The power of dreaming big in a small world


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The world is getting smaller. The rise of technology combined with the fall of western economies means everything is being scaled-back. Budgets, forecasts, timescales, workforces and expectations are all being minimised, shrink-wrapped and shelved. But for those business owners who are willing to buck the trend, dream big and act bigger, the rewards await.

“This is Tauranga. You need to start lowering your expectations.”

I still recall one of the very first meetings, when I arrived in New Zealand three years ago. As far as motivational speeches go, it wasn’t exactly the Gettysburg address. I had landed in Aotearoa full of hopes, goals and dreams, but these ambitions were being cut down faster than a harvester moving through a field of tall poppies.

The message was clear: Now is not the time to dream big. Big dreams sound exciting and adventurous, but it’s safer to scale-down, knuckle-down and keep your head down. So that’s what I did.

Until, one day, when I was productively spending precious hours of my life sitting in a Bayfair traffic jam, the unexpected happened: I dared to dream big.

Then, to add insult to injury, not only did I dream big, but I started to take bigger actions. Finally, as my actions scaled up to meet my expectations, I started to encounter other people who were performing in the same way.

But the bigger my dreams became, the more people warned me that my business was about to turn into a nightmare. Was it time to get more realistic? In 2024, are big, bold business plans the stuff of fairytales?

Honey, I shrunk I dream

In a world where success is often measured by incremental gains and marginal improvements, dreaming and acting big is a scary prospect. After all, why go for ‘big’ when ‘average’ will do just fine? You only need to look at politics, sports or corporate leadership to see that acting small is not only encouraged but rewarded.

Sure, it’s OK to talk a big game, but when most people would be happy to get a silver medal 10 times rather than spectacularly fail 9 times and pick up the gold once … taking the path of least resistance feels not only safer, but also a path more likely to be paved with gold.

The time for rebels, dreamers and loose cannons with a point to prove appears over. They’ve been analysed and optimised out of existence. The crazy hopes and wild “But what if we DID actually pull this off?” schemes have been ironed out by focus groups and A/B testing.

Is the dream over?

Take Apple, for example. In the infamous ‘Think Different’ commercial, Steve Jobs proclaimed, “Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes” .

That was in 1997, when Steve’s natural desire to dream and do big things put the struggling tech company on the path to greatness. But Apple’s meteoric growth over the past decade can be attributed to Tim Cook – a practical and pragmatic engineer – since taking over the helm in 2011. These days, an Apple developer wouldn’t dare to doodle a sketch on a napkin before first running it past a consumer survey officer. Maybe Apple isn’t as sexy as it was once, but it’s a lot more profitable. Starving artist or middle of the road and rich? I know which the Apple shareholders would prefer.

When nothing matters more than the bottom line, perhaps the time for dreams is over. Jobs; da Vinci; Earhart; Barnum; Pearse; Hillary – are the visionaries consigned to the history books forever?

It would be a sensible idea, except for one issue: Statues are rarely built for people who follow sensible ideas.

Dream differently

The most significant breakthroughs and achievements often come from disproportionate actions and radical leaps of faith, just ask Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos.

But dreaming big isn’t just reserved for industry titans and visionary entrepreneurs. It’s a mindset that anyone can adopt to achieve extraordinary results in their personal and professional lives. Whether you’re striving to advance your career, launch a business, or pursue a lifelong passion, embracing the power of being radically different can propel you towards unprecedented success.

So how can you cultivate a visionary mindset in your own life?

Start by daring to dream without limits. Instead of setting goals based on what seems achievable or realistic, envision the ultimate outcome you desire and then multiply it by ten. Allow yourself to entertain the possibility of achieving far more than you ever thought possible.

Next, take massive action towards your grandiose goals. Break free from the constraints of conventional thinking and embrace unconventional strategies and approaches. Be willing to take calculated risks, challenge the status quo, and push beyond your comfort zone in pursuit of your dreams.

There’s no place like home

As the world gets smaller, dreaming big can not only be encouraged, but required, to stand out and make an impact.

But dreaming is not enough. Support, guidance and structure are needed to turn the dream into reality. Thankfully, that is where Tauranga steps up and steps into its zone of genius.

We are blessed with a growing network of dreamers, schemers, entrepreneurs and catalysts who want to make a difference. This isn’t where the dream comes to die … this is where it comes true. I believe we all have a responsibility to ensure dreaming is encouraged, and doing is enabled. This may sound crazy. And perhaps we are all a little crazy in this sunny corner of New Zealand. But, as Steve Jobs said, “The ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Related: FROM BURNOUT TO RISING STAR: How to profit under pressure

Freddie Bennett is a Guinness World Record holder, bestselling author and leads New Zealand’s leading mastermind group for professionals: Professional Superheroes. He gets businesses unstuck, unshackled and unleashed. Freddie can be contacted at hello@freddiembennett.com

Freddie Bennett
Freddie Bennett
Guinness World Record Holder, podcast host and bestselling author, Freddie is known as ‘The Profit Hunter’. He helps business owners enjoy more time, money and freedom by discovering and extracting hidden profits in their companies. Freddie@conqueryourmedia.com

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