Is your dream big enough?
Joanne and I visit Chicago each December for our annual pre-Christmas jaunt to relax, enjoy the lights, and celebrate Joanne’s birthday. We eat at our favorite restaurants, stroll through decorated stores, browse in art galleries, and talk with friendly people everywhere.
We always marvel at the beautiful Chicago lakefront, designed by architect Daniel H. Burnham. And I remember clearly the first time I saw his name on a plaque at the base of the Willis (Sears) Tower with this quotation:
“Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will not die.”
Now there’s a challenge – make no little plans!
The first step in activating your dreams is to make sure that the plans you are making are big enough to excite and motivate you. Risk more, stretch more, and make more mistakes. If you want to travel more, double or triple your income, write the next bestseller or launch the next Starbucks, you must set big goals — you must dream big.
Can a dream be too big?
At completion in 1973, the Willis Tower in Chicago, built as and still commonly referred to as the Sears Tower, surpassed the World Trade Center towers in New York to become the tallest building in the world, a title it held for nearly 25 years.
In 1969, Sears, Roebuck & Co. was the largest retailer in the world, with about 350,000 employees. They needed 3,000,000 square feet of office space and predicted that growth would require more.
Sears’ optimistic growth projections were not met. There was new competition from retail giants like Kmart, Kohl’s, and Walmart. Nor did the Sears Tower draw as many tenants as Sears had hoped. The tower stood half-vacant for a decade as a surplus of office space was built in Chicago in the 1980s.
By 1995, Sears had completely left their namesake tower, moving to a new office campus in Hoffman Estates, Illinois.
The company’s profits peaked at $1.5 billion in 2006, then dwindled to nearly nothing by 2010. On October 15th, 2018 Sears Holdings Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, listing $6.9 billion in assets and $11.3 billion in liabilities.
The hubris of assuming past success would continue did not make up for changing buying habits and stores falling into disrepair.
We all love big dreams. But why is it that sometimes dreams fail?
When I don’t accomplish my dreams, it’s usually because I didn’t ask for help. I tend to overestimate what I can do by myself and underestimate what I could do by simply reaching out for expertise that complements my own.
Your dream may be too big if you haven’t included anyone else in achieving it.
Now, I’m not going to have becoming an NFL player or the new governor of Florida on my goals for this year. Contrary to what we have heard, the biggest dreams do not always lead to the highest achievements. In fact, high achievers tend to dream at the middle. They focus on a target that is challenging, but one that is possible with effort.
Let your dreams grow in proportion with your increased wisdom and skill.
Yes, I’m inspired by that plaque at the base of the Sears Tower. But it’s also a grim reminder that dreams need the supernatural wisdom of experience and ongoing growth to survive over the years.
Is your dream big enough to stretch you but achievable with your wisdom and the help of others?
Find out more about having big dreams: Are Your Dreams Big Enough?