How to Become a Big Thinker

Yesterday, I wrote about how the mindset of a successful creative differs from less successful ones. I listed thinking big as the #1 characteristic. Several of my readers commented that they struggled with this.

Nerd Boyt with Large Glasses - Photo courtesy of ©, Image #16021175

Photo courtesy of ©

I certainly understand why. When we are young, parents and teachers tell us we can do anything and become whatever we want. But as we grow older, these same people tell us we must be more realistic.

Pretty soon, their collective voices becomes The Voice in our head. As soon as we have a big thought, we check ourselves: C’mon. Get real. That will never happen. You have to be more realistic. And so it goes. We mistake this for wisdom.

That was the mindset I had until I picked up The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz, Ph.D. This book was originally published in 1959. I read it for the first time in the late 80s. It forever changed my approach to life and work.

Since that time, I have become convinced that thinking big is not a gift, but a skill—one that anyone can develop. It starts by understanding the process and then consistently practicing it.

Here are seven steps to thinking big:

  1. Imagine the possibilities. Give yourself permission to dream. I remember doing this when I was writing my first book. I imagined what it would be like to be a bestselling author. I thought about what it would be like to see my book on the New York Times best sellers list.
  2. Write down your dream. This is the act that transforms a dream into a goal. Amazing things happen when you commit something to writing. I don’t fully understand how it works, but I have experienced it first-hand again and again. The phenomenon is explained in a very compelling book by Henriette Klauser called Write It Down, Make It Happen.
  3. Connect with what is at stake. This is your rationale. Unfortunately, it is a crucial step that people often omit. Before you can find your way, you must discover your why. Why is this goal important to you? What will achieving it make possible? What is at stake if you don’t? What will you lose? Your rationale provides the intellectual and emotional power to keep going when the path becomes difficult (which it will).
  4. Outline what would have to be true. Rather than merely asking how to get from where you are to where you want to go (strategy), I like asking what would have to be true for my dream to become a reality. For example, when I set a goal of hitting the best sellers list, I realized that I would have to write a compelling book, become its chief spokesperson, get major media exposure, etc. I started with the dream and worked backwards.
  5. Decide what you can do to affect the outcome. This is where you transition from the big picture to daily actions. This is where people often get derailed. They can’t see all the steps that will take them to their goal. So rather than doing something, they do nothing. You will never see the full path. The important thing is to do the next right thing. What can you do today to move you toward your dream?
  6. Determine when this will happen. Someone once said that a goal is simply a dream with a deadline. A deadline is one way to make the dream more concrete—which is exactly what thinking big is about. A deadline also creates a sense of urgency that will motivate you to take action. Force yourself to assign a “by when” date to every goal. (If you get stuck, ask yourself, What’s the worst that can happen if I don’t hit this?)
  7. Review your goals daily. When I was writing my first book, I reviewed my goals daily. I prayed over them. I determined what I needed to do today to make them a reality. It gave me a laser focus, especially when the dream looked impossible—when the publisher called to cancel the contract, when my publicist told me no one was interested in the book, when the publisher ran out of inventory right after the book hit the best sellers list.

Don’t listen to that mocking little voice that tells you to be more realistic. Ignore it. You can either accept reality as it is or create it as you wish it to be. This is the essence of dreaming—and thinking big.

Question: What is the dream that is near and dear to your heart? Go on, put it out there! You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Philipp Knoll

    It is especially hard to go your own ways coming from a family that for generations did whatever they did within “the system”. My relatives have been employed by the government for centuries. Not so much creativity – in work as well as in creating the life you desire – there.

    It is one thing to discover what you are meant to do – what your true path should be. To find out what your passion is and what you are good at. I can happily say that I have almost mastered this part. 

    What I’m currently fighting with is, and this is the number two step, making the ones around me, the ones I care about such as parents or other similarly close people understand that THIS is it for me and teach them to respect my decisions. At best even support my decisions.

    Thanks for the book referral once again, Michael. I’ll certainly get a copy f this one.

    • Chris Patton

      Philipp, I obviously do not know your situation with those close to you.  However, I made a dramatic change in the direction and purpose of my life roughly eight years ago.  Virtually no one close to me understood the change and maybe one or two respected and supported me through that process.  

      For the first four or five years, I tried to do what you are talking about – make them understand my reasoning (maybe even agree with me!) and teach them to respect my decisions.  I finally came to the conclusion that this is truly not possible.  At least it is not a good investment of my time.

      Jesus said we have to “hate” our mother, father, brothers, sisters, etc. to follow Him.  My take on that is to be willing to lose them for the sake of God’s purpose for me.  I simply cannot spend an unreasonable amount of time, energy, and focus trying to convince those around me to treat me in a certain way.

      Instead of spending your time doing that, you really need to take that same time, energy, and focus and pour it into your “true path.”  Watch the movie, “Rudy” and get a perfect illustration of this!  

      • Philipp Knoll

        Thanks, Chris. I appreciate your insight on this. You are right, convincing someone to treat me a certain way is not what I should be investing my time and energy in. I guess I’m right in the middle of understanding this and actually taking it to heart and acting accordingly.

        I always used to be very close with my parents when I was a kid and I guess it is just very hard to accept that even the relationship to your parents changes from time to time. At times I find myself trapped in the middle of wanting to still retain that parents-kids relationship while at the same time wanting to be treated as an adult.

        I’ll check out your movie recommendation, thanks!

        • Chris Patton

          I have a couple more thoughts, but I am glad to see one has been mentioned by Brad Bridges below.  The first thought is that you should focus all of your energy, time, and effort into following that true path, but know that many of your early detractors will likely come around once you have proven yourself and your path.  Don’t count on it or you will just slip right back into a pattern of trying to please them, but certainly recognize that they may eventually be your biggest supporters!
          The other thought, though a little difficult to accept when they are close to you (especially parents), is that many of your detractors (or doubters) may not be doing so because of anything about you or their lack of confidence in you.  It may be all about them.

          You see, when you dream BIG and start to share that dream, you are unknowingly shining a light on their lack of big dreams.  Even your parents can react like this.  Though they love you and want the best for you, there could be a BIG dream in their closet that was hidden there years ago for any number of reasons.

