“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” – Michelangelo, Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer
Big, bold and compelling vision is what separates great leaders from good leaders. Great leaders set great goals. Great goals are ambitious, challenging, they stretch you and your team, taking you outside of your comfort zone.
“We’re here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise why else even be here?” — Steve Jobs
Sadly too many leaders think small and aim low when setting direction. This is understandable as leaders don’t want to set themselves up to fail, so they remain cautious. There is danger in setting a vision that aims low.
- Aiming low produces mediocre results.
- Aiming low fails to inspire the people around you.
- Aiming low fails to build new capabilities.
- Aiming low keeps you locked into the past and reenforces the status quo.
To be inspired to do great work requires that you know you’re making a difference, that you’re doing what matters.
“When I got back here in 1997, I was looking for more room, and I found an archive of old Macs and other stuff. I said, ‘Get it away!’ and I shipped all that s—- off to Stanford. If you look backward in this business, you’ll be crushed. You have to look forward.” — Steve Jobs, 2009
Pause and reflect. “Are you aiming too low?”. “Are you thinking big enough?“. Thinking big and aiming high gets you out of the status quo. Thinking big and aiming high creates the scope to shift how you do business. It pushes you to step outside your comfort zone.
- Aiming high creates focus and direction.
- Aiming high inspires and motivates others.
- Aiming high create a sense of urgency and excitement to drive change.
- Aiming high stretches you out of your comfort zone.
Leaders think big and aim high, they don’t set small goals, rather they set big, bold and challenging goals. Thinking big and aiming high breaks you out of making incremental improvements and causes you to think and work differently. It forces you to break away from what worked in the past, to explore new ways of working.
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” – Antoine de Saint Exupéry
The only way you can achieve something big is to think big. Big ideas and big vision demands a significant shift in your capabilities. It stimulates innovation, new approaches and ways of conducting your business. If forces you out of your comfort zone without which you will fail to make progress.
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything—all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” — Steve Jobs, Stanford University commencement address, 2005
Great leaders push themselves and their teams to do that which others won’t. Do you have a great, challenging goal that will stretch you and your team out of their comfort zone?