Management Tactic #30: Dream Big

A few weeks ago, my friend Bryce and I were talking about the point of NASA, or the lack thereof. I posed the question: Why do so many of our tax dollars go to a program that looks to outer space when we have plenty of issues down here on earth?

Bryce had a really interesting answer (beyond the other benefits of NASA research, like anti-gravity pens, velcro, and dry ice cream). He had recently listened to a renowned physicist (Neil Tyson DeGrasse) on NPR who said that not only should we be continuing space research, but we should be actively striving to get a man on Mars.

His reason? That having such a lofty goal as putting a man on the moon could inspire an entire generation of American children to take science and technology to a whole new level.

The main example he used was the previous space race, the goal of putting a man on the moon. Although it may seem like a fairly pointless goal, the very fact that there was such a lofty goal helped to inspire millions of kids to think big. It made Americans dream big. And there was urgency behind it–we wanted to get our man on the moon before the Russians did.

Compare those days to 2010. What goals do we have like that? Cure cancer? Sure, that’s a great goal. But it’s not as sexy as putting a man on Mars. If you want to inspire little kids, you need to have an exciting goal. And you never know–maybe the ensuing out-of-the-box thinking will result in a cure for cancer. You never know.

I think these types of lofty goals can help any business succeed. At my organization, we have a few “visioning” meetings every year, during which we sit around and talk about where we’d like to see our organization in 5, 10, even 50 years. Looking that far into the future–a future that even the most loyal employee won’t be around to see–helps us think bigger than ourselves. There’s always an excited buzz in the air after we walk away from these meetings.

Last, I think dreaming big can help us in our personal lives. Why do you think people run marathons? It’s an arbitrary distance to run, an activity that can potentially do long-term damage to your joints…but it inspires people to reach deep inside themselves and achieve something spectacular. Or your dream can be even less logical. The point is that it gives you something to strive for.

What’s your big dream?

16 thoughts on “Management Tactic #30: Dream Big”

  1. I dream about seeing the world. It’s not at all a specific dream, but when I die I’d like to feel satisfied that I experienced enough wonderful places to feel like I understand what the world has to offer.

  2. Just another thing to add, to your point about kids needing to dream big, it also helps if the parents participate in their dreams. A kid can dream big, but without their parents helping to stoke that fire with positive support, that dream will become embers.

    As a kid I told everyone I would become a cartoonist, artist and a comedic actress. My parents supported me with all of these dreams. These dreams (as you say what happens when someone dreams big) have lead to other things, like writing. In order to do any of those three things, the writing was the basis for which it was all built upon. That being said, even though these things have been accomplished somewhat, it makes you want to dream bigger.

    For instance, yeah its nice to draw and write things for my blog, but what about becoming published and syndicated? 🙂

    Maybe the next management meeting you have could be called, “Dream EVEN bigger”? 🙂

    Besides that…just a crazy question, when has Space Travel been sexy? Thats gotta be worse than being stuck on an airplane for 8 hours! Not to mention you’re stuck in those suits for quite a long time…and you probably can’t use lysol.

    • That’s a great point, Georgia. I think it helps a ton to have people around you who believe in you.

      I think it’s more the idea of space travel that’s sexy, not the actual experience. 🙂

    • Georgia, Are you saying you don’t want to go into space because you won’t be able to use lysol? Is the use of lysol what’s keeping you on earth?

      And I’m pretty sure that the space shuttle would be quite a bit more fun than flying on a plane. Haven’t you seen Apollo 13 when they go floating around? It look awesome! I’ve never been able to squirt my orange juice out into the air and catch an OJ bubble in mouth in an 8 hour plane right.

      • I often squirt my orange juice into the air on long flights, just in case we’ve reached the altitude where it would float. It hasn’t happened yet, but you know the old saying: “You’ll never know if you don’t try to spray your orange juice onto the person sitting in front of you.”

  3. In reference to NASA, and what the space race did for getting people to dream, Check out XPrize. The idea is to incent inspiration and innovation by rewarding the first to achieve an accomplishment. For example, the Google Lunar XPrize is a $30M prize for the first private company to launch a robot that gets to the moon, travels 500 meters, and transmits Data and Video back to earth.

    The difference between this and NASA’s Lunar Landing is the amount of chatter about it. Because the Government spent tax money on the Moonwalk, AND because there were definate sides to the challenge (US vs USSR), people united around the Moonwalk. When someone claims the Google Lunar XPrize, it may make a 60 second story on the CBS Tuesday Evening news, and that’ll be it. Ooh, and eventually we’ll get Google Moon, which will give turn-by-turn directions from Allen Crater to the Sea of Tranquility.

  4. I feel cheated,you already used my major big dream as an example(marathon) so shame on you 😛 It’s a bit different for me though, the thought of damaging my body and pulling a random muscle is sexy, but the big dream is to finish in a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon. Yes marathons themselves are dream worthy, but achieving what most people consider a fast time is definitely one of my big dreams.

  5. Some of my big dreams growing up (middle school-undergrad years) were and are:

    1. Adopt one or more children
    2. Create my own non-profit
    3. Establish scholarships under my mother’s name
    4. Start a wildlife preserve in US- allowing more open land to remain undeveloped for native animals in their region.
    5. Return to the orphanages in Romania and work for longer than 2wks.

    Now, as a thirty-something, single woman, my dream is to win the lottery to fund all of the above.


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