201 Time Shrinks Big Disappointments (So Think Big)

Are your goals big enough to be the “elephant in the room?”

About 10 years ago I was working hard to pull off a buyout. I had a well-crafted plan, a solid strategy and a 20 year plus track record. It was as though the circumstances of my life converged to make this opportunity to possible. It was a multi-million dollar deal that I was trying to bring to fruition. That’s when he said to me, “You need to think bigger.”

I reviewed the general strategy and laid out my plans once more. He said, “No bigger! Think bigger.”

I had explained that I had operated bigger businesses with more locations, more people and more of just about everything — including headaches, hurdles and pain points. At the time, I didn’t want to “think bigger.” For me, small was the new big.

The buyout attempt failed. It was a 3-year grind, but unlike a pregnant woman who gives birth after 9 months…this gestation period ended up without a birth. Instead, it was a death.

The death of a dream. The death of a goal. The death of a plan and strategy. It had been a few years since my friend had urged me to “think bigger.” Now, I mocked his advice. “See, if I had thought bigger I’d be holding a much bigger funeral,” I said. It was just snarkiness to mask the disappointment.

The disappointment didn’t last long. Within a few months I was grateful and thankful. I had chased other things that never worked out. My heart had been broken many times before because a deal had fallen through. When you start out in business at a young age and wind your way through the maze of business success (as I had), you endure many disappointments along the way. They sting like crazy in the moment, but over time you’re able to look back with a different perspective. In the rearview mirror, almost all my disappointments look like blessings.

Time shrinks big disappointments.

And dulls the pain.

So, do you avoid thinking big in order to avoid big disappointments? It’s like that adage, “It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” Easier said than done. When you’re heart is broken due to lost love, you’re likely wishing you’d never allowed love in to begin with. Sadly, that presupposes that losing love is the natural outcome…and it implies it’s the most likely outcome. But that’s not true. Love doesn’t have to be lost any more than dreams have to be crushed, or buyouts have to fail.

My buyout attempt failed. That was great, for me. It doesn’t mean your buyout will fail. It doesn’t mean my next effort – if there ever is one – will fail.

I’m not naive enough to believe that failure leads to success. It may. It may not. My failed buyout attempt didn’t lead to any success. It did help me avoid a colossal trap of being stuck in a business I may have learned to hate. I loved it at the time, but I can now see that over time, that love may have been tough to sustain. Call it failure averted by failure.

All this got me to thinking about this new year along with the new dreams and goals that accompany each new year.

In the last episode (no. 200) I referred to 2014 as the year of finding your element. Okay, to be honest, I’m hoping to find my own element in 2014. Lots of people are right there with me! Element finding isn’t the exclusive domain of kids or young people. Some of us older folks are searching for newer elements.

It’s not easy, but it can be fun.

Happy New Year!


P.S. Grab a BIG blank sheet of paper and think big thoughts for 2014. Then, take BIG ACTION.

Episode 201 - Ballard Street illustrates thinking bigger

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