use; grows (muscle, brains, skills). If you do not put your talents to use, you will lose them in the end (remember the parable in the Bible about burying the talent instead of putting it you use?).
Note the difference with the previous dimension: fixing things also makes things better, but it makes things better that already exist, they are ‘repaired’. Growing things makes things stronger than they originally were. You can be a great problem solver, but not a grower. Managers are typically good ‘maintainers’, while entrepreneurs are ‘growers’. It is the ‘Fixers’ that excel in character dimension 4, vs. the ‘Dreamers’ that excel in character dimension 5.
To ‘score’ really high on this dimension you must
- Have a willingness to grow,
- master FEAR,
- Learn to take risk versus gambling,
- Avoid unhealthy growth (also includes no rest, and no celebration of achievement),
- put time and money into growth,
- invite outside pressure in your life (like a coach, other successful people),
- and grow others.
Let’s explore these elements of this dimension where the successful think big.
Having a willingness to grow is the opposite of opposing anything that would risk you getting out of your comfort zone. These are the people that settle for ‘good enough’, versus the people on the other end that believe there is always room to improve. Always have ‘personal bests’ to beat.
The ONLY failure in business is the failure to Participate. Failure, is to stop, or even never start, trying.
Falling down never stopped children from developing. But getting yelled at, criticized, and put down can stop them for life.
The biggest obstacle in this dimension for most people is the concept of FEAR. The fear of what could go wrong if you make the jump into the unknown. The ‘what if I make the wrong decision’, ‘what if it doesn’t work out?’ The fear center in our brain will, when stimulated, create a ‘fight or flight’ thought pattern, and that is why people seem to freeze when they have to make a decision. They hate this feeling. Interestingly enough, when observed under a brain scan, exactly the same part of the brain lights up when confronted with real imminent danger (like being confronted with a huge shark) as when confronted with a decision to take a significant business risk. The shark is real fear, with the business risk is more likely that the fear is more like:
FEAR: False Expectations Appearing Real
‘False expectations appearing real’ is usually the fear of being criticized, ridiculed, or loosing relations. For the fear part in our brain, it is the same as the fear of being eaten alive…
This primitive animal part of our brain was wonderful when we were hunter gatherers who could at any moment change from hunter into the hunted. But for making business decisions it is hopelessly primitive.
Not being able to see the difference between taking a Risk versus Gambling is another flaw in this dimension of character. “It feels good, so I did it” is a gamble. Properly investigating all the pro’s and cons, then weighing them as careful as possible, followed by the rational decision that based on the information you have, this is the right thing to do, is taking a risk. Risks are measured, gambles as gut feelings.
To put it in another way: Risk means you do something that has the possibility to have a bad outcome, and you embrace that possibility and are okay with that. Essential is that you have to put yourself into the position of responsibility. It typically is an expression of a way that was already grown into and learned, but applied to a new way or arena. It happens when a point has been reached where what you are doing can no longer contain what you have become. It is time for the next step.
Gambling is when you have never done a deal of any kind, or only a few, and yet you bet the farm and the family’s security on somehow hitting it big.
People who grow are not afraid of getting into a position of exposure, but they are not stupid and risk in increments. Start small, master that, and move to the next step. If someone cannot take the negative outcome, it is a wish, a gamble.
I coached a transportation company. One day I was told they had decided to acquire a small competitor, mainly to take over their big truck. The thing was old, and on the long distance, interstate trips, tended to break down a lot. The costs of repairs ate more than all gross profit it brought in.
Acquiring that company was done on a gamble. It was never thought through how a 25 year old truck with an unknown maintenance record would hold up on trips of several thousand miles. Price increases that I suggested, as the margins looked horrible, were ignored for a long time as “I just feel that our clients will not accept that”.
The owner loved to grow and thought big, but these types of gambles, acting on gut feelings with no data to support the decision kept happening, and played a big role in the demise of the company. By then I had given up to be their coach.
Unhealthy growth is when growth becomes a world on itself. No rest, no play time, always that feeling of ‘never enough’. It is the type of people that can actually build an empire, but with a wake of broken personal relationships left behind, as everything, including every waking hour, has to be sacrificed on the altar of further growth. Once a goal, or a nice toy, is acquired, it immediately loses the attraction it once head. There is the next thing that is not acquired yet.
In biology we call unhealthy growth for the sake of growth ’cancer’. It can be the cause of a burn out.
Therefore, one end of the extreme in this dimension is the lack of motivation; the other end is the driven personality that gets never ‘there’, because there is no ‘there’ that is good enough to be of value. Related to this is the capability to rest and recreate. There is a reason why the concept of the Sabbath exists since ancient times! Some people are incapable of rest, to feel good about themselves they have to be constantly producing, if they don’t, unresolved conflicts emerge, feelings of emptiness, fear and other bothersome states bubble to the surface.. Since they struggle to regenerate, they will ultimately become linear until even that cannot be maintained anymore.
Of course there are people who agree with all of the above. They will assure you that they want to grow, learn new skills, and reach higher targets. But the moment you ask how much time and money they are willing to invest in reaching these new heights it gets quiet.
“Putting money into growth? What? These courses are expensive! Hiring a business coach? Of course I like to grow, but that is a great commitment. I wait a while till I have more time and money to spend.”
It is like a patient that states that he wants to get well first before he can visit the doctor. If you take a look at your calendar does it show that you have the courage to leave it all to develop yourself? Meaning, have you reserved times away from the firefighting and making money now to work on your futre?
Growth needs energy infusion & it needs a force or principle that shapes its growth. Inviting outside pressure in your life is therefore a sure way to grow. Think about it, when you had a boss who was looking over your shoulder, where you working harder than when he was not in the room? In some ways, inviting this outside pressure is like the dimension of truth, it creates awareness that things can improve. Technically this topic belongs in the 8th dimension of BE, ‘your environment’, so let’s get to the point here. One of the best suggestions you can give anyone who wants to be more successful is: ‘Surround yourself with more successful people.’
Do you only talk to people who believe as you do? Someone who thinks he ‘knows it all’, who is not exposed to new experiences and sources of growth, is caught in a ‘closed’ system: no new energy.
The number one reason for lack of growth in people’s lives is the absence of joining forces outside themselves who push them to grow – instead, they keep telling themselves that they will somehow by willpower or commitment, make themselves grow. That never works.
Get a coach, join a group, get a counselor, get into a community of growth
Successful people Place themselves in situations that demand more of them than they can deliver
Lastly, the drive to grow others is part of the higher level of achievement in this character dimension. True leadership is when you grow other leaders. And the longest lasting success in any organization is when the great leader grew other leaders. It is one of the strongest sign of someone fits the ‘Think Big’ category.
This focus on others will start to blend with the sixth dimension of character, the dimension of Transcendence, which will be the topic of our next blog.