          Maybe they were told it was impossible and they gave up.  Maybe they decided to delay it to have kids and never returned to it.  Worse, they may realize they never had a dream and now look back feeling they wasted opportunities.  Whatever the reason, they may have serious regrets.  Now you show up with this BIG dream and it reminds them of their missed opportunity.

          While this is really not your problem, recognizing it for what it is can certainly help you to understand why they may be acting the way they are.  It may also help you handle their rejection without taking it personally.

          Whatever the issues with them, you simply cannot allow their reactions to stop you from your dreams.  This is a long thread of responses to Michael’s post because it touches a need deep within each of us – a need for significance!  Follow your God-given true path and you will not regret it!

          • Brad Bridges

            Chris, Well said. I couldn’t agree more and think that your point about how their resistance may be completely unrelated to you is excellent. Even more reason why we should avoid being constant people pleasers. 

          • TNeal


            Both of your threads are spot on. The latter about parents’ reaction crossed my mind as well. A person launches out for lands unknown and everyone says, “What? Our place wasn’t good enough?”

    • Paul B Evans

      Hi Philipp! I come from an “education” family. They loved they safety of the educational system (at the time.) When I started dreaming they were worried that I would end up poor and heartbroken.

      When I began making more money than anyone previously in the family – and from following my dreams! – they were not about to follow, but that began to appreciate my individualism.

      • Philipp Knoll

        Learning to let go and accept things they way they are is hard. I believe that I have come a very long way already but the learning never stops.

        I just try to stay open minded and learn to accept my kids sometimes wild ideas early on so that I can fully appreciate their way through life when they are adults. I really hope I can make that happen…

        Thanks for your feedback!

    • Sundi Jo Graham

      I get where you’re coming from. My family does this well. I moved away from them for several reasons, one being the further away, the less they could control my life. I know I’m talked about and still misunderstood, but I’m pursuing dreams and God’s hand is over them, so I’m not worried anymore. 

      Praying for your guidance and open hearts in your situation. 

      • Philipp Knoll

        Sundi, this is exactly what we are up to. Getting more distance between the ones we care about and ourselves. There are so wonderful ways to stay connected and the physical distance will help a lot.

        • Sundi Jo Graham

          Yes. That’s the power of email and phones :)

          • Brad Bridges

            and Skype, WhatsApp, Vonage, and airplanes. :)

    • Michael Hyatt

      That’s gotta be tough. My guess is that the best approach is to dream, but only share your goals with people whose help you need. Otherwise, stay mum. Let the results speak for themselves.

      • Philipp Knoll

        Thanks, Michael. This post is another one that you published just at the right time. I love your advice to be careful whom to share your dreams with. I guess I wasn’t careful enough in the past and ended up discouraged many times as a result. I normally get back on track but days, sometimes weeks and tons of energy are lost on the way.

      • Robert Ewoldt

        Yes, there are those that will encourage you on toward your goals, and other that will try to tear you down.  It’s best to reveal your goals to the encouragers, and let the others watch from a distance.

        • Rama Kabelele

          Amazing amounts of wisdom here. Thanks guys!! Rama
          Kabelele from Tanzania.

    • Brad Bridges

      Philipp, Thanks for your transparency on this issue and your willingness to grow. I think a few others have already written along these lines, but would it be possible for you to focus on delivering results and allow them to “come on board” when they are ready? My guess is that you (and everyone else) will always have late adopters who question, doubt, or discourage you. That may indicate you are a leader or forward thinker, or both. How could you use their questions, doubts, or difficult words in a positive way? 

      • Philipp Knoll

        Brad, this is an excellent point of view! Convincing the doubters by actions and success is certainly a great way to go with this. I guess you are right – this is one way to actually be a leader. Succeed for yourself and lead others by your example.

        Thanks for sharing this thought. I haven’t seen my situation from that angle, yet – especially with family involved it is not always easy.

        • Brad Bridges

          Philipp, I can’t imagine how difficult it is with family. It makes painful words much more painful I would guess. While taking someone through a 360 degree feedback process recently, I discussed how they had the opportunity to see ALL (well maybe not 100%) feedback as a gift…even the negative or hurtful feedback. I doubt I’ll ever “get there” and but it is a goal I’m striving towards in an effort to be and continue becoming more teachable and humble.

          I think people give feedback (positive, constructive, or hurtful) because of one (or more) of the following: they trust you, they want the best for you, they want to work with you, they respect you, they need your input in their life, and/or they are hurting. But as you say, with family that is not easy (and likely a lifelong process). 

          Don’t give up. 

  • Craig Jarrow

    Love this post, Michael.

    I think many people set their goals too low. They need to think bigger!

    Only by stretching our limits, do we expand them.

    Of course, after you THINK big… you have to DO big. :)

    • Robert Ewoldt

      Yes, follow-through is crucial… you can’t just make goals.  Looking at your goals each day, as Michael suggests, helps you to keep them in your mind, and keep you focused like a laser on them.

  • John Richardson

    Start with the dream and work backwards. So true! I’ve been amazed in life what you can accomplish if you can actually see it and believe it. It really helps to have pictures or photos of your dream to keep you motivated. When I did the Body for Life program back in 2004, it seemed impossible. But the photos in the book of the amazing transformations that people made in their lives in just 12 weeks, were proof that it worked. When I looked in the mirror after my 12 weeks, I was 26 pounds lighter, and my body fat had plummeted from 29% to 18%. I hardly recognized the person in the mirror.

    I became a true believer that setting goals and setting aside a time to actually do them can result in dreams coming true. 12 weeks seems to work well for most projects. My current goal is to put my goal setting ideas in an e-book format and have it online by the end of the year. What really helps is your number 7, review your goals daily. I use small business cards to keep my goals in front of me where I can see them. This keeps the goal top of mind where they can be acted upon. I put these cards into a goal setting toolkit which your readers can download for free at

    Thanks for the encouragement today, Michael! Those nattering nabobs of negativity have been knocked off my shoulders and I’m ready to go! Simon Sinek has a great TED video about the WHY aspect. Definitely worth a watch at

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, John. Your goal-setting stuff is great.

      I did Body for Life, too, and the pictures motivated me as well!

