How to find the headspace for big-picture thinking

As well as setting the next revenue milestone, it is important to keep in mind the bigger picture and your own internal, longer-term target. Having a bigger target makes things happen, and it becomes self-fulfilling

How to find the headspace for big-picture thinking

If you’re constantly thinking big, you will think differently and make different decisions because you’re planning for future growth. You will see new opportunities and possibilities that would otherwise not be in view, from who you might hire, to new products to add, to new geographies to enter. 

Throughout my twenty-four years as CEO, every time I met a mentor or a business coach, met with one of my CEO groups, listened to an inspiring TED Talk or heard from a business that had already done the growth journey, it made me think a bit bigger. I was constantly moving the growth dial as I realised what was possible. Spending time with people who have larger businesses and who inspire you to think bigger is important. One conversation can have a huge impact. 

I learned to think bigger from people who were a long way ahead on their scaling journey, who were used to thinking about what was almost impossible, and how it could become possible. It takes time to learn to think like that, and you need to put yourself in a position where you can think strategically and see the big picture, and that’s hard when you’re growing and there’s so much to do. It’s so important to keep talking to people about the bigger picture, about the next stage, about what might be possible and what might be blocking you.

It is also important to have those growth discussions with yourself and others, and make sure you have time to be your own growth champion, because that’s a job only you can do. If you make the time, it will lead to growth. Not spending the time slows growth. It is part of your job to spend time looking for opportunities to set aside considerable time for strategic thinking.

In the early days, do whatever works for you to get your thinking time. Get away by yourself for a long walk or a swim, or chat to other CEOs in an environment that is not just about work. I used to get a lot of thinking done on long flights, in the days when phones didn’t work on aeroplanes. I could switch off from the outside world and get my notebook out. Travelling to new places and getting some time out used to give me the space I needed to think about strategy and the big picture, and to come up with new ideas or to solidify what felt like the best next stage.

Start asking yourself, ‘What’s stopping this company from becoming really big?’. As soon as you start thinking, ’I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but it would be possible to buy something else, to double up, to merge with a similar business, to buy in a new geography, to add a completely new product line’, then you are in your growth mindset and the potential for growth is infinite.

Before you can start creating a culture that scales, you will need to establish a growth mindset and remove the barriers to growth you have already created by imagining that your respectably ambitious but attainable growth target is your ultimate goal. In fact, your personal target should be much bigger, even if you do not share it with anyone. 

Once you start to think big, you will attract the people and opportunities you need to grow, and see possibilities that you had not imagined before, perhaps outside the current constraints of your market. Get help with thinking bigger from mentors, make sure you meet with more successful businesses, and allow yourself time for big-picture thinking. 

Growth can take a long time, but the process will get easier and you will learn how to speed it up.

Sam Smith
Sam Smith

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