I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable. —Dwight D. Eisenhower
Big dreams generate the energy you need to succeed at anything. They stir passion, create meaning, and spur creative thinking. They call on people to do something everyone secretly yearns for: to take on an “impossible” challenge and prove everyone wrong.
Big dreams inspire others to join together in common cause. When the stakes are high and we’re quenching that deep human desire to pursue something larger than ourselves, collaboration flourishes and petty conflicts recede. When you believe that anything is possible, everything becomes possible.
Entrepreneurship is inherently risky, and if the reward isn’t big enough, the risk won’t be worth it. But a clear and compelling vision for the future will give everyone the courage they need to leave comfort behind and leap into the unknown.
Dream big—because your ambition is the cap to your potential. The more you can dream, the more you can achieve.
I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done. —Lucille Ball
Move fast to see your ideas come to life as soon as possible. Move fast because you have limited resources and too much to do in too little time. Move fast because if a problem is actually as big as it seems, you won’t be the only person who sees it—but if you move fast, you might be the first person to solve it.
But most of all, move fast because you need to learn fast. The greatest advantage you have in life is the speed at which you learn, so you have to learn fast. Moving fast is about going from not knowing to knowing as quickly as possible.
Nothing is real until the ideas in an entrepreneur’s head come into contact with the world. Real customers are the only way to discover that a design is a dud or turn a hunch into a hit. The faster you can go from not understanding to understanding, the likelier it is you’ll succeed—regardless of whether your customers’ initial reactions are positive or negative.
Learn from reality
You will only fail to learn if you do not learn from failing. —Stella Adler
One of the best places to learn is from your customers. Learn everything you possibly can from the people you serve.
Think of the restaurant owner who gets to know the regulars. The DJ who watches carefully for which tracks keep people dancing. The mayor who reads the mail from her constituents every day. The software engineer who builds a survey into their app to get more feedback. The teacher who asks students about what’s going on at home.
The fastest way to learn is to learn from reality. That means studying what’s come before, observing what’s working right now, asking customers what they want in the future, and quickly testing new ideas to gather real reactions. It means being genuinely curious, nondefensive, and open-minded.
Learning from reality makes it possible to change reality for the better.
Be solutions driven
When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it. —Henry Ford
Most people run from problems. Run toward them instead.
See every challenge, obstacle, and setback as an opportunity. Because in a world without problems, dreamers and innovators and entrepreneurs would have nothing to do. No reason for being. No chance to make a difference.
The difference between someone who gets stuck on a problem and someone who finds a solution isn’t how smart they are or how many resources they have—it’s how much energy and passion they can muster.
Surround yourself with people who give you energy and avoid anyone or anything who saps it. Seek out collaborators who share your mindset of abundance and possibility, the type of people who don’t sit around thinking about how something might fail but get to work making sure that it succeeds.
Obsess about opportunity
Don’t start a company unless it’s an obsession and something you love. If you have an exit strategy, it’s not an obsession. —Mark Cuban
Obsessing about opportunity creates opportunities; the closer you look, the more you’ll see. If something might matter to the customer, it should be a matter of great importance to you.
Be obsessive. Care more than it makes any sense to care. In a world where many people think “okay” is okay and “good enough” is good enough, actually caring is a huge competitive advantage.
Every successful entrepreneur is obsessed about the opportunity in front of them. Try to imagine Jeff Bezos saying that Amazon’s delivery speed had gotten “fast enough.” Or Beyoncé only going through the motions on stage. Or Reed Hastings at Netflix saying that they already had a lot of great shows and didn’t need to try to make another breakout hit. It would never happen.
If you want to just have a job and a paycheck, well, get a job with a paycheck. But if you want to do something meaningful with your life, find a passion and an opportunity that you can’t stop obsessing about. And never look back.
Collaborate without ego
The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team. —Phil Jackson
All businesses—all human endeavors, in fact—are powered by people and sustained through relationships.
Go through the world with the knowledge that it takes a long time to build trust but only a single moment to destroy it.
Check your ego because high-functioning teams deliver the best results—and outsize egos make teamwork nearly impossible. If you try to get ahead by trampling others, you may succeed today but only by destroying the promise of tomorrow.
Collaborate without ego because your dreams are too big to realize on your own—and too important to give up on. Collaborate without ego because no one succeeds alone.
Maximize your strengths
Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – Albert Einstein
We live in a society that’s obsessed with people’s weaknesses. Not strong enough. Not good enough. Not fast enough. Not smart enough.
Imagine a world where everyone was recognized every day for their strengths instead? Imagine a world where everyone was able to be their best selves? Imagine a world where everyone did what they excelled at all the time?
If you want to be your best self, you must be your authentic self. If you want to reach your full potential, you must maximize your strengths. But to maximize your strengths, you must first get to know yourself well enough to identify your strengths and accept your weaknesses.
That process is neither quick nor easy, but it can be transformational. Your imperfections are what make you perfect. The very things that make you stand out also make you outstanding. Understanding these truths unlocks your ability to perform at a level you’ve never dreamed of before.
Bounce back with passion
It ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and still keep moving forward. —Rocky Balboa
For everyone with a dream, there are countless doubters, skeptics, cynics, and competitors. For every impressive victory, there are many more crushing failures and defeats. For every great run of luck, there’s the day when your luck runs out.
The truest test of character is not how you act when things are going great—it’s what you do when you hit bottom.
Never stay down. Find the resilience to jump back up and stand even taller than before. Show your grit by continuing to push even when every fiber of your being is telling you to give up, quit, rest. Use your passion to keep dreaming big no matter how many times your dreams are dashed.
Think about it: when you’re knocked flat on your back, there’s literally nowhere to go but up. You can see with your own two eyes that the sky’s the limit. The only thing left to do is to bounce back with passion by returning to the beginning and dreaming big again.