  • Sherri

    This is such a great post. Have you read the book, SUN STAND STILL: What happens when you dare to ask God for the impossible, by Steven Furtick? It is about audacious faith and living a life of “big” things because of our faith – or rather, in whom we place our faith. 

    We limit ourselves so often because of fear, lack of confidence, fear (did I say that already, it’s a really big one!) We also let others dictate to us what we believe to be possible in our own lives, instead of trusting God to take us where we need to go. That is always to a bigger place than we imagine. (Jeremiah 29:11)

    As I read this book I’m blogging about it, one chapter at a time. That is helping me to process it and think about how to apply the concept of audacious praying and audacious faith to my own life. What a perfect timing for your post! Thank you. 

    (   – if anyone wants to check it out.  Today’s chapter was on The Simplest Systematic Theology Ever – hint: God is Great, God is Good)

    • Michael Hyatt

      I have been meaning to read this book. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Elizabeth

    Very comprehensive list, for me #6 is the most critical.  I’m great at dreaming big but never seem to get around to implementing.  For change to occur action must be taken.  Right now I’m looking into making a change to my blogging and have set a January 1st launch date for myself.  By having that date front of mind I keep working towards the goal.  If I didn’t have the date in mind then it would never happen because of the ‘noise’ of life.  Working it like a project plan has been helping meet core dates like blog design, etc.

    Thanks for the great insight you provide.

  • Leah Adams

    I totally get the dreaming BIG thing. However, there is a fine line between dreaming big and desiring big in a prideful, look at me, it’s all about me sort of way. That is the tightrope I walk. When I told a close family member about my call to ministry in 2007, their immediate response was, “well, you will just make it all about you”. Honestly, I almost quit before I even got started. I knew God had called me but I also knew that person was partially right. I do have the typical Type A, I can do it all personality. The last thing I wanted was for the call to ministry to become about ME.  So, I think we must constantly keep our BIG dreams before the Lord and let Him decide how BIG we should be.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I think you have to be careful here, Leah. I think that this is one of the way the Enemy throttles us back. He whispers, “This is all about you, isn’t it? You are an egotist!” His goal is to get us to give him on our dreams before we even begin. Yes, we should check our ego and make sure our motives are right, but never let this become an excuse for thinking small.

      • Kristina Vandiver

        I can so relate to this.  The enemy will whisper, “It’s all about you” even when I’m giving someone a note of encouragement or help secretly.  The truth I’ve learned (am learning still) is that if the Lord calls me to do something, or if the Lord exalts me, he will protect me from pride.  I have to cooperate with Him on this, no doubt, but the provision for humility is there.

        • Leah Adams

          You are spot on correct, Kristina. I trust every day that He will do just that for me. And He does.

      • Leah Adams

        I know, Mr. Hyatt and I allowed the Lord to speak truth to my heart and then moved forward into ministry under His leadership.

        • Robert Ewoldt

          That is a good attitude to have, Leah.  Thanks for the comment.

  • John Lambert

    Michael-I love being reminded of having the freedom to have this type of thinking. In the part of the world where I work, there is not as much room for mentality.  Everyone is taught to not want anything because it will bring suffering and suffering is to be avoided at all costs.  If anything good comes in life, it comes because of past actions in one’s past life.  The same is true for anything bad.  There is a fatalism that permeates certain societies.  Thank God for our freedom to pursue our dreams and believe that all things are possible!

  • Paul B Evans

    #7 hits home for me. I even like to rewrite them daily. It forces me to reengage and really question if these are the goals I really need to be pursuing.

    • Brad Bridges

      Paul, Plus they start to get on your nerves if you don’t accomplish them in a reasonable time because you are looking at them all the time. 

      • Paul B Evans

        No doubt!!

  • Ann

    my publicist told me **know** one was interested in the book, when the

    A typo – I’m shocked. Good message.

  • Sundi Jo Graham

    Getting a book published. Sharing my testimony with millions of hurting women. I have begun to visualize through prayer, these things happening, as well as speaking it out. I have to work harder at it when those days of “Get real” come into play. 

    I read somewhere once that you need to have a big goal, then set into motion little goals to reach the BIG one. 

  • Anonymous

    Another great post, Michael, full of wisdom and spark. My dream is to write novels – plenty of ‘em – and preferably ones that people actually want to read. Step 3 and 4 are especially important, allowing the dream to become a target, something concrete that can be reached by baby steps. Thanks for sharing.

  • Paul Coughlin


    My dream, nearest and dearest to my heart.. 

    To help people realise that we all have a personal and high value purpose – unique to us – which already exists. To coach people through the process of discovering that, connecting to it, and creating a life around it – a life which has meaning and purpose, and value – both for us, and for others.

    When we have that ‘fit’ – we move from apathy to inspiration, from confusion to clarity, from meandering to meaning and purpose. Everything changes – for the better. Our life becomes one signified by loving openly, living fully and leading confidently..

    thanks Michael.

  • Kelly Combs

    I think #3 is critical, not only what will you lose if don’t get your dream, but what will you lose if you DO!  I have dreams and goals, but right now I am a mom to  7 and 12 year olds.  I could push for my dreams now, and have speaking engagements every weekend, but what would I be missing?  My gifting may be to writing and speaking, but my ministry is to my family at this time.  

    And if I were to die tomorrow, I certainly wouldn’t say, “I wish I’d had more speaking engagements.” I would be completely fulfilled knowing that my time was spent nurturing and raising my daughters.

    *But* one day, I will be chasing, and perhaps even living those “far out” dreams.  Until then, my dreams of being a mom have come true.  And I am loving every minute of it…well most of them anyway. 

    • Michael Hyatt

      Really, really good point. Be careful what you dream for!

  • anthonymclean

    I needed this today! I am in pre-production on my first film and I am thinking big!

    I have often wondered if Joseph made a mistake in telling his brothers about the dream he had for his life. Is the moral of the story, “Don’t share your big dreams with people or you’ll end up in an Egyptian Jail?”

    Recently, I shared my dream for this film with a friend in the field whom I admire. In not so many words, my friend patted me on the back and told me it was impossible. I was deflated. And it has made me feel naive for being a dreamer. I figured I’ll take a lesson from Joseph and not share my dreams with the outside world… The sad part is, I have started to become more silent in my own thoughts about this dream. But this post is making me want to SHOUT inside!

