When my overcrowded local library was looking to expand, it wasn’t the people interested in improving themselves and their community who came out against it, of course, but only those who weren’t, or who refused to see the value in a better resource. Some people, bluntly put, prefer ignorance. The worst even take pride in it!
I had a grand-uncle I loved, but his thinking was less than grand. With all his creative ideas, when asked why he didn’t get involved in local organizations to make the differences he talked about, he famously declared “What this world needs is a benevolent dictator. And I’m just the man to do it!”
See, if things couldn’t be done his way—and without question—then he wouldn’t have any part of it. That’s a shame.
There’s a place for small thinking—bonsai growers, nuclear physicists and silicon chip manufacturers, to name a few. But for progressive leaders and managers, small-mindedness is a fatal affliction.
If we permit ourselves to become small-minded, we succeed only in minor accomplishments, and forfeit both the moral authority and the vision to achieve a greater good.
I’ve noticed a couple of common ailments among the small-minded. They:
• are usually satisfied with the status quo.
• are unwilling to change for a variety of reasons/excuses.
• do not notice or cannot comprehend the differences between mediocrity and excellence.
• have a “good enough” mentality.
• are unable or unwilling to see the big picture.
• deal in doubt and incite disbelief.
• focus on minimum requirements, easy fixes and paths of least resistance.
• are more concerned about what’s in it for “me” than what’s in it for “we.”
To the small-thinker, change is an onerous operation; to the big-thinker, it’s an investment opportunity. Yet reaching any goal, realizing any dream, or achieving any vision is, by nature, a successful experience in creating and managing change.
The difference between small and large thinkers is not in their intelligence, but in their mindsets and perceptions. We are, after all, the product of how we frame and control our thinking and imagination.
In the 2012 movie The Magic of Belle Isle, a 10-year-old girl asks an old writer to teach her to imagine. He points down the empty street and asks her to tell him what she sees. “Nothing,” she says. The writer responds “Imagination… the most powerful force ever made available to humankind. Never stop looking for what’s not there.”
That’s the revolutionary power of big thinking: imagination that generates energy and motivation, attracts resources and possibilities, propels learning and innovation, and drives development and capacity to produce what once didn’t even exist.
Yet we all know people who talk big but produce little, like my great-uncle. So how do big thinkers also become big doers? How do we launch our thoughts into actions to create change and influence results?
It all begins with a single, considered, cultivated thought: I choose.
I choose what to believe and what to reject. I choose what I embrace and what I ignore. I choose positive possibilities. I choose to expand my thinking. I choose to work and associate with other like-minded people. I choose to improve, despite circumstances, hardship or personal discomfort because I’m worth it. I choose to imagine. I choose excellence. I choose choices, changes, challenges and champions. I choose to act. I choose results.
Choices made, begin to incorporate them into all aspects of your daily thinking and living:
- Your personal wellness and family responsibilities.
How am I raising the standards?
- Your life purpose and goals.
What dreams shall I champion?
- Your commitments to developing creativity, capacity and capabilities.
What are my personal and professional development plans?
- Your professional projects, goals and opportunities.
To what levels of accomplishment and leadership do I aspire?
- Your options to overcome doubts, constraints, difficulties and obstacles.
How do I break out of my comfort zone, solve problems, and create and manage change?
- Your contributions to your co-workers, supervisors, company, community and world.
What may I offer and what differences shall I ultimately make?
And suddenly you’re off to a small, but big-thinking start to far-reaching transformations—with perhaps worldwide ramifications! I’m sure you’ll discover other avenues as well, and I’d appreciate hearing about them. In the meantime, keep this inspirational concept in mind:
The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were and ask why not. —President John F. Kennedy
MasterPoint: I choose. And my choices make all the difference.