John Wood, founder of the organization to combat illiteracy among Asian children, writes this advice:
When I started Room to Read, I declared immediately that our goal was to help 10 million children to gain the lifelong gift of education. Some people told me that this was hubris—how could a guy who had established only a few libraries set such a brazen goal?
I did not allow myself to be talked out of this, as I believe that it's important to think big. There was a saying at Microsoft-"Go big or go home"-and this lies at the heart of my advice to anyone who wants to create change. The problems facing the world today are immense. This is not a time for incremental thinking. If a cause is worth devoting your time to, then you owe it to yourself-and those you will serve-to think in a big way.
The side benefit is that thinking big can be a self-fulfilling prophecy, because bold goals will attract bold people.
My favorite "poster child" for this advice is actually from the private sector-Amazon. When Jeff Bezos launched the company in 1995, the home page boldly declared Amazon to be "Earth's Biggest Bookstore" even though they had yet to sell a single title. He was referring, of course, to the breadth of selection they would be able to offer via a virtual store, so the claim was at least plausible.
Many naysayers were of course on hand to point out that Amazon's first-year revenues were less than what a single Barnes & Noble outlet in Manhattan might do during a slow week. I can imagine that his lawyers tried to talk him out of it, but Jeff was bold, and his claim to be building earth's biggest bookstore got him a lot of attention from investors, the media, and customers. They talked about the company, and the buzz led to publicity and sales. Amazon is a classic case of a self-fulfilling prophecy. It not only became earth's best-selling bookstore, but also its biggest record store.
John Wood, Leaving Microsoft to Change the World: An entrepreneur’s Odyssey to Educate the World’s Children (New York: Collins, 2006), 116, 117.
My review of Wood's book is found at Reviewing Books and Movies.
Image: “Amazon is a classic case of a self-fulfilling prophecy. It not only became earth's best-selling bookstore, but also its biggest record store.”