    My question is, should I share my dreams with people? I don’t want to come across as arrogant or ignorant as to the difficulty of the path ahead, I am prepared for a hard road and I know I need all the help I can get. Yesterday’s post on how successful creatives THINK differently than unsuccessful ones was extremely helpful. But should I share my big thoughts? Or just keep them to myself?

    • Michael Hyatt

      I wrote a post on this a while back: Should You Keep Your Goals to Yourself? I came to the conclusion that you should only share your goals with those who are part of helping you achieve them.

      • anthonymclean

        Thanks Michael! I just read that post and my lips are sealed…

    • John Richardson

      When people tell you that you can’t do something, it’s a great motivation to push forward and do it. I agree with Michael, just share your dreams with your mentors and not your detractors.

      • anthonymclean

        Thanks John! I just read the post and I agree with the wisdom of sharing your dreams with mentors and not detractors!

  • Tonya Barnes

    My dream….It is for the ministry that God birthed into my spirit about 8 years ago to become successful and for its territory to be enlarged!  It is GIRL (God Inspired Reborn Lady) Ministry.  It is a ministry that meets the needs of women through retreats, speaking, bible studies, etc.  I have a strong desire to write a book one day as well.   Thank you so much for your post and insight and encouragement on becoming a BIG thinker!   

  • Veronica

    Michael, great entry; and timely. I’m studying thoughts and how they affect the course of our llives. Finding your viewpoiont on the subject in my mailbox was definitely a wonderful suprise. Blessings!

  • Greg Dewling

    Think Big! See the glass as half full and then dream of it flowing over.

  • Kim Jones

    I want to be an international traveler, a sought after public speaker, a best-selling author, and e the CEO of a huge ministry. I want to make a difference in the lives of others through sharing wisdom from the stupid things I’ve done and things I’ve learned from observing the stupid mistakes of others. Remember my name, you’ll see it again.

  • Steve

    This is great stuff! I am going to check out both books referenced in your article and put the wheels in motion to start thinking big. This couldn’t come at a better time for me. 

  • Jacq

    Coincidentally, I just found another of David Schwartz’s books in a rummage sale and brought it home – having read The Magic of Thinking Big years ago.  (The “new to me” one is called “The Magic of Self Direction”.) 

    My methods for anything major I’ve achieved in the last 20 years has been using your methods, Michael.  So I’m curious to know what you think of the move away from productivity methods and goal setting that writers like Leo Babauta of zenhabits is espousing? 

    • Michael Hyatt

      Unfortunately, I am not that familiar with Leo’s work. I subscribe to his blog, but generally agree with him. How do you see our approaches as different? Thanks!

      • Jacq

        Hi Michael, thanks for the response!  It’s in this type of post that the approaches seem to be very different:

        This isn’t an issue for me since I don’t get overly attached to my goals and beat myself up if unforeseen circumstances mean that I can’t achieve them in the time frame I’d originally hoped to.  I also don’t find that having some future orientation prevents me from also being in the present moment – it’s not an either / or state IMO.  It could be that he’s throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

        From another post:
        “Goals keep you focused on something in the future, instead of being
        present and enjoying what you’re doing right now. Goals keep you fixed
        on one path, which might not be the best path in a week or a month or a
        year. They keep you fixated on one thing, rather than being open to new
        opportunities, being flexible as the landscape changes, being free to
        pursue something you’re newly passionate about rather than sticking to
        something you’re tired of.”

        In my experience, passion comes and goes.  I’m not excited to wake up and exercise every day and don’t expect to be.  We all hit sticking points along the journey to our goals and that’s where we might have to recommit or change what we’re doing or the timeline, or admit that outside circumstances dictate that it’s not sensible to pursue a particular goal at this point in time.  But sometimes… sometimes if you just push yourself a little bit out of your comfort zone, that’s where the rewards come in. 

        How many authors would like to abandon their writing and start a new book during the typical mid-book slump?  Lots, I bet.  The prolific ones persevere and the others have a stack of unfinished manuscripts gathering dust bunnies under the bed.

        • Michael Hyatt

          Based on those excerpts, I would respectfully have to disagree. But in the end, people need to do what works for them. Leo has obviously accomplished a great deal.

          • Anonymous

            I also enjoy reading Leo’s work, but find it interesting that he took a goals oriented approach to life to reach a point where he doesn’t need a goals oriented approach to life.

          • Michael Hyatt

            That is pretty funny.

          • Robert Ewoldt

            Hmmmm…. that’s interesting :)

        • Robert Ewoldt

          Yes, goals keep you fixated on one thing.  However, not having goals means that you have no focus.  Not having goals means that you let yourself be pulled in a myriad of different directions, and you end up going nowhere, oftentimes.

          If you find the direction you want to go in, set goals for yourself in that direction, to ensure that you KEEP going in that direction.  This doesn’t mean that you can’t change direction.  You periodically review your goals, and set new ones, if necessary.

  • Bonnie Clark

    Great post!  I found that working through your life-plan e-book gave me an opportunity to dream big, but also to balance my dreams for the various aspects of my life.  With two young children, I am not dreaming too big in some of the other areas of my life.

    Some of your readers might be interested in a recent post from Sally Hogshead on the “inner voice”.  She is recommending to “go for nervous”.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Sally’s post is awesome! I will post it to Twitter later. It is really worth sharing. Thanks.

  • Nickandkaren

    I like the thoughts you give! Excellent… My wife and I shifted to Amsterdam Europe, last year (in our 50’s) after leading churches for 26 years to plant churches that plant churches…planting networks of churches…crazy dream!! More about us on  

  • Beth West

    Michael, your posts are such a BIG help to me as I try to implement my amazing dream.  I feel that those of us who have goals many might say are a little out there could use all of the encouragement, inspiration and practical suggestions we can get.  Your blog is a constant source of positive thoughts.  Thank you so much!

  • Jplynch04

    We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams – Willy Wonka

  • Dr. Jason Cabler

    My dream is to turn my “Celebrating Financial Freedom” blog and home study course into a commercial success that will sell and spawn paid speaking engagements.  

    Ultimately my goal is to write a book that will change lives by inspiring people to get rid of the bondage of debt using solid biblical and common sense principles.  

