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How to Think Big Every Day

Think big

“Think big” towers above most other advice you will hear on how to succeed. In just two words, it lays out a plan for achieving your highest goals. The greatest challenge is to find ways to think big today, not someday. Here’s how to make sure that happens.

Related article: Life is About Choices and the Decisions We Make

Think Big Secret #1

Seize opportunities you don’t think you can handle. When people in authority ask you to take on a challenge you don’t think you can manage, say yes. It means they see abilities in you that you have missed. You will prove yourself and make a big impression—fast. Example: The late Katharine Graham, probably the most powerful woman ever in American media, started life as an upper-class girl who wanted a society life. She married the editor of the Washington Post and her prospects seemed set. But then her husband killed himself in 1963, and the Post board asked her to take over the paper. Her first response was, “Who, me?” But she threw herself into it, built the Post into a world-class paper, acquired Newsweek, and even won a Pulitzer Prize over the course of a long career. The message? When opportunity knocks, answer the door.

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Think Big Secret #2

Put yourself in situations that make you nervous. Seek out high-stakes circumstances that challenge you because they promise the greatest growth. Example: Terrie Williams, who founded her own public relations firm represents giants of sport and entertainment. She started her company by walking up to Miles Davis and saying she wanted to represent him. He became her first client, and the next one was Eddie Murphy. She says that if she feels butterflies in her stomach before negotiating with powerful people, she knows she is in the right place, not coasting.

Think Big Secret #3

Stay alert all day long for opportunities. About 99 percent of the things that happen every day might be repetitive busywork. But there is another one percent that is different because it brings significant opportunities. Stay alert for this one percent throughout the day, and don’t let it escape you.

And One More Think Big Secret . . .

Constantly try to envision the significant places that your abilities and enthusiasms can take you in the world. Remember: “Good with numbers” is not a career goal, but “CFO of a Fortune 500 Company” is. “Excellent people skills” is not a career goal, but “head of my own HR consulting firm” is. If you find it hard to link your abilities to big enough dreams, consider having a session or two with a qualified coach who can help you see the big opportunities that lie hidden in your unique gifts. An objective outsider can sometimes see your future triumphs more clearly than you can and help you plan how to achieve them.

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