A person I respect a great deal sent me a book last week he said had greatly impacted him. The book by Mark Batterson is entitled “The Circle Maker,” with the subtitle of “Praying circles around your biggest dreams and greatest fears.”
It’s a book I probably would never have heard of, or read, if it hadn’t been so highly recommended. Yet, when I was only 20 pages into the book, I knew it was the right book for me at the right time, and that it would profoundly impact my life.
It’s one of those books that inspire you to incorporate the principles in it into your everyday life. It’s about the power and importance of prayer, and the following three concepts are repeated many times throughout the book:
- Dream big.
- Pray hard.
- Think long.
The emphasis of the book is obviously on praying hard, and is the concept that I’m committed to incorporating into my life in a big way. Given my litany of failings, I always feel out of place talking about claiming God’s promises, pursuing God-sized dreams, or seizing God-ordained opportunities, as the author does. At the same time, I also get nervous about summarizing and secularizing concepts that are far more powerful as written. So if the next few paragraphs attempting to do that intrigue you at all, I urge you to read the book.
Like so many others, this book is a testament to goals. It makes the point that most of us don’t get what we want in life because we’ve never taken the time to figure out what it is that we want.
Take our own operations, for instance. Most everyone devotes many long hours of hard work to make their cattle operation a success, but how many of us have ever truly sat down and written out our goals for the operation; something that outlines the vision for where we want to go?
I believe most people have some broad general goals in mind for their business or ranch. But if they aren’t defined, specific and inspiring, they aren’t particularly real. I say this with confidence because I know that in our own operation, much of what we’ve done and are doing is outside that bigger context and vision.
We have to dream big. I love the quote from noted architect Daniel Burnham, who said, “Make no small plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood.” Dreaming big is a prerequisite to achieving something meaningful. It means having a vision, a plan to achieve it and the persistence to see it through.
Another point made in the book is that you have to think long. The author points out that we often overestimate what we can accomplish in a year or two, but tend to underestimate what we can accomplish in 10 years. That’s amazing and I see that concept played out daily with my own time management. I almost always can write down far more than I can accomplish in a given day or week, but at the end of the month I’m surprised by all that’s been accomplished as a result of the hundreds of little things that inevitably took longer than I thought.
If all of us as managers had a big dream, audacious goals and a long-term perspective to help us get there, the results would be amazing.
The following sentence also captured me – “At some point, most of us stop living out of imagination and start living out of memory. Instead of creating the future, we start repeating the past. Instead of living by faith, we live by logic.” In other words, we stop going after our dreams, and we stop living with the commitment and excitement that makes life meaningful.
Businesses are like men in that if the dreams are getting bigger, they are growing; when the dreams decrease, so do they. Inevitably big dreams require acts of faith as well; it means a willingness to take big risks. I need to be reminded from time to time that the greatest risk of all is failing to dream big, and to act in faith. “Success is a derivative of persistence.”
Finally the book discussed the fact that we are where we are, wherever that may be, because of a host of daily decisions and a few defining decisions. Dreaming big, thinking long term, being persistent, working hard and making those defining decisions describe where we are, and can change where we are going almost instantly. Dream big. Pray hard. Think long.