    I’ve been doing this within my church and have seen great results on a small scale.  Now I’m bringing it out to the rest of the world.  It’s been an exciting challenge and I can’t wait to see it grow and develop.  

    I’m always looking for advice and constructive criticism from people who are already on that path, so I hope you’ll check me out and give some valuable and honest feedback.  It will always be greatly appreciated!

    • Brad Bridges

      What have you written so far? What steps might you need to take in order to build the platform that Michael Hyatt suggests prior to publishing a book? (

      • Dr. Jason Cabler

        I have not written a book yet, but I do have a personal finance course that I teach and sell a home study version on my blog site.  I am busy building a social platform through blogging, twitter, facebook, etc.  I’ve only been blogging for a little over a month now and I love it!  I intend for my blogging to build a base of writing that I can eventually turn into a book.  

        Just like Micheal says in his post, I am building my tribe before I have a book.  I didn’t know that was the best way to do it, but glad to know that so far I’m pursuing things in the right order.  I think I’ll be investing in the “Tribes” book by Seth Godin.

        • Brad Bridges

          Jason, the Godin book you mention is a wise investment. You may already be doing this but if you could begin giving away something (ie partial eBook, a chapter of your PF course, etc), it might generate interest in your course or increase your following online (much like Michael’s “Creating Your Life Plan” eBook has for him). 

          • Dr. Jason Cabler

            Yes, I plan on doing that in the near future.  I am working on a supplement to my course about “making it through tough times” that I will probably be giving away to get people interested.  Any other suggestions?

          • Brad Bridges

            Dr. Jason, I guess I have more questions than suggestions.
            – What types of resources would build your credibility?
            – Who are thought leaders you could guest blog post for in order to raise your exposure?
            – How could you leverage your current network(s) to build a following, generate leads, gain experience, receive produce input?
            – Who is doing what you are doing now and how could you differentiate yourself?

            Hope these are helpful.

  • Ron

    This gives me more material, as I make the subtle mind shift from “being careful” to “paying attention”.
    Those cautionary voices of the past are so very powerful, but as I pay attention to what God is doing in and around me God’s purpose and plan become more discernible.  
    Thanks for your insight!

  • Krissi

    I feel like I contributed to stealing big thinking from my kids instead of encouraging it. They are 12, 11, and 8. I am working on this very goal this year with them (I wasn’t calling it that)…thanks for this organized post. It is going to be my starting point.

  • Michael Whitcomb

    Thanks again Michael. Love reading these daily thoughts. I would echo some of the sentiment of dreaming big, then realizing God has the prerogative to change your plans and make you very small. When my goals are centralized around what God wants me to do because of the gospel, then Jesus’ words of moving mountains and faith the size of a mustard seed make sense. Keep writing. We’ll keep reading.
    Press on in grace.

  • Lindsey Tipple

    I want to find a way to marry my heart for missions and justice with my love for the arts. That’s my dream.

    • Brad Bridges

      You may want to check out: They try to do alot of what you describe in your comment. 

  • Lori Boruff,

    In #3, you asked “what will you lose?”  I will lose what I can give away.
    I will lose giving hope to the hopeless, financial assistance to build God’s kingdom, blessings to the unloved in this world.  That is a lot to lose. Thank you for helping me re-focus.

    A year ago my God-sized dream of starting radio was too big for me but not too big for God. Today, I’m interviewing experts, authors and recording artists who desire to be a voice of hope around the world.

    The next mountain to climb  is creating income so I can devote my time to spreading hope through radio, writing and speaking. Not sure how to do that but your blog is a piece to the puzzle. Thank You!

  • gwalter

    A few years ago, my wife an I were given the opportunity to start a church from scratch.  It was fun, we had some success – and some failures.  Indeed, we made many mistakes.  Over the past few years, we’ve been catching our breath, regaining our sanity, and trying to put things in perspective.

    I don’t have a problem thinking big.  But I do have trouble getting support for those ideas.  The other day my wife asked me, “If you could do whatever you want, what would it be?”

    Without hesitation I replied: “To start another church like Common Ground.”

    • Brad Bridges

      Your transparency is impressive and a model for many others (at least from the context of this comment you left). As you deal with these types of leadership issues, I’d encourage you to participate in a 360 degree evaluation, MBTI, Strengths Finders, etc (if you haven’t already). These tools will help you to better understand yourself, your “teaming” approach, and what impact who you are has had, is having, and will have on your relationships and leadership style. 

      Couple questions:
      – Who knows you well who might be able to speak into your questions?- What does your wife say?
      – What are your strengths? What types of people do you need around you?Hope this is helpful. Keep your head up and keep dreaming. 

  • Stuart Loe

    My dream is to record all the songs I’ve written  and make at least one album to give to my friends and family.

    • Brad Bridges

      What steps do you need to take to get there? What’s keeping you from taking this idea from a dream to reality?

      • Stuart Loe

        Those are two great questions and as I read them, they hit me between the eyes.  I think the steps I need to take depend on the quality of the recording I would make.  Step one could probably be just using my digital camera’s HD record functionality to record them as videos and then posting them on my website.  Then, as time permits, separate out the audio from the video in imovie/garageband and export them as mp3’s OR lay down more tracks OR find a friend with some better recording equipment.

        The biggest obstacle at this point in my life is time.  I have 6-month old twins that I adore and a beautiful wife.  It is hard to find time to steal away from them.  And it truly does feel like stealing sometimes.

  • Jacqui_gatehouse

    Hej Michael, what a wonderful, practical post.  Funny that I just drafted a post to help people set their goals when it comes to achieving their ideal weight, so I’ll definitely add a link to your Big Thinker to get them even more inspired.

  • Anonymous

    I find it especially difficult to dream big when there are few individuals around me who are dreaming big as well.  I have been very convicted by one of your earlier posts that talked about the need to have a group of guys who can hold me accountable, keeping me sharp as “iron sharpens iron.”  It is also difficult when I believe I have exceeded the capacity of my current mentors.  I struggle with thinking big when my mentors do not share that same attitude for their lives.  Though they mean well, I find it difficult to not come away feeling like I am on an island.
    I guess my question is how do I find mentors who value the same things I do in life (e.g., my relationship with God, desire for excellence, increasing my capacity) when I do not have access to these big thinkers?

