I live near an ocean. After breakfast I go to a beach to collect shells. I hold one up to my ear and imagine that I’m listening to the whisper of ancient waves, which were breaking on this beach thousands of years ago – the sound of a world that perished a long time ago.
It sounds like the dream of a soda seller, but for a head of sales for some big wholesale supplier of canned peas it may become a goal.
Right, there are dreams, and there are goals. But how could we describe such a strange situation: when a soda seller transfers his dream of a big house near an ocean from his “dreams” category to his “goals”, he starts to believe that it’s possible, and in this way he gives it the chance to come true?
So, who believes that he will succeed? I guess no more than 10% of those who hear about it. Most of this 10% group are optimists who just don’t care about how difficult a task is (you are likely to know optimists like these – you know, the guy who holds your shoulder, smiles and says: “Don’t worry, everything is going to be ok,” – but after a couple of minutes he says the exact opposite). It’s great if you find at least one person who has already made his dreams become goals and achieved them.
Who are the other 90%? They are all of us – a big grey mass of practical people who are absolutely sure that life is life, and one can’t jump over one’s head.
No, of course, everyone has achieved something. For example: if the goal is to buy a car. The solution is to get credit. However, there is a wide and deep abyss between goals which can easily be achieved and dreams. Realistic goals, which are regarded as achievable by most people who are stubborn enough, are common place. While “dreams – goals” are not. The world changes when they are achieved. At least it does for you.
These are the goals that you secretly want to achieve more than anything else, the goals about which older, more practical people – our parents and grandparents – always told you:
- Are you crazy? Who wants to become an astronaut these days? Being a doctor sounds more realistic.
Or have laughed at some shy boy who confessed: I want to become a billionaire.
- You? A billionaire? A billionaire must know how to count money. You’d better dream about becoming an official with such poor grades at school.
We were told that in real life you must long for realistic things and dream about a career as an official. One is forced to believe and accept the inevitable. Dreams don’t come true, not in this life. After some time such dreams even become funny, while nobody even thinks about making a single step in front of them. Occasionally, you start turning into a more practical man. If the iron curtain of life's circumstances doesn’t let you come close to your “big plans” then such is life. How can I dream about something that can’t come true and so on. Is this the kind of person you want to become?
But here comes our soda seller again – a big dreamer. He needs a two-story 500 square meters white house, standing alone on the shore of the Atlantic ocean in Tenerife. And he won't miss a single piece of his dream. He made it his goal. He must earn a million dollars. Can you imagine how large-scale he must take his soda business? And which global way of inner changes and improvements he is to go by?
Do you want him to make his dream come true? Yes, I think that deep inside you sympathise with him, like with a fictional adventure hero. You identify with him, worry about him, because you (somewhere in the deepest corner of your soul) are this soda seller with big dreams, which didn’t come true, because the world didn’t give you a chance.
The trump card of all practical people is to look at the world in a sober way. Well, let’s do it:
- Henry Ford, before founding his company, was a homeless child in his adolescence who ran away from home to Detroit.
- All the members of The Beatles grew up in working-class districts in Liverpool, and their families were of modest means. The most realistic scenario for all of them was getting a traditional labour job.
- Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of IKEA, was born and grew up in a small village in Sweden. His father gave him a little money for good grades, and Ingvar opened a business. This business is now a globally recognised brand.
- Howard Schultz grew up in Brooklyn in public housing. Now he is the head of Starbucks.
- Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, started as a very mediocre sportsman. After few attempts at track-and-field athletics he decided it was time to do something different – this way he started an extremely profitable business.
You could continue this list forever – there a lot of people in this world who achieved everything from scratch, people who built themselves.
What are the first steps for a soda seller?
First of all, he has to admit that he’s a zero. Admit the truth: he hasn’t achieved anything yet. Everything he has done have been steps away from his goal. It’s time to look in the mirror and say: nobody needs you, you are scum with grandiose ambitions. You must achieve the right to have them.
Don’t listen to practical people who “wish him the best”: oh, I tried it by myself, it’s so hard, forget it. Opinions of a grey mass (which is 90% of those around) should mean nothing.
The people who are worth listening to are the ones who have achieved something by themselves.
Make a choice – it’s the main thing that our soda seller should do. If a man is put in the situation where he can do something or not, he’ll choose the easier way – and not to do it. Our whole life consists of such situations. The choice is yours. Transferring your wishes from “dreams” to “goals” means believing that they are realistic, giving them chance to come true.
But they won’t come true just like that – this is what oppresses people the most and makes them surrender. It’s not enough to say: I want it. You must also decide on and take action every day, you must learn to make hypotheses: do exactly what can achieve the desired result in the end and check your hypotheses this way. Make a list of 100 or more points that can push you at least one step closer to your goal. 90% of these points may make absolutely no sense, all of them may seem useless. But they are not. While implementing them, you’ll write another 100 points, made according to your previous mistakes, so the new points won’t be useless. Then you’ll make even more points and so on. Your attack must be full-scale. Striking the same spot over again is fruitless, you must expand the field of actions.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Only those people who do nothing don’t make mistakes. The fear of making a mistake is a typical psychological characteristic of a pimply boy who is afraid to talk to a girl he likes and “say something wrong”. How do you think this will go? What is he going to be sorry about for the rest of his life? That’s right – about the time he didn’t start talking to her. And the fact that he avoided some mistake won’t make him feel warmer.
Spend 10,000 hours mastering a skill. In his book “Outliers: The Story of Success”, Malcolm Gladwell writes about the rule of 10,000 hours: this is the time that a person must spend to master anything. Thus, our soda seller has to work hard for years, if he is really serious about achieving his goal.
Learn to live in chaos. Imagine that one normal Thursday evening you decide to ride to your home after work (where you do usual things) on an unfamiliar route – it’s already an unusual decision. Your inner voice will immediately ask you a logical question: why? But it’s not the voice of reason. It’s the voice of a person who wants to be like those who were inspiring us to be practical since our early childhood.
Why did this voice appear? That’s why it’s hard for you to decide – you are pretty much ready, what’s so difficult about it? But still, it’s hard to decide to do something unusual. Just make it happen. And you’ll get home a little bit different a person.
The task which is much harder is to become a completely different person. The one who always changes routes.