Tired of dreaming small?

On Friday, friend and client of 2.5 years, Rebecca Bass-Ching said to me, “I’m tired of dreaming small.”

Now, Rebecca doesn’t suffer from small dreams. She is an accomplished marriage & family therapist with an integrative, evidence-based practice in San Diego. Her practice includes other therapists, a dietician, massage therapist, and a yoga therapist/instructor. She’s on the hunt for more practitioners, as well.

Potentia Therapy is a big dream.

So her statement took me aback at first. I thought about it a little more.

What I think Rebecca was really talking about was the quest for something not yet envisioned — innovation.

She wants to innovate in the way she builds her practice, in the way she serves her clients, and in the way she grows her influence. She is tired of following a formula for success. She’s ready to forge her own path.

Most of us start by dreaming small. It’s the small dreams that encourage us & guide us. This regularly happens in the blogosphere. One person’s success leads to a litany of others who try to replicate it. But it also happens in Silicon Valley, Wall Street, and main street. But, at some point, most of realize that dreaming small isn’t going to cut it. We wake up to the fact that things aren’t as they seem and either quit or look towards our own paths.

Of course, the difficulty in forging your own path is that you have to clear all the mental brush that stands in the way of moving in the direction of something that is not yet known.

In business, that means that you aren’t following the map of someone else’s success from tactic to tactic, but instead you are measuring every next step against the needs & desires of your customers.

Where before there was this-is-how-it’s-done imitation of others’ success, there can now be all manner of products, business models, and solutions that allow you to achieve your big dreams.

Your big dreams may take the form of an app, foundation, event, licensing, facilitation… or an as of yet unimagined kind of product.

When you’re tired of dreaming small, you’re really saying that you’re tired of dreaming others’ dreams.

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You are ready to imagine all that is available to you, including that which might even have been imagined yet.

Innovation – dreaming big dreams for yourself and the people you are leading – requires unwavering confidence in your ability to deliver. It also requires the confidence to tell your customers where you want to take them. As Michael Schrage wrote, “They’re not stupid; they’re skeptical. They want to make sure they’re going in the right direction.” Offer a vision of where you wan to take your customers – through a message, an idea, a product, or a service – and they’ll gladly try something new.

The success of your business doesn’t rely on a formula — and it sure doesn’t rely on predictability.

You have the tools – a bright & clear vision and the ability to deliver – to imagine new areas to explore in your business that are anything but small.

The best thing you can do is get outside the comfort of the small dream you’ve been living up until now. Instead of seeking out the experts of the dream you’ve been dreaming, seek out the leaders of other dreams. Talk to business owners in other industries, other business models. Discover new ways of doing old things.

Allow yourself to connect the dots in different ways and you’ll find that you’ve got the schematics for a much bigger dream.