There’s a book that’s a staple in many self-improvement libraries called “The Magic of Thinking Big” by David Schwartz. The text on the front of the book says, “Acquire the secrets of success… Achieve everything you’ve ever wanted: Personal Property * Financial Security * The Ideal Job, Satisfying Relationships * A Rewarding and Enjoyable Life.” Who wouldn’t want all that? It’s actually a very good book, but the cover is like many of the infomercials I see when I’m on the treadmill in the morning. “Lose Weight Now!” “Fitness Secrets Revealed!” “Get Rich Quickly!” are pretty much the theme of any one of a number of morning long-form commericials.
Each of them promise that if you’ll just do this one thing, your life will be amazingly better. Maybe, and it must happen for some, because they have lots of happy customers touting the benefits of the program…and they’ll even guarantee the results! Knowing that 90% of dieters fail to reach their goals, and that most are embarrassed to admit that something didn’t work…that they won’t take advantage of that money-back guarantee. That’s how the snake-oil salesman make their money – by selling something that costs next to nothing to produce, for an inflated price, to people who are eager to find a shortcut.
There are ways to be more efficient about reaching a goal…..but what I’ve found is that there are few real shortcuts. Most rewards require a lot of work and focus….and usually a number of failed attempts before becoming an ‘overnight’ success. That’s why while I enjoy ‘motivational’ books and stories….I’m just as fascinated by people who are brave enough to risk multiple failures in order to reach a bigger goal. Each time I’ve tried and failed at something, I’ve tried to learn from the attempt. Even if I learn nothing more than not to do it that way again…..at least I’ve learned enough to modify my approach and get just a little bit further the next time.
One of the downsides of the ‘motivation’ industry is what happens after that initial rush of the event. There are lots of people who can whip a crowd or corporate audience into a whirlwind of activity and good intentions…..but what happens two weeks, three weeks, six months down the road? Those giant, earth shattering resolutions and plans quietly fade away, because nobody likes to admit that something didn’t work.
So, thinking big is good in concept – by stepping outside of your comfort zone, by attempting new things, you can go further than just staying comfortable in your current situation. Sure, you don’t grow or move forward, but you don’t risk failure, either. If you over-reach, you also run the risk of failing and being embarrassed and losing your ‘motivation’. My take is that if your motivation goes away at the first failure, then it must not have been that strong in the first place.
So, think big….but try thinking just a LITTLE bit bigger. Sure, you might take two steps forward and one step back……but that’s still one small step forward…which might just end up being one giant leap into your future.