We hear advice all the time like, “go big or go home!” or “reach for the stars.” It’s as universal as it’s now a bit cliche! And yet, there’s still a great deal of truth to these sayings (which is, perhaps, why they’re said so often) -- and successful entrepreneurs who have put these principles to the test know that best. Just ask Matt Young, a serial entrepreneur recently named a Top 20 Entrepreneur by Forbes who runs many successful startups. Through his many business endeavors and ambitions, he’s learned firsthand how upping the level at which you play in this life -- going big --is really the best way to make a name for yourself, make an impact, and make some money. 


But, how do you get started? Truthfully, many of us think small because we want to think ‘realistically.’ We focus on what we CAN do rather than what we COULD do. And, that ‘can do’ is usually based on what we have seen others do. We discourage ourselves frequently from getting uncomfortable because we’re scared of failure. Young told me during our conversation just how wrong that is.


The Problem with Thinking Small


“I have a quote I like to tell mentees and friends, that says, ‘It’s better to set big goals and fail, than to set small goals and succeed,” Young told me. For him, he learned this in his first sales rep job. He noticed the other salespeople were always setting small goals, but reaching them and feeling satisfied from doing so. And yet, they weren’t bringing in nearly the amount in commissions that Young knew was possible. “I set bigger and bigger goals for myself each month and each quarter, and intentionally tried to set goals that scared me,” Young said. “My ultimate goal became $100,000 every month -- and while I never hit that goal, I did become the #1 sales rep in the company.”


Young says that he reflects not on the fact that he missed his personal goal, but that because he set his sights higher, he was consistently the top performer and highest earner of all the salespeople. “I learned that if you set the biggest goal of everyone else, you’ll always push yourself a little further while others start to take their foot off the gas when they get close to their goals. One of the best ways to sabotage yourself is to let yourself stop or slow down before you’ve accomplished an astronomical goal.” 


Young inspired me to think about my own goals: where am I thinking too small? You can have the same consideration. It’s not always about thinking small in business - with strategy or ideas. Sometimes, thinking small means we don’t allow ourselves to dream bigger for what could be, and as a result, we don’t work as hard as we could or should. 


Why You Should Never Be In Your Comfort Zone


Young says that virtually, much of the world lives in their comfort zone. “We think that if we are working towards some type of goal and doing work that we’re in alignment with, that it’s okay if we feel comfortable,” he said. “But, I’ve found that I’m not going to reach new heights or smash new records if I’m comfortable. I have to get uncomfortable, and do so quickly.” 

‘Uncomfortable’ to Young doesn’t mean doing anything against alignment with his goals, ethics, or morals -- but rather, taking risks that make his heart pound a little. “I want to be able to think to myself, ‘Ok, this is a jump, but I have to be standing at the edge of this ledge to know I’m moving in the right direction. I have to stand outside my comfort zone with this sales call, cold email, new launch… you name it.” 


Young said that you can be conscious about living outside your comfort zone on a daily basis, simply by choosing to do something everyday that scares you. “That doesn’t mean you have to do ten things a day that scares you - sometimes you just need to take one big risk that reminds you that you weren’t put on this Earth to play small,” Young said. “And, one risk or jump a day adds up to a lot of jumps outside of your comfort zone over time. I guarantee you that these jumps will pay off in ways you didn’t even know possible.” 


Largely, what I learned from Young was how much we sell ourselves short so we can feel comfortable -- and how we tell ourselves we’re doing a great job because we’re doing what others are doing. We have to go a little bit further and a little bit harder -- or, in some cases, a lot a bit harder! Start taking calculating risks and thinking in bigger ways than you ever have: about your impact, income goals, exposure, and business. Then, take massive action to see it through.

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