    Michael, I am attending the Building Champions Experience so I look forward to hearing your thoughts next week.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Great. I look forward to meeting you there.

  • Francarona

    Great concrete suggestions, Michael. This post is definitely going into my Evernote.

  • Brad Bridges

    My gut reaction when I read this post was: some of us are dreamers who struggle to deliver and others of us are exceptional at delivering results but struggle to dream (I’m sure there are exceptions). Perhaps teaming up with others who have strengths in your area of weakness sets up both people for success rather than trying to become skilled in an area of weakness (this isn’t to say we should ignore our weaknesses and not improve them at all). 

  • Anonymous

    Another good book related to this topic:  Charles Stanley’s Success God’s Way

  • TCAvey

    thank you for breaking down the steps and adding clarity.  

  • Stephen Lynch

    If I were to dream big, my dream is that my music can be a catalyst for change in the Christian music industry. That Christian radio would begin to see the impact and benefit of partnering with positive music with a positive message, even if it’s not “vertical” or “worship”.

    Taking pen to paper and starting to make the change today! Thanks for the encouragement Michael!

  • Drew Gneiser

    I love what Will Smith says about this topic –

    realistic is the most commonly traveled road to mediocrity. Why would
    you be realistic? What’s the point of being realistic? … It just seems
    like such a ridiculous idea to me to embrace the idea that ‘Its not
    gonna happen or that’s not real.’” The moment you decide to be realistic, you can pretty much guarantee The Voice will dominate and it won’t happen.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I love that quote! Thanks.

  • Mischelle007

    Wow! Again some encouraging words. Thank you. 

    Part of my problem has been identifying what my great goals or true desires are. I have many interests, but several continue to come back repeatedly. One involves health, the other writing fiction.

    The ministry side of the health issue has tied my hands to do anything else because I feel that I have a responsibility to tell people about the dangers of our current food supply. So I started a blog called Starting the blog freed me up to begin working on a fiction project that has been burning inside of me for some time. So now I am working on two passionate projects.

    Thank you for giving us permission to think big and giving us some steps to move in that direction. We will see where the Lord takes these projects as I persevere. 

  • tonychung

    Michael: The most important step is “what would have to be true”. I read Magic years ago but don’t remember that. Thanks for pointing it out.

    Asking “What must I do?” is tactical, whereas “What must be true” is situational. By thinking about the necessary conditions that might lead to favourable results, we hone our powers of observation to be able to recognize them.

  • Steve

    Can you explain how planning and dreaming fit in with being led by God?  I find that in general Christian authors either promote a “make it happen” approach while others promote “find out what God is doing and jump on the train” approach.

  • BethMcKamy

    “The Magic of Thinking Big”…..I love this book. One of my favorite in my library!

    Thanks once again Michael for giving me one of those “light bulb” moments!

  • Paula Whidden

    The dream dear to my heart is communication and growth in faith.  I’ve dreamt for years of having the ability to speak to groups of the grace and love of Christ in a vital way which causes a chain reaction of change.  To enable people to see God’s love from another direction than the one they’ve previously fixated on.  This dream involves writing multiple books on the topic, speaking before large and small groups and willling stepping out whenever a door opens to get more and more people into heaven because they choose it.  On that journey, I’m just beginning a blog… and have joined toastmasters to improve my speaking and listening skills.  This isn’t a sprint but a worldwide marathon. 

  • VerecundAmaranth

    Great article, Michael. Nothing to add, and, didn’t  originally want to share this quote your article reminded me of, but, re:  “be realistic” –

    “People who urge you to be realistic generally want you to accept their version of reality.”

    Often so true – within limits “of course” ;)

    • Brad Bridges

      That is a powerful quote (source?). I’d like to use it. 

      • VerecundAmaranth

        source – “unknown”.

  • Brett

    Every time I read a post like this, I go through the exercise (applying it to my career or family life or creative hobby). The problem is, I miss the ‘review daily’. Now I think I have 23 sets of goals saved in various folders and on various hard drives. I need to simplify and have one place w/ these things and review daily, pray through, and take courage and do it.

  • Classier Corn

    What a wonderful inspiring post. We must definitely be more open for “thinking outside the box”!

  • Rocky La Marr

    I want to start a contemporary, relevant church  in a rural town of about 4000, and to see that church reach thousands of people for lifechange!

  • Heather Holleman

    I love this!  Thank you!  I wonder if what prevents people from thinking big is simply fear of failure. 

  • Anne Marie Gazzolo

    Wonderful! My big dream/goal is to get my book published. And then the next one and the next one… Your life plan book is helping me greatly to sort all this out.
    God bless,  Anne Marie :)

  • Zo

    These are great guidelines.  I got stuck and went no further when I realized the book market was so saturated.  The voices came, you have nothing that isn’t already in print and so on.  I let it paralize me.  Perhaps then or even now, if I had an active support group-encouragement, I don’t know. Years of script are in boxes.  With much excitement I got half way through guidelines and gave up defeating my own dream. I walk past these boxes each day knowing life and freedom ly between the pages. Freedom for young women in the grasp of wounded emotions. My dream is boxed up! Don’t leave yours on the shelf only to bring a sadness to your heart. See the dream through.

  • Uma Maheswaran S

    Thanks for the suggestion of two beautiful books by Henriette Klauser and David Schwartz.

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  • Chrisjohnstoncoaching

    This is a tough one.  And I’ll probably be seen as the Debbie Downer.  That’s not the intent.

    And I do nothing but struggle with this.  Why?  We tend to only read about the successes.  But failures tend to only make the news or have books written about them only when they are catastrophic.  As an example, Enron.

    We read about people like Dave Thomas who stuck it out, thought big and won big.  Or Bill Gates or Steven Jobs or the other rags to glory stories.  And of course there are the stories that will never be published because the splash just wasn’t big enough. 

    But what we seldom get to read about is the 2000 other Dave Thomas like people that had the dream, thought big and and sadly failed even bigger. 

    How often have we seen people who hang on when they only ruined their life and often the lives of others (spouse/children)  in the long run chasing the dream that will never work for them but for some unique reason worked for another? 

