COMMENT: The key importance of continuing to think BIG

Jim Duffy. Picture: Alasdair Watson
Jim Duffy. Picture: Alasdair Watson
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I’m a big Bruce Lee fan! For those of you of a certain vintage that will mean something.

Bruce was another one of these amazing human beings who died young. But, his zest for life and living was immense. I’m reminded of one of his quotes that inspires me: “To hell with circumstances, I create opportunities”. Bruce Lee had a fabulous mindset that he continuously developed. He wanted to shape his own destiny in a big way. “Big” being the key word here. So that is why I applaud our First Minister for thinking big and getting on a jet plane to the USA.

As I work with entrepreneurs who have raised investment and are looking to grow, I see them on many occasions lose impetus, focus and belief, and take their eye off the ball – the ball that they really wanted to own only 12 months ago when they were thinking big. Many suffer from a mindset wobble that damages their self-belief and they get swayed by others. Those “others” could be their significant other, non-executive directors or members of a team that simply do not fit. In short, they lose their thrust in thinking big. So maybe there is a lesson for them and many of us to learn from the First Minister as she gets out there and sells the sizzle.

Some are lamenting her trip as political posturing and grandstanding on the global stage, others on her focus (or lack of) on the bread and butter of government such as education and health whilst hitting the US. However, it’s easy to sit in Scotland and debate at Holyrood. It’s easy to be insular and keep focused on internal debates and in-fighting and that wonderful clan-like mentality we Scots possess. That does worry me a bit in the long term. It’s easy to stay where your modus of optimal equilibrium works best for you – your comfort zone. And of course nothing happens in comfort zones… and certainly nothing big happens in comfort zones.

To think big takes energy and commitment. It takes persuasion and communication and bucket loads of effort. But it brings results. And many entrepreneurs at the early stage should look at the FM for some inspiration I would argue – why shouldn’t Scotland, independent or not, be thinking globally and pushing our interests to the global movers and shakers.

Thinking big does not mean just thinking big. It’s easy to get on a stage and tell people to think big. But, actually sitting down and thinking about unlimited possibilities is where real magic can happen. This in turn becomes a vision and it is in the articulation of this vision that entrepreneurs can make great stuff happen. The first thing is they bring in other human beings who believe in the vision and want to help or get involved. You cannot beat that – emotional buy-in to you and your vision.

From here, cash, investment and so much more can happen… and does. But – and it’s a big but – what happens when the cameras have gone, the PR has faded and another new start-up is the flavour of the month? Well, that is where you have to make your own headlines and you can do this through brilliant execution and by maintaining that ability and capacity to think big.

I couldn’t be a politician. It looks too hard. I enjoy being an entrepreneur. But, one thing I do see in many of them, especially as they rise up, is a real tenacity, resolve and resilience. This is what gets them through the day and makes it happen for them. It’s a constant journey of thinking big and creating aspiration in our society for the art of the possible. And one cannot accomplish this simply by sitting in the debating chamber in Holyrood. Entrepreneurs think in outcomes and I expect that there will be big outcomes from the FM’s trip to the USA. She has everything to gain and nothing to lose. Well, maybe some sleep.

So, entrepreneurs – can you keep thinking big? Can you take a leaf out the FM’s book and jump on a plane to the States and sell? Are you willing to sacrifice even more so that you can achieve your vision? Let’s give Bruce Lee that last word: “Life itself is your teacher, and you are in a state of constant learning”. Well said Bruce! Let’s keep thinking BIG.