What do you see for yourself? When you look into your future, what kind of future do you see?
For example, what kinds of potential do you see for yourself in relationship to
- Your grades or academic achievements
- Your success in your sport or hobby area(s)
- Your knowledge/wisdom
- Your future spouse (if you’re not married yet)
- Your marriage (if you are)
- Your family
- Your career
- Your business (if you own your own)
- Your impact on others
- Your impact on your community (or city or state or nation or world)
- Your impact in your company or organization
- Your legacy
What you see matters because very rarely does anyone exceed the level of their ambitions. For example, if you have a low view of marriage, if you don’t have a lot of expectations for a great relationship, chances are you won’t build a great marriage. You’ll end up as, what a friend of mine calls, “Married singles,” and that usually leads to either divorce or a love-less marriage.
On the other hand, if you have a very high view of marriage and your ambition is that you’re going to create a life-long love affair with your spouse where you see yourselves still in love in your later years, walking on a beach, in some exotic location, holding hands, laughing and talking about the fun experiences you’ve shared with one another over the past five decades and the kind of impact you’ve had together, etc. then you’ve got a much better shot at creating a great marriage.
However, you’ll never create that if your ambition for your marriage is low. That’s why one of the great lessons of life is to dream big because whatever your ambition level is, that will become the glass ceiling of your potential—and that is true in every area of your life (mentally, physically, spiritually, relationally, financially, professionally, and emotionally).
So, what do you see for you and your life?
Now, the good news is, regardless of your answer, your potential can be changed and improved. In a moment, you can change your ambition and when you do that you can change the potential for your life. The biggest limitations on your life’s potential never exist outside of you, they exist within you—between your two ears. Change your ambition, change your life.
So, how can you dream bigger? Well, here are a few ideas to help you get started.
I. Read Voraciously
Creativity isn’t about creating something out of nothing, it’s about combining ideas in ways that are new to you or in a new way for a project. In order to do that, you need to have a big well to draw from. And there are few things in life more powerful for creating a big well than reading voraciously. Find a big picture person and chances are you’ll find a voracious reader.
Why? Because every time you learn something, you create a new neural connection. And the more of these neural connections you create—the more you’ll begin to think at a higher and deeper level. You’ll begin to think thoughts you never would have thought otherwise.
And make sure you read information outside your comfort zone. That’s when you’ll really begin to expand your ambitions about what’s possible. Most people simply like to read information that reinforces what they already believe. That won’t change you and cause you to dream bigger—that’ll only keep you stuck where you are.
If you want to dream bigger, you have to read material that forces you to think differently and see the world differently. Reading biographies, for example, can do that for you. Reading non-fiction books in an area that you want to get better at, can do that for you. Traveling broadly and experiencing different cultures and people can do that for you. And if you want to take this one step further, read material that disagrees with what you currently believe from time to time—just to expand your thought processes.
So, what do you need to read that would cause you to think about you and your life at a higher level?
Note: just to give you a glimpse into my world, I’m currently reading/studying material that deals with everything from complexity theory to robotics and AI (artificial intelligence), to marketing, leadership, innovation, entrepreneurism, mindsets, gardening, tennis, investments, fitness, nutrition, ancient Greek civilization, the Bible, interviewing and podcasting, video production, product creation, business models, strategy, hiring, time management and personal productivity. The more broadly your read, the bigger your well will get and the more potential you’ll see is possible.
II. Study Successful People
One of the upcoming Johnson Letter lessons will be on, “You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know.” One part of that lesson is that if you haven’t experienced something, it’s very difficult to imagine a different experience. For example, if you’ve grown up in a family environment where your parents and your friends’ parents lived paycheck to paycheck, it’s hard to imagine what it would be like to be financially independent (though that’s entirely possible).
Or, if all of your friends and family members are mono-lingual (i.e. they only speak one language), it’s hard to imagine you could be poly-lingual and speak five different languages fluently (which you could if you wanted to).
