Why Dreaming Big Can Keep You Small By Mark Silver
I remember when I was in another business, and as part of my support network we were dreaming up vision statements. I don't exactly remember what I came up with, but something that included words like "huge," "global," "number one," "best-known."
It was fun to dream that big for a little while. But...we're only a year or so from finally clearing the debt from that failed business. Something didn't work.
I've read numerous times where small business owners are encouraged to "dream big." To come up with huge mission statements that include dominating your industry, or becoming the premier or best-known at whatever you do.
These mission statements are killing your heart and your business.
Why are these mission statements so deadly? To understand, you only need to see where the spotlight is shining. Statements like "best-known," "premier," and the like means the spotlight is on you and your business. You're trying to put yourself into the limelight.
The Sufis teach that the ego tries to own things, while the heart knows it owns nothing. The ego is concerned primarily with external things: money and possessions, recognition and fame.
Your heart, in contrast, was designed to be in service. Your heart is filled up by giving, your ego is puffed up by grabbing.
This isn't to say that it's bad to receive money and recognition. These things are not inherently evil in any sense of the word. The Divine is present in all things, physical and non-physical, even money. However, they aren't inherently fulfilling, either. No matter how much the ego grabs, it's hungry for more. That hunger cannot be satiated through more stuff.
The tension between these two -- the ego-self wanting to take more and the heart wanting to serve more -- creates a struggle, a war in your being.
Only your heart can win this war and save your business.
The irony is that your heart is a much stronger attractor than your ego, and by letting go of big ego-dreams, your business actually has a better chance of actually arriving at that kind of bigness. Think of Martin Luther King, Jr, or Nelson Mandela, or Mother Theresa. They all achieved global fame through heart-service, not ego-aggrandizement.
But, does this mean you can never dream big? Of course not. Because your heart is actually much bigger than your ego, it's natural to dream big. So -- how do you dream big without inflating your ego?
Keys to Dreaming Big
• Feed your heart, starve your ego.
Feeding your heart strengthens it to continue serving. You can feed your heart in any number of ways, including: rest and care, regular spiritual practice, giving and receiving love with friends and family, performing service without any expectation of receiving back.
Starving your ego clears the path for the heart to be bigger, and frees you from having to chase after things that don't nourish you. Some things that starve your ego are: Delaying gratification of desires -- such as fasting from food and resisting impulse purchases; regular spiritual practice; undermining inflated pride and acknowledging your humility and need for help.
It's a funny thing, but starving your ego can sometimes seem as if you are losing something -- and you can hurt yourself if taken to extremes. But, if you feed your heart at the same time, you'll find that what your ego wants so badly isn't as necessary or nourishing as you originally thought.
• Keep the vision simple.
When Martin Luther King, Jr was faced with the horrible problem of racism in the US, he dreamed big. But, he dreamed not of becoming a world-renowned peace activist, but of simpler things: "I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood." To attain that simple vision -- a meal shared by people who would ordinarily be enemies -- required huge change.
But the vision itself was simple, simple, simple. One "Opening the Money Flow" class participant has a vision of parents who know how to cherish and love their child to grow up unwounded. A simple vision, but one that requires huge change in how many people raise children. What's your simple vision?
• Start small -- then scale up.
A simple vision can be very fulfilling even in a single instance. The first time a mother who, when her child is screaming, reacts with love and compassion instead of the anger and resentment she experienced from her own parents. If you helped a mother achieve that, hearing about it would make your whole day, and fuel you to do more for your business. This remains true for me no matter how many business owners I've helped -- the stories still really feed.
As you see your vision come to pass in small ways, then you can start to scale up. Your full heart will fuel your business and increase the scale at which you are working, even if the vision remains very simple. And your business can then potentially be a mission that fulfills you at the same time that it grows surprisingly large.
About the author: Mark Silver is the author of Unveiling the Heart of Your Business: How Money, Marketing and Sales can Deepen Your Heart, Heal the World, and Still Add to Your Bottom Line. He has helped hundreds of small business owners around the globe succeed in business without lousing their hearts. Get three free chapters of the book online: at Heart of Business.