The fine line between success and superlative success

Here's how to aim for outrageous, larger-than-life goals...

Young archer aiming for imaginary bulls eye in the sky

The difference between success and superlative success is the ability to think huge. However, most of us consider thinking large to be just that—a thinking activity. It’s much beyond that. As we discover super-sized thinking, we can use its power to drive larger-than-life actions. Thinking large can help us cultivate vision, possibilities, courage, and action. This helps to clarify and achieve our XXXL goals.

In spite of this being a tempting option, a lot of people don’t think huge because they don’t know what kind of attitude and actions lead to such thinking. And learning to think in this way is important because wishing and thinking are two different activities. Dreaming about a huge goal can get us excited, but not necessarily get us moving in that direction. Purposeful thinking, on the other hand, can result in significant progress in our life. Here are five effective ways to ‘Think Large’ and act on that thinking.

1. Maintain your perspective

At this level, it’s no longer about whether you see the glass half full or empty. It’s about filling the glass to the brim or, aiming to make the glass into a pitcher. But this isn’t possible if you keep looking at the limitations. Thinking from big to bigger too is a matter of perspective—it’s in your mind. Your mind labels the goal as large or too large. Strip the goal off its largeness and learn to look at it for what it is—just a goal.

Thinking large means to strategically think beyond your ‘perceived’ limitations. That is when you’ll discover a breakthrough to greater success. Don’t compare your current situation to your goal if what you keep seeing is the gap. Know that it’s a matter of freeing your mind of the confines of your thought. Once you do, you’ll find it easier to glide to a much brighter future.

Dreaming about a huge goal can get us excited, but not necessarily get us moving in that direction

2. Unlock your potential

Knowing that we are talented is one thing, knowing how to act on that knowledge is quite another. The former creates wishful thinking and the latter propels planned action. Often, our potential remains dormant because we allow our insecurities to get in the way. Our potential is like a treasure locked inside us. It needs the right key to turn the lock and let out our strengths in full measure. We all have the potential to achieve anything we set our sights on—no matter how big the goal. Self-awareness and determination are the keys to unlocking our potential and driving our success. When we utilise our potential, it gives a big boost to thinking beyond big and taking action on that thinking.

If you truly want to become the CEO or own a business or start an NGO, then all your energy and focus must be on doing something new and different, going beyond the tried- and-tested and achieving more than anyone expects from you. This attitude helps to play to your biggest strengths and use your potential. Many people say to me, they have a book inside their heads waiting to come out. That book will continue to wait unless they understand that ‘they’, and not their mind, is causing the delay. Their mind is ready to unlock its potential, if only they turned the key. This release of our innate talents creates courageous thinking.

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3. Cultivate creative thinking

If you want to think large, think creative. A fixed mindset is not the best place for giving birth to new ideas, exciting opportunities, or big goals. Most of us might have faced a situation that seemed impossible to resolve—a problem that seemed too big to get over. And, yet, if someone forces us to look more keenly and creatively at the situation, we manage to come up with a way out, don’t we? When we have the support of like-minded people, we become more resourceful. Creativity can be cultivated while being alone as well. A tough or chronic challenge can be sorted out if we examine it from different points of view.

I find writing down my goals and listing several ways to reach them a great way to address my personal challenges. I can then show my list to my spouse or a friend and ask for advice. The advantage of writing is that it forces me to think of many possibilities to reach a goal as opposed to just one or two ways. The next time you think your situation is impossible to solve, get creative. Talk to people you trust, write down solutions, read a helpful book, ask for advice from those wiser than you—and surprise yourself with many ideas pouring in. Thinking XXXL requires creativity and resourcefulness.

A fixed mindset is not the best place for giving birth to new ideas, exciting opportunities, or big goals

4. Make fear your friend

Super-sized thinking requires thinking with courage. Just as good friends help us overcome our doubts and moments of weakness, fear helps us see what is blocking our path. Fear can encourage us to be more prepared, more alert, and try harder to unleash the full power of an idea or a new strategy. Every time we overcome a fear, we take a quantum leap towards greater maturity and confidence. Begin with overcoming small fears that most of us have.

My biggest fear was drowning, and deep water really scared me. One day, I decided to take the plunge—literally—and overcame my fear of being in water with the help of an expert swimmer. Research says that people are more afraid of public speaking than they are of dying. To help you overcome the fear of public speaking, you can take up a small opportunity to make a 15-minute presentation to a group of known people. The sense of achievement and pride when you overcome a fear creates freedom in your thinking and leads to more courageous actions.

5. See failure as mistakes

All of us fail—it’s important to keep this in mind. The moment we make failure a piece of misfortune that happened only to us, we respond with strong negative emotions. The way we deal with failure affects how we see our current situation and our future. We think small when we are scared and play safe rather than play to our potential. Failure is better thought of as a mistake, which is the truth anyway. And you know that anyone can make mistakes. Don’t worry that the stakes are high or, you’ll never be able to cut failure to size. Think of it this way: we fail because we don’t do certain things right, or the situation is not ideal, or we didn’t prepare enough. Either way, there is something that we can do better, going forward. Failure is not as much a reflection on our intelligence or ability as our preparation and methods. And it can actually be good for you. This kind of thinking cultivates hope instead of disappointment and doubt. It helps us broaden our thinking and embrace new possibilities. Thinking large is an activity of courage and future-orientation.

Remember, thinking large is a choice, and like all worthwhile pursuits in life, it takes practice, willingness, and patience to make it our second nature.

A version of this article was first published in the April 2012 issue of  Complete Wellbeing.

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Sonali Masih-D'silva
Sonali Masih-D'silva is a leadership consultant. She is the co-founder of Leadership Success Solutions. She is also the author of the book, Corporate Nirvana. Her passion lies in training and writing on areas of leadership and personal growth. Sonali has trained senior leaders at several Indian and international organisations.


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