Tony Robbins (a motivational speaker) has a phrase I like, “Success leaves clues.” What he means by that is that if there’s something you want to be great at, find someone who’s doing that thing and then do what they did.
I find this works on two levels. First, if there’s something you want to be great at, by studying them, you’ll see possibilities you didn’t think were possible. For example, if you’re totally overwhelmed with too much to do it’s hard to imagine you can get beyond where you are today (though you can). However, by studying people who are beyond where you’re at, you’ll learn new ways of working or doing activities that will allow you to get more done than you ever thought possible (i.e. you’ll learn some new skills by studying someone who’s better than you at the thing you want to get better at).
On the other hand, one of the great things that happens when you study successful people is you learn how ordinary they are. That they’re people just like you—and that will motivate you to think bigger.
I remember going to a church conference back in the early part of my pastoral ministry days. It was in the early 90’s at a church in California lead by a pastor named Robert Schuller, where he had assembled a number of the pastors of the largest churches in the world (pastors like David Yonggi Cho who pastored a church of 750,000 at the time and Bill Hybels, who at that time, was pastoring the largest church in America). Schuller’s direction to each of the speakers was, “Share your failures more than your successes,” and they did. In fact, I can remember leaving that conference thinking, “God, if you can use those guys to build a big church, you can certainly use me.”
So who do you know who’s really good at what you want to be good at? Make a list and start studying them. As you do, you’ll start to get a bigger picture of what’s possible for you.
III. Ask, “Why Not Me?”
Most people, when they see a successful person think, “I’ll never have that” or “I’ll never be that,” or “That’ll never be me.” But those are all disempowering thoughts. Why waste your time thinking that way.
Instead, when you see someone who’s great at something, ask, “Why not me?” Or, “Why can’t I be that?” Or, “Why can’t that be true for me as well?”
- If you see someone who’s succeeding well at school, ask “Why not mel?”
- If you see someone who’s healthy and in shape, ask “Why not me?”
- If you see someone who has plenty of money, ask, “Why not me?”
- If you see someone who has a successful, fun-filled, romantic marriage, ask, “Why not me?”
- If you see someone who’s leading a successful company, ask, “Why not me?”
- If you see someone who’s succeeding in a hobby area of yours, ask, “Why not me?”
- If you see someone who can read 1,000 words per minute, ask, “Why not me?”
- If you see someone who can speak six languages, ask, “Why not me?”
- If you see someone who’s really smart, ask, “Why not me?”
Remember, the greatest limitations on your life are not external to you, they’re internal. So, challenge your current limitations. When you see someone who’s beyond you at something, just ask the “Why not me?” question and lift the level of your ambition. If someone else can do it, chances are you can do it as well.
So, start asking the, “Why not me?” question—and get a bigger dream for yourself.
IV. Ask God to Give You A Bigger Dream
If you don’t believe in God, no pressure (i.e. feel free to skip this idea). However, if you do believe, you’d be foolish to not act consistent with your faith. No one operates at a higher or bigger level than God. He speaks and worlds come into being. He exists outside of time and yet works within time. He is all-knowing, all-powerful, ever-present and sovereign over all.
So, if you ever need a bigger dream for any area of your life, simply ask God. There is no bigger dream releaser than Him.
Your life has unbelievable potential—far greater than you think is currently possible. The way to prove that to you is to think back ten years ago. Think of what you were capable of ten years ago. Now, look at what you’re currently capable of. I can guarantee that you’re doing things now that ten years ago you didn’t think you could do. So, why would you ever think that ten years from now you won’t be capable of so much more than you’re currently doing?
The potential for your life is simply amazing. Therefore don’t allow your current circumstances or capabilities or resources, etc. to limit what’s possible for you. Instead, get a bigger dream.
- Read voraciously
- Study successful people
- Ask, “Why not me?” and
- Ask God to give you a bigger dream
Why? Because your ambition (of what’s possible in every area of your life) is the glass ceiling on your potential.
To your accelerated success!