The Discipline To Reaching Big Dreams

A friend of mine worked for a premium group of family-owned restaurants. When we met he would often share his dream of opening his own restaurant. Over time his thoughts became more concrete, developing a theme, dishes for a menu. He couldn’t wait to get out on his own.

Then one day he called. “I did it!”

My friend explained to me that he just quit his job. He and his wife had spent the last four years to saving enough money to pay the franchise fees for a sandwich shop and to supplement their living expenses.

“But that’s not your dream.” I protested.

“It’s the first step.” He explained that today he did not have the reputation or experience to attract the kind of investment he would need to start his dream restaurant. Instead he purchased franchise rights to two stores and got an SBA loan to balance for rest of the start up costs. He and his wife will operate the store using the franchise’s proven formula, to gain deeper experience in the day-to-day management of their own business.

After they mastered running the first store they would open the second. That’s step 2.

Then after building up both stores they would sell them for the money to start the restaurant they really wanted, having acquired both the knowledge and contacts needed to make it successful. Step 3.

As he spoke I marveled at his thinking. It’s so smart and so clear.

I thought of all the people I knew who also had big dreams, but couldn’t see anything other than one huge leap. Their scorecards had some wins, but they weren’t all big, and the majority were ugly failures of lost time and investment.  And the bruises received regardless of the final result.

My friend clearly saw his big dream at the top of the ladder.  More important was his ability to “build” the steps to get there, each large enough to grab his focus and maintain his excitement, each sufficiently reachable to provide him the chance to learn and grow, each stable enough to provide a solid foundation for the next step.

I knew he’d be successful. His vision and plan already were.

“Have a bias toward action – let’s see something happen now. You can break that big plan into small steps and take the first step right away.”

– Indira Gandhi


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