little vision + small goals + small steps = BIG SUCCESS

Some successful people have big visions, big goals, and take big leaps. But many do the opposite. They don’t look ahead, set small goals, and take small steps.

Issy Sharp, founder of Four Seasons Hotels, said to me, “People ask what my big vision was for Four Seasons Hotels. But I had no vision ­– ever. I didn’t do this to build a business. I did it to build one hotel. I wasn’t even thinking of doing it again.” And with that approach of little vision, small goals, and small steps, Issy built Four Seasons into the world’s top premier hotel chain.

The problem with setting big goals and taking large leaps is they can be very intimidating, and actually discourage us from ever getting starting. The other approach of setting small goals and taking small steps makes it easier to get going and keep going.

Forrest Sawyer told me the small approach is how he went from being an unknown radio announcer to becoming a famous TV news anchor: “I started with 1-minute pieces, and then I would do 3-minute pieces, and I would keep doing them until I got them right. And then I did 10-minute and 13-minute pieces.”

When I first started running, my only goal was to run a few blocks and try to keep up with my wife. But it wasn’t long before I was lying on the ground gasping for air while she kept going. I stayed at it, gradually got better, and a couple of years later thought, “Maybe I’ll try running a 26-mile marathon.” I crossed the finish line, and after I stopped puking I said, “I’ll never do that again.” Then a year later, “Hmmm, maybe I can run a faster marathon”…

Now, at this point in my life, I’ve finished over 50 marathons on all seven continents and run more than 75,000 miles (120,000 km). That’s equal to 3 times around the world, or 25 times across the United States. It’s been a blast, and I did it all with no vision, no big goals, and no big leaps. The same approach led to success in my career.

The bottom line is we can accomplish big things with little vision, small goals, and small steps. So go ahead. Take the first step. What are you waiting for?

  • Steve

    Hi Richard:

    The big key is taking that first step.

    When I decided to become a full-time independent writer two years ago, I did just that. I resigned from my job but didn’t “burn a bridge,” exiting professionally and carrying that over into my new career.

    Any yes, thise small steps add up.



  • Pat Tymchatyn

    Great post – little steps equal success! I always struggled with finding a big vision/goal to hang my hat on . . . perhaps the little steps will help.

  • Jeffery Chen

    Great post! But I still think dreaming big can give allow folks to visualize into the future and figure out the small steps that are required to make their dreams a reality. But at the same time, I always use small steps on activities I find challenging to create positive momentum. 

    Connect with me @jefferychen 

  • It’s interesting to see how some are driven with the great vision, while some could care less about their long term goals and just keep their focus on getting good in what they’re doing, and increase the challenge gradually; and both could reach big success.