You Can’t be Big and Small at the Same Time

Jan 16, 2015

One of my business mantras is that you can’t be big and small at the same time. I was sharing this notion with a colleague a few days ago. In the course of our conversation I recalled my earlier days of riding competitively in the world of hunter-jumper.

I started out terrified of horses. My first ride was a small jet black mare. When I was good enough for early competition, my husband insisted that I have the right gear: new saddle, boots, helmet, breeches—whatever was required to make me feel like I was as good a rider as the other competitors.

I initially found it challenging to spend money on the get-up and gear when I wasn’t yet an accomplished rider.

His wise response?

“If you don’t think of yourself as BIG or good enough to compete with the other riders, you’ll never win.”

Business is kinda like this as well. Whether you’re big or small has nothing to do with the size of your organization or your bottom-line. It has to do with your attitude.

A BIG attitude means you have the heart and mind to be an equal competitor in your field; it’s different for each of us. You can actually be a small company or an independent contractor that thinks and acts in big ways.

The differentiator between BIG and small, then, rests in the power of thought: I believe in who I am and what I have to offer.

It’s not just enough to think big, however. We call that arrogance. You have to act on those thoughts or it’s all imagination. This BIG attitude has several practical components to it. When you’re coming from BIG, people notice several key things.

People who think BIG, play BIG.


• Are driven by purpose and passion for the work they do.
• Go the extra mile to create the result they’re after (as long as it’s legal).
• Have confidence, a high level of expertise, and are trustworthy.
• Pay close attention to details.
• Work from a perspective of excellence.
• Network with other people who also think and play BIG.
• Are committed to serving their clients or customers.

It’s a short list with a lot of power if you dig in and make the choices required. BIG isn’t always easy because life gets in the way. We can get confused by fear and anxiety. These negative emotions produce small. Small looks like playing it safe, taking the easy way out, or avoiding the hard work necessary to get to the end result.

Small might initially feel easier, but in the end, the rewards are equally small and far less satisfying.

One more thing, just so we’re clear. The goal of BIG is not perfection. Perfection doesn’t exist. The goal is excellence in every circumstance.

Excellence means that you do your very best given the situation you’re in. Sometimes we simply run out of time, money, or the resources we need to get the outcome we initially desired. We may be forced to let some things go.

Just remember this. Everything is pretty much negotiable. It’s the heart and mind behind your actions that matter. So, ask yourself what does BIG look like in your world?

Where can you kick-it up a notch?

Do your best to create the biggest possible result, be prepared to renegotiate when needed, and let the small stuff go.

The promise of BIG is that you achieve more meaningful goals with less stress. You’ll also enjoy the freedom of knowing that you’ve done your best. Whatever the outcome, you’ll be guilt free and less inclined to beat yourself up.

I don’t know about you, but I like the idea of living from a place of accomplishment without all that other junk wading through my mind.

We spend a lot of time each day working. BIG allows you to appreciate the trip along the way.