Tag Archives | magic of thinking big

Why Dreaming is Vital to Growing your Personal Brand

Of all the high leverage leadership tools to develop people, coaching, to me, is the most beneficial and satisfying. There’s a real sense of meaning in equipping your people to go further and faster in all areas of their lives.

Whenever I’ve had the opportunity to engage in a formal coaching relationship with someone, I started with a few “big picture” questions about work, family, habits, and aspirations. And if there is one “30,000 foot” question that evokes the greatest difficulty in answering, it’s this:

“What are your dreams?”

By Steven Errico | Getty Images

It is interesting to me how much trouble people have answering this question — in most cases, they’ve asked for more time to think it through. Why do people struggle to dream? Is it a product of a conformity-based, performance-driven culture? Is it our education system? Is there a negative stigma associated with dreaming — something that only naive, unproductive, starry-eyed slackers do?

Whatever the reason, I believe that having big dreams is a valuable asset in developing your personal brand and living a purposeful, fulfilling life. Here’s why:

1) Big dreams = a big life. Confucius said, “Aim for the stars, that way the lowest thing you will hit is the moon.” Dreaming pushes people to heights they wouldn’t have hit had they not set their minds on something big, even if it is insurmountable. Consider the dream that launched Habitat for Humanity: “We envision a world where everyone has a decent place to live.” Will this ever happen? Not in our lifetimes, but pursuing such a lofty vision has enabled them to grow far beyond what they ever imagined and become a worldwide resource for millions of displaced people.

2) Dreaming brings out the best in people. Big dreams have led to the most important achievements in human history. From the eradication of smallpox to unmanned spaceflight to the most important technological discoveries of our age, all great accomplishments started in someone’s imagination.

3) Dreaming shifts our perspective. In a culture that overemphasizes busyness and accomplishment, there’s constant pressure to stay on life’s runway, chasing what’s directly in front of you. When all your time and energy is spent working IN your life instead of ON your life, it depletes you, causing you to settle for less. As Tony Robbins said, “Most people get caught up in making a living instead of designing a life.”

To be clear, it’s important to differentiate between dreaming and fantasizing. There is no benefit to having your head in the clouds with no basis in reality. Dreaming isn’t fantasy; it is an intentional pursuit that, if done right, will bring out the best version of yourself. To fully harness the power of your imagination in a way that adds substance and impact to your career and your life, here are five keys to dreaming big:

1) Ask the right questions. Questions have tremendous power to expand our thinking, generate ideas, and uncover our true selves. Here are some good ones:
– How do I want to be remembered? What do I want people to say about me at my funeral?
– What matters most to me? What am I truly passionate about? What inspires me?
– What activities and pursuits really engage me — where I lose track of time, where the hours seem to fly by while I am doing them?
– What would I give myself to if money was not an issue?

2) Set aside time each week to think. This sounds so counter-cultural, doesn’t it? But it’s precisely what some of the most productive and resourceful leaders build into their busy schedules. In his New York Times best selling book, Thinking for a Change, author John Maxwell advises leaders to commit time each day to uninterrupted thinking, planning, and processing ideas. One way to start: Commit 30 minutes a day to answering the above questions.

3) Commit to becoming a more curious person. Practice asking and listening. In my July 10th, 2014 post, “Learn to Be Lucky,” I summarized some interesting research findings on luck. One of them is that lucky people tend to create their own chance events by paying attention, opening their minds to noticing things and, as a result, frequently discovering possibilities well beyond what they were looking for. In much the same way, people who take the focus off themselves tend to stretch their minds, expand their possibilities, and generate new ideas — all of which are the building blocks of great dreams.

4) Write down your dreams, ideas, and goals. Eighteen months ago, at the urging of a mentor, I committed to journaling in the morning three to five times per week. While I was skeptical that I would stick with it, this small habit has become so ingrained that I truly miss it if I go even a day or two without this reflective, thought-provoking activity. In her outstanding book, Write it Down, Make it Happen, Henriette Klauser shares powerful stories about ordinary people who witnessed miracles large and small unfold in their lives after they performed the basic act of putting their dreams on paper. The act of writing down your dreams activates something in your soul that sets things in motion.

5) Spend time with people who see things differently than you. Yes, they will challenge you, but engaging with people who have different political, religious, and intellectual views will sharpen you and expand your thinking. Sadly, in a political culture that labels the opposition as the enemy, we tend to vilify people with whom we disagree instead of engaging them.

My Father, the Dreamer

Earlier this year, I created a presentation for our employees on the history of our company, which chronicles the life and career of my father, and founder of the Bill Marsh Auto Group. My dad has always been a dreamer. Below is a clip from the end of an interview with my father, Bill Marsh Sr, as he shares why:

Question: What about you? Do you consider yourself a dreamer? Why or why not? What would it mean to you and to the quality of your life if you committed to dreaming big? What holds you back? I’d really like to get your feedback.

Keep Dreaming by Joel Robison

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Who You Know Shapes Who You Become

“Show me your friends… and I’ll show you your future.” Tom Basson

“Show me your friends...and I’ll show you your future.” - Tom Basson

As a lifelong student of success, I’ve always been enamored with exploring why some people who possess what seem to be all the tools to create a massively successful, high impact life often seem to fade into mediocrity while others who, by comparison, start out with much less go on to rise to the top.

