Did you know that on the ocean, the horizon is only 8 nautical miles away? When my family and I crossed the Atlantic in 2011, rather than being awed by the expanse it felt like we were sailing in a bubble.
The same is true for many of us in life. We live in a bubble defined by our upbringing, our education, our social circle. These things define what we believe to be true. But like Columbus, we need to break away from ‘common beliefs’ and instead, lift our sights and see a broader horizon.
Unfortunately, this is a barrier too great for most. According to current ABS figures, the average small business owner innovates less than half as much as their corporate big brothers. Even of those, 1 in 3 of those fail to innovate. It seems that rather than reaching for new heights, many business owners are content with what is known, what is common… and therefore what is average.
Our limitations come from the limits of our imagination and the limits of our thoughts, knowledge and beliefs. We need to break this myopia which can only be done through inquiry, learning and the inspiration of others.
A LITTLE INSPIRATION
So what can you do? Here are a few personal habits I have for keeping my sights high:
- I follow people that inspire me. If you’re lacking imagination, borrow someone else’s. As a teenager I was lucky to spend a lot of time with self-made men in my sailing circles. These people showed me that there was a broader horizon available than the one my family and friends knew of.
- I spend time with people who are smarter than I. Nothing lifts your game like watching, speaking to and spending time with those you’re in awe of. These people can be mentors, authors or industry experts.
- I suspend disbelief. Instead of saying “I can’t”, I say “I can’t yet (but I’ll be able to work it out eventually)”. Imagination, inspiration, dreams and most importantly, self-efficacy are the foundations of a life lived to its full potential.
AN EXERCISE TO GET YOU STARTED
When trying to define your new horizons, it’s common for people to get stuck and not know where to begin. Here’s a simple exercise that I use to get going:
Take yourself to a quiet corner and write the following phrase: “I see a future where…” and then complete the sentence…and the next… and the next. In fact, keep writing, uncensored, unedited for the next 30min. This becomes your personal vision statement – your own strategic intent, capturing all of your hopes, aspirations and dreams.
I like to draw mine as a mind map and stick it on the fridge where I can see it. Other people like to create vision boards. Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter. Just capture it, document it and then let it ignite your dreams, because focusing your imagination has powerful effects.
Of course there’s action required to bring these things to fruition (read my blog on accountability) but this is a great place to start.
LIFT YOUR SIGHTS
So lift your sights, dream of distant shores and a new reality from the one you know today.
And then start! Like Columbus, act with courage. Cast off and reach for a new and broader horizon than the one you’ve known and lived so far.
Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and Chairman of a number of family and private enterprises, Matthew is the founder of Board Associates and specialises in innovation and strategic marketing.