What Does It Mean To Think Big?

I recently read Zero to One by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters and Moonshot! by John Sculley. They are both inspiring books about identifying opportunities to solve world-changing problems (and building multi-billion dollar businesses in the process). Reading these books got me thinking about what it means to think big.

san fran

I grew up on a small farm outside of a small town in southern Alberta, Canada. Until I took my first plane ride when I was 19, the furthest I had been from home was a trip to Disneyland.

My parents love their quiet life, but they taught me that I can go anywhere and accomplish anything I want to. They taught me to think big.

While growing up, big was anything bigger than a town of 3500 people, and I looked forward to getting out into the big world.

I thought Brigham Young University was big with its 30,000 students in a county of 500,000 residents.

I saw that the world is big when I spent two years near Melbourne, Australia.

I didn’t think life got any bigger than California's Bay Area. While living there I was in constant awe of the many iconic company headquarters along the 101 between San Francisco and San Jose.

After living in California I moved back to that town of 3500. I had just joined a startup, and I planned to open an office in Utah after a brief orientation period. That brief stay turned into 6 years before I actually did move to Utah.

Going back to that small town helped me realize that big is not necessarily living in a big city working for a big company and traveling the big world. Big is stretching yourself beyond what you think you are capable of. Big is making the biggest impact you can on the people around you, even if that impact seems small in the grand scheme.

While living in that small town I helped 150 families through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University as the lead facilitator. While living there I helped start a venture capital fund and built several startups with offices in the US and Canada. While there I turned my health around by losing 30 pounds and running a half marathon. While these are relatively small accomplishments, to me they were big.

So how do we think big if we’re not trying to cure cancer or build a billion-dollar business or become President of the United States?

What's big to you?

What’s big to you might be small for someone else, and vice versa, but that’s okay. You are you, not someone else.

What are your unique talents?

Chances are you have talents and skills that set you apart from most other people. Sometimes these are hard to identify and develop, but we all have them.

What mark do you want to make on the world? 

Think about what you are passionate about. Is it building a business? Is it helping underprivileged kids? Whatever it is, you can find a way to apply your unique talent to make a mark.

What's holding you back from taking the first step?

We often cite fear of failure as what holds us back, but what about fear of success? Do you like your comfortable life, and are you afraid success will take you out of that comfort zone? I like Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous quote: "Do one thing every day that scares you."

I believe thinking big means thinking BIGGER than we are now. It means forcing ourselves outside of our comfort zone. It means doing something that scares us. It means making our own small mark on the world.

Question: What does thinking big mean to you?