Although there are no clear cut answers, I’ve encountered some refreshingly helpful insights, one of which was shared by Tom Basson and involves harnessing the power of relationships. The big idea:

You become over time the average of your five closest friends.
Think about it. Who you allow into your life will ultimately shape your identity — and your destiny. So choose them wisely, and follow these three keys to managing your relationships to build your personal brand…  and secure your future:

1. Take a Social Inventory
Tom suggests the following exercise: Take a large piece of paper and draw a circle in the middle. Put your name in the circle and then draw lines coming from the center circle to create other circles in which you write the names of the people closest to you. Once you finish, ask yourself some tough questions:

• How many of these relationships can I realistically maintain?
• Which relationships are good for me, and which aren’t?
• Which relationships do I need to pursue for my own health and happiness?
• Which relationships do I feel God is nudging me to pursue?

The truth is, all your relationships are heading somewhere so when it comes to friendship, be intentional – don’t just wait for friends to fall into your lap. Pursue them. Surround yourself with friends who have the characteristics you’d like to develop in yourself. After all, your closest friends are who you’re becoming.

2. Be Present
Presence matters. There is power in physical presence. Comfort and compassion can only really be conveyed by physical presence, not through social media. It’s far more difficult and demanding, but it is also far more meaningful.

Being present means establishing a habit of availability to others — that is, it is something we choose to do and practice doing. So choose to be present.

3. Be Open
Being “open” can mean many things, but for me, in terms of approaching friendships, being open is about being vulnerable with those around you and telling people the truth behind what’s really going on in your life. Brené Brown, an expert on vulnerability, says that while “we may impress people with our strengths, we connect with people through our weaknesses.”

Being open means being brave enough to take off the mask and ask for help when you need it most.

Remember, the person you will be five to ten years from now will be shaped by the people that influence you the most — your closest friends.

Do you agree? If so, how would you “score” on the social inventory? Are your closest relationships growing you, depleting you, or leaving you the same? Leave me your comments… I’d love to know.

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Getting the Action Habit: 4 Keys to Making Ideas Happen


For the past several weeks I’ve posted on The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz, one of the most highly acclaimed self-development books ever, selling over 4 million copies since 1959. The book, based on Dr. Schwartz’s thorough research and deep understanding of human behavior, dispels the myth that success is the product of superior talent, intellect, and education. Instead, the author presents a well-designed plan to develop specific habits—patterns of thinking and behaving—that separate high achieving people in all walks of life from those who settle for less.

There’s always resistance to turning ideas into action.

To illustrate, Dr. Schwartz tells the story of a fellow professor he met late in his career, a very capable man who excitedly shared his plans for writing a book, a biography of a controversial personality of a few decades ago. He writes:

“His ideas were more than interesting; they were alive, fascinating. The project he shared was destined to reward him with much inner satisfaction, prestige, and money. The following spring, I saw my friend again and innocently asked him whether the book was about finished. (This was a mistake; it opened up an old wound.) No, he hadn’t written the book. He struggled with himself for a moment as if he were debating with himself whether to explain why. Finally, he explained that he had been too busy, he had more ‘responsibilities’ and just couldn’t get to it.

In reality, what the professor had done was bury the idea deep in his mental graveyard. He let his mind grow negative thoughts. He visualized the tremendous work and sacrifices which would be involved. He saw all sorts of reasons why the project would fail.”

This story underscores perhaps the greatest obstacle to success: A lack of execution. If you are seriously committed to turning your ideas into action, here are four steps to guide you.

(1)   Expect resistance. Successful people in every field understand that conditions will never be perfect. In business, marriage, or any activity, success is not the ability to eliminate all problems before taking action, but rather the ability to find solutions to obstacles as they  arise.

(2)   Use action to overcome fear and build confidence.  Action feeds and strengthens confidence; inaction feeds fear.  One of the greatest insights I’ve ever received is this: Courage is not the absence of fear; courage is acting in the midst of fear. In other words, courageous people experience just as much fear as cowards; the difference is how they respond, by confronting their fear through deliberate action. The alternative is allowing fear to produce procrastination, which erodes initiative and eventually leads to the regret and cynicism. As Dr. Schwartz puts it, “Every day thousands of people bury good ideas because they are afraid to act on them.  And afterwards, the ghosts of those ideas come back to haunt them.”  Sadly, you don’t have to look far to find once confident, energetic people who’ve allowed disappointment and cynicism to drain the life out of them.

(3)   Start your mental engine—mechanically. One of the laws of nature is that nothing starts itself, something must be initiated first.  The same applies to your mind. Whether you’re planning on starting a business, creating your own website, writing an e-book, or making follow up contacts to potential clients, people who get things done in this world don’t wait for the spirit to move them; they move the spirit. Too many people get it backwards!

(4)   Beware of  the “Someday Maybe” Syndrome. One of my favorite quotes comes from Alfred D. Souza. He said, “For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin –- -real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.”

The syndrome of “someday maybe” is perhaps the greatest obstacle to becoming a big thinker. The best immunity to this insidious mental virus is building up a powerful lifelong immunity system—by cultivating the habit of consistent daily action.

 As I conclude this series of posts on The Magic of Thinking Big, consider these questions:

  • What big ideas, goals or dreams of yours are waiting to be launched but, for some reason,  haven’t gotten off the ground?
  • What’s at stake? In other words, what would be possible for you if you took action? What difference would it make in your life?
  • What’s holding you back?

  I would love to hear your feedback!

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What’s Your “Likeability Factor?”

Confidence brings likeability

From 1946 until the late 1980’s, the Polk Brothers dominated the retail appliance business in Chicago, turning a single, family owned store they built on Chicago’s Northwest side in 1935 into a multi-chain retail giant that grew into one of the biggest appliance sellers in the nation.

When asked about the key to their remarkable success, founder Sol Polk revealed a strikingly simple formula: “Customers,” said Polk, “should be treated like they are guests in my home.” Continue Reading →

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