    I’ve often seen Winston Churchill’s quote about never, never giving up.  But there does come a time when it’s appropriate to fold your tent.  And sometimes sooner than later.  The question is how to discern when the time is appropriate to stay with your dream and when to realize it’s time to maybe choose another one.

  • kimanzi constable

    My dream is to wake people up to the fact that they don’t have to work in jobs they hate just because “we have a bad economy, or there are no jobs”. The work and path that you are truly called to is out there, you have to kick fear and doubt to the side and run on that path. I wrote a book about this and write about these things on my website (click on my name to see). That is my dream to one day do this and only this for a living!  Thanks for this post Michael

  • Ricardo Bueno

    Someone once told me the recipe for success is: 

    1.) Clear Goals (insert the Think Big mentality here)
    2.) Hard Work
    3.) Unwavering Focus

    I think what keeps most of us from sticking to this outline is fear. Fear of failure. Once you can accept that you’re going to make mistakes and that it’s ok, it’s easier to move forward. The trick is of course to learn from those mistakes. And keep moving forward. 

    I’ve failed before. But in those failures I’ve also learned some valuable lessons and have found  success. 

  • Rich Procter

    Very inspiring. In my work I deal with clients who have big dreams but don’t know how to achieve them. I often point them to a great Ray Bradbury short story called “The Toynbee Convector.” In the story a man comes back from the future and describes an amazing world that has evolved past its problems to become a kind of utopia. Don’t want to give away the trick ending — read it! — but its a perfect illustration of the process so succinctly described here.

    “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that
    is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” (Thoreau)

  • Jessica K. Sullivan
    • Michael Hyatt

      Excellent! Thanks for writing this post and for applying mine. I think it will make a difference for you.

  • TMZ

    To go with Point #2 I would suggest saying your dream out loud as well. It’s one thing to write it down and see those magnificent words laid out before you, and it’s another to utter such crazy ridiculous amazing things with your own vocal chords.

    I just did it myself and got chills.

  • Ivanhoe Sanchez

    Mike, your post reminds me a lot of Steven Pressfield’s Do the Work: “Start from the end and work it out backward, don’t listen to that little voice, etc”.  I love your last point though.  I personally have to work harder on this one.

    My dream is to be the person at my workplace who drives the company from a non-social-media to a thiving social-media cultured company.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I love Steven Pressfield’s work!

  • Jaymie Dieterle

    My big goal/dream is to develop our small Christian elementary school library into a place where students come to connect with a book that expands their horizons – either that clicks with their imaginations or that helps them learn about things that will drive them toward their future. I want each student to see reading as a tool to get them the things they want in life. And my goal is to do my part to help each student read at grade level – or beyond – by the end of the school year.

  • Kristy L. Cambron

    There’s a difference between thinking big and really BELIEVING big, isn’t there? 

    In sincere belief is the concept of literally crossing over. You talk like it’s a done deal. You live it every day. Your dream keeps you up at night until you picture yourself signing that book contract. (Oops. Personal reflection there.) Yes – I agree that you write it down. Take one step towards your goal each day and ultimately, those steps will add up to a form of actionable belief. (Not to mention you’ll be more positive along the journey. You might actually have a little fun in the process. Shocker!)

    I love your blog and the comments on your posts. Thanks for passing on such insight and encouragement for the rest of us. I’m new to your site but am already enjoying it!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Kristy. I appreciate your comment. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Pastorg56

    As I look at the article about dreams and goals and I have a Goal of seeing the church that I pastor become a growing and healthy church now and into the future. My problem is that knowing how to go about reaching our community for Jesus when it seems that I am by myself.

  • Beck Gambill

    Some days after reading your posts, I believe I really can achieve the dreams growing and taking shape in my heart. I’m working on one dream now but it seems to grow and morph and include other aspects of my life. Actually the bigger it grows the more excited and scared I am! I appreciate the instruction and encouragement I get from people like you every day!

    • Michael Hyatt

      You are welcome. Awesome!

  • Mitch Reynolds

    My wife actually just bought me the book “The Magic of Thinking Big” and am getting down to reading it. I am excited about getting myself out of the shackles of limited thinking and beginning to think BIG. I have a dream, a rough strategy, and now I am getting down to the nuts and bolts of what does big look like, and working backwards to today. Planning all the steps along the way seems like a daunting task, but I am going to write it all down.
    Cheers, and thanks for the great article.

  • John Doherty

    Michael – 
    I really enjoyed this post. The one that resonates with me is “consider what is at stake.” Sometimes big decisions are going to be very costly. But sometimes the outcome of the decision is worth the price that you have to pay up front.

    I always enjoy reading your blog. I’ll be back around commenting!


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  • David

    Thanks Michael! It seems so easy to stray from this characteristic. As I was reading I thought “yea”, I haven’t done that in a while. Thanks for the motivation and application steps too.

  • pamhogeweide

    I get what you’re saying, yet I always feel a tension with the prosperity-driven worldview. It reminds me of The Secret. However, having said that, like most people I want my projects to succeed and I strive to be bold in embracing new ideas and breaking new thought territory.  

    And yet…

    I am a working class woman married to a blue-collar factory worker. My husband is content and is faithful and wonderful to go to work at a everyman type job. Many of my coworkers are immigrants and for them This is the Dream, working and living in America, earning  a livable wage, health insurance, education for their kids….I suppose the Think Big philosophy is determined by context.

    I guess  I will always feel a tension with Think Big messages. Is this a Jesus message or an American message? I don’t know.  But I do know this : many Americans fear that the lives we lead are meaningless and without significance because we did not Think or Do Big enough. 

    Much more to say on this, but I’ll leave it there. I don’t want to Go Big in my comment!  :)

  • Virtual Agents

    The words “Think Big” are often encoded and printed in big and bold letters. Obviously, it invites you to a lot of ideas that would come into your mind. Thinking big helps you a lot to accomplish your goals from easy to hard, so yeah, believe in it, Think Big!

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  • Mike Myatt

    Hi Michael: I agree that not thinking big can serve to limit one’s opportunity. That said, big thoughts that lack reason can also blind one to the true opportunity hidden by their misguided passion. I’d add the following three recommendations to your list: 1.) Think beyond yourself 2.) Connect others to your thinking, and; 3.) make sure you don’t confuse passion with irrational exuberance – believing something is a good idea, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is.

