The ripple effect
Why your goals are too small
Is there anyone you know that has huge goals and ambitions? I’m not talking about celebrities but people you know personally.
I don’t know many, if any.
And even of our friends that have modest goals we often think they are over-ambitious.
The fact is that our goals and dreams are much too small.
People tend to strive for things that are within reach and then underestimate the work it takes to get there.
And when they don’t reach their goals because they don’t put in enough effort, they get demotivated and the next time they will set even smaller goals.
It’s not just you. It’s also me, it’s our parents, our managers, our business leaders and politicians. Our religious leaders, our guidance counsellors, our teachers, ….
The easier our life gets, the harder it seems.
Look at the previous century. We had poverty, famine, many wars, disease, …
Yet we evolved from riding horse carriage to putting a man on the moon and building the international space station.
Today we have the best education and the most knowledge available for free through the Internet, yet people seem to think it is more difficult now to solve problems.
When Kennedy said he wanted to put a man on the moon, the people started working and they achieved their goal. Now we have a thousand times the computing power than we had in those days, but NASA is struggling to even get a rocket in the sky.
In the eighties we could fly from NY to London in about 3 hours using the Concorde. Nowadays it will take you 6 to 7 hours (if you’re lucky).
Is there a good reason why we can’t fly at supersonic speed anymore? I don’t think so. There are many good excuses, but that is not the same thing.
There is a chance that 60 years after NASA put a man on the moon, SpaceX will put a man on Mars.
All it needed was a man from South Africa to come to the USA with huge goals and ambitions.
Did he single-handed build his rockets? Of course not.
The great engineers that helped him build his rockets where already there. It was not the genius of Elon Musk that build those rockets.
It was his ambition that inspired those great engineers to have bigger goals and build better things.
The pursuit of happiness
When talking to other people about goals and dreams, I often hear the same thing.
“I just want to be happy”
“I can’t have big goals because I need to take care of my family”
“I don’t have what it takes to be successful”
I might shock you when I say this, but in most cases these are just excuses. (this might not be shocking but I planned to use another word)
When asking about happiness, people often refer to their few weeks of holiday at some nice exotic location.
There are actually a lot of people that are willing to work 46 weeks per year in a job they don’t really like to have a few weeks happiness. But if you would do something you really like, you could be happy 52 weeks a year. Yet pursuing your dreams is seen to be too risky.
Other people are willing to slave half their lives so that their children can have a better future. But what they forget is that you raise your children by example. If your children see you drag your self away to a job everyday and have no ambition at all, what example are you setting them? Do you expect them to do the opposite? Who is teaching them to be ambitious and have big goals in life?
Can’t you take care of your family while chasing your goals? Don’t you think it would inspire them more?
Another excuse is the excuse of limited capabilities. People still believe that successful people are superhuman beings that are great in everything and they themselves are inferior and not meant for greatness. Like you need some genetic mutation to be able to become successful.
The truth is that you are probably smarter and more capable than some of our business leaders out there.
The only difference is ambition.
How to train yourself to think big
XPRIZE founder Dr. Peter Diamandis did not think of what was realistic when starting his organisation. If he had set realistic goals, he would probably not have been as successful as he is now. We need big goals and big ambitions if we want to keep making progress as human beings.
Imagine you had unlimited money, knowledge and power. Imagine you are an omnipotent entity that can change things with a flick of his fingers. Think about what you would do. Not things for your own well being, but what would you do for society, for humanity?
So why is this not your goal in life? We are all omnipotent beings. There is no limitation on what we can achieve. The only limitation is our imagination.
I already here the typical response to this statement: “You have to be realistic”.
Of course you have to be realistic. You won’t be able to cure cancer in one day just by making it your goal. But there is a difference between being realistic about your ambitions and being realistic about the outcome of your ambitions.
Let’s look at an example. If your unrealistic goal is to cure the world from cancer, what can you do? Maybe you can study medicine or maybe you can raise money for cancer research, or maybe you try to influence your graduates to go into research instead of choosing for a better paying job in Pharmaceutics or maybe you will fight for a ban of polluting industries, or maybe you find another way.
If you take one or more actions, there is always a possibility that this causes a ripple effect that leads to a cure for cancer. And the more you believe in this, the harder you will try and the bigger will be the chance of success.
But if you say in advance that your goal is unrealistic and you will not pursue it, than the chance of success is 0%.
If everyone on this planet choses for the realistic goals, than we will have 0% chance to make big changes to our world. But can you imagine 6 billion people believing there is a chance to make a change by thinking big? How small does the unrealistic outcome have to be to stay unrealistic when you multiply it by 6 billion?
Another way of more gradually growing your goals and ambitions is by applying the 10X Rule (book by Grand Cardone, more info in my books section).
Let’s say you have a goal to raise 10.000$ to help fund cancer research. What the 10X Rule says is in order to guarantee that you will reach this goal, you should multiply in by 10 (10X) and plan towards this 10X goal. In this case, you should make it your goal to raise 100.000$ dollar and make plans to reach the 100.000$ goal.
The reason is that we always underestimate the effort it takes to reach our goals. So lets say we have set our goal to 100.000$ and we have done all that we think is humanly possible to reach this target. But we fail anyway. We fail to reach our target and come short 50.000$. This means we only reached 50% of our goal.
But what is the result? We have actually raised 5 times more money than our initial goal! Although we failed, we have a huge success.
Now what would have happened if we had not applied the 10X Rule? Chances are big that we also came 50% short to our target. We would have only raised 5000$.
By setting our goals higher we can achieve more. But the effort does not necessarily have to be 10 times bigger. By thinking bigger, we will plan differently. We will find solutions for problems we wouldn’t even think of when planning small.
But this should not be a one time pursuit. Once you have raised your 50.000$, you will adjust your goals and try to go for 500.000$. And because you think big and believe that you won’t come 50% short this time, you will plan for 1 million $ instead.
Ambition is the only difference between successful and unsuccessful people. Humans are problem solvers.
But you need to give yourself problems to solve. Problems that are challenging enough.
Maybe the reason this generation has become so passive is that our lives are too good. We don’t have pressing needs to solve.
We have too much luxury. The less we do, the more time to rest and relax we need.
We party because we can, not because we have a victory to celebrate. The reward is given before the achievement.
Instead, we should make it a habit to pursue our unrealistic dreams.
I could have spend my Saturday morning differently instead of writing this post. I don’t have many readers and the chances are small that of those few readers, someone would get inspired to make a difference in the world.
But what if there is a small chance that someone is inspired enough to share this post with some other people. And they share again, causing a ripple effect that somewhere on this globe reaches a young woman that gets inspired to become the new Elon Musk of her region. Or a young parent that chooses to raise his kids differently, causing another ripple effect.
We are all omnipotent. Just by sharing a simple post, we can change the world for the better.
We only need to have ambition and to believe we can achieve anything.
Originally published at www.planetgorik.com on April 30, 2016.