One of the most successful books in the 20th century is “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill. It mainly talks about the relationship between how people think and their success. It is a product of interviews of more than 500 of the most successful men in the U.S. during that time, giving it credibility. Furthermore, it did not just talk about feelings and motivations; it was based on actual research.
One of the key excerpts form this book is:
“Truly, thoughts are things, and powerful things at that, when they are mixed with definiteness of purpose, persistence, and a BURNING DESIRE for their translation into riches, or other material objects.”
Inspired by this book, I’ve tried validating its results locally by talking to people who can’t be considered rich, as well as those living paycheck to paycheck. I asked them all the question: “What do you hope to achieve in life?’
Unsurprisingly, most answers from these respondents go along the lines of – “Just to have my children finish school” and /or “To provide all the basic necessities of my family”. There is nothing original with the answers, nor do they suggest anything beyond what it “common”.
This is very reflective of the respondents’ limited aspirations, which can then imply a “cap” to their expansion.
If people won’t dream big, they won’t be driven to achieve big. Consequently, they probably won’t be big.
This is the same reason why very few people dive into business, and when they do, they rarely go beyond their comfort zones.
“Thinking small” is not necessarily bad; it just makes “getting by” the goal. Realizing this, I feel that it is necessary and crucial for those who are thinking big to encourage and infect those “small thinkers”. This is especially because the larger segment of the population is the future market, the source of future resources, and the future leaders and entrepreneurs. Having them “think small” and be content with what they currently see does not paint a promising and progressive picture for the future.
Businesses can help change this mindset—what New Leaf Ventures is doing with these learning events and resources is broadening people’s minds to think Better Business. There must be more that society can do, and these efforts should ingrain this mindset to people as early as possible. Maybe it should even be part of training in schools.
The bottom line is, it’s only when people think about bigger and better things that achieving bigger and better things start to become possible. And it’s only when people work hard on these possibilities do bigger and better things happen around us.
Dr. Alvin Ang is an Economist and Responsible Personal Finance Advocate
Connect with Dr. Ang on Twitter
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