    • Uma Maheswaran S

      “big thoughts that lack reason can also blind one to the true opportunity hidden by their misguided passion” — There’s a great truth in this. I agree. To overcome the miguided passion, we need to find out our purpose and move towards that. Purpose will make our head and heart work in synchronization and we will be able to maintain balance.

  • ThatGuyKC

    Haha! You must’ve read my comment. :) Thank you for elaborating on how to be a big thinker. I sent it to Evernote to reference later.

  • Yvonne Green

    Absolutely.  The thought process plays more of a role than a person may think.  In fact it plays such a role that the more time a person spends in planning can cause the execution to go so smoothly that they might miss it because they spent so much time planning.

    Along with thinking is Attitude.  In fact Attitude plays a bigger role than a person’s Circumstances.  Just Look @ Joshua & Caleb 

    • Uma Maheswaran S

      Tnaks for Biblical example Yvonne.  Right attitude is the base through which we will be able to think big.

  • Eric

    What a great post. These are definitely some good steps to move closer toward one’s dream. I have the book as well and it has changed my thinking as well. I still do wonder if thinking big is a gift or a skill? Some people are really good at it!

    • Uma Maheswaran S

      Eric I feel thinking big is a skill and one can develop this trait with intentional thinking

  • David Lartey

    Great post as usual but as for the 7th I personally find this difficult to do amongst all the others. Please I need you to talk more on it because sometime the day gets so busy and rough.

  • Mark

    Michael, this was my favorite article so far…nicely written! If you want to read a book that will be a great follow up to your article, read The Genius in All of Us by David Shenk. Once the news gets out about his research and the research of many recognized scientists, the way education is approached may change forever…it would appear that the IQ test was based on fraudulent input as well as the SAT exams. This will be an eye opener for educators and parents.  Michael, hopefully next year we will be able to have you speak at the Lamplighter Guild –
    Thanks again for your work,
    Mark Hamby

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Mark. I would like that.

  • TNeal

    I’m catching up on your posts, Mike, and doing them in the order written. I asked about what big dreams looked like and you gave an example in this post. You added specific, concrete steps toward making the big dream come true.

    As for my big dream, it’s to have lunch with Dean Koontz. I wrote that down after Debbie Macomber spoke at the Denver ACFW. She talked then about the same practice you mention in this post.

    Of course, I have a bigger dream that closely matches what you dreamed years ago–the desire to write a compelling story that captures the interest of others. I’m getting closer to that goal every day.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I hope you get to meet Dean Koontz. His book on how to write best-selling fiction is my favorite book on writing. (Unfortunately, it is out of print.)

  • Jeff Randleman

    Love these thoughts!  My problem has been in defining my dreams.  I know vague generalities of what I’d like to see happen, but not the specifics.  I’ve been jotting down notes for a few weeks now as I gather more ideas.  Hopefully that will intensify my vision and clarity a bit.  Thanks for the encouraging post!

  • Robert Ewoldt

    Michael, I think this is what has held me back many times in my life… when I didn’t do one (or more) of these steps.  Something that was especially helpful for me to get the big picture of my life in focus was your Life Plan book.  It helped me to set some of the overarching goals in my life, as well as some of the smaller, shorter-term goals that I’ve now set for myself.

  • Tamara Vann

    Great advice! This translates not only for the individual but also for companies. Thinking outside of the box can and often will put a company on the path to success. This video provides some insights on creating a culture that can assist in this endeavor:

    • Uma Maheswaran S

      Thanks for the video Tamara

  • Jeremy Burroughs

    I totally resonate with your suggestions to write down your dream, and review your goals daily. I have found that writing it down, and review has been two of the most important things I have done to maintain a big vision. This post is a good reminder. Thank you!

  • Dingheng0932

    Thank you to share! Carefully read it again, well worth reading!

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  • Mkwashin

    I continually appreciate your blog, Michael Hyatt.  Thank you for the immeasurable resource it is.

  • Toby Com

    I would just like to say THANK YOU !    :)

  • Jessica K. Sullivan

    “The important thing is to do the next right thing. What can you do today to move you toward your dream?” I love that!
    Today in my blog,, I answered questions #4-6 from your post Mr. Hyatt.  I am really glad I decided to do what you outlined in your post. TY for guiding me!

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  • karimi

    These saying have encouraged me very much especially now am vying for a seat.

  • Jessica K. Sullivan
    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for the shout-out!

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  • Victor Ehiemere

    WOW!!! Thank you for this! This is literally a steroid shot to my life! 
    Practicality is energy! Thank you again!!!

    I vow to never listen to the voice of ‘be more realistic’. My dream is my new reality, nothing less would do!

    Thank you.

  • Frank

    Best post you’ve ever written. 100% spot on. Big Dream… To share what God has done in my life and what he wants to do in others lives, more boldly with a business community while using my love of fishing and boating as the vehicle. It is The Jonah Project: Three Days To Restore Your Future. Sometimes I wonder if I have a fear of success which produces my failure to launch.

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  • Raslack721

    what, on the surface, I want is to learn spanish and build a 3 wheel bike. what I need is to find insentive to want and feel that I can do these. I’m told if I clean my living space, it will help clear my thinking space. I procrastinate, with playing games and thinking about these goals.

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  • Jesut

    My big dream of reaching countless hopeless single parents through my book at times seems impossible.  Here I am still searching, trying to find the right connection.  I am encouraged by your article to continue to pursue this big dream with the hope that, as it happened for you, one day I will find that the dream is a reality.

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  • Agaba Arthur

    Thanks for this message. Here in Uganda the mystery of magic when plans or goals are writen down works too. Whatever goal i include in my annual list of targets comes to pass, even when it seemed like a joke or going overboard. I think writing down dimystifies things and brings them within your reach.

  • Tarun Sharma

    man you are a very good thinker i want you to be my friend so that i can discuss some peronal things with you if you have free tihe for a 13 year old boy from india please if you can talk with me my gmail id is

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  • Dale Melchin

    I had to come back to this post because a friend of my decided to shoot me down when I told them I was going after a high level position that opened up that I was going to gun for. If I get it I’ll be like a young Michael Hyatt in his first executive role. :-D

    • Michael Hyatt

      Go for it!