What is the Best-Kept Secret to Big Success?

If you had the ability to sit down and ask a self-made millionaire, “What is the secret to your success?”…what do you think they would answer? I bet you’d be very surprised. It more than likely would be a simple and straightforward answer. My guess is this: “Dream BIG!”

Whatever your goals in life are, the secret to success is a special kind of positive thinking. Can you really think your way to success? I believe you can!

When do we dream big?

The concept of dreaming big isn’t a new one by any means. In fact, I bet that back in the Stone Age there were people who dreamed big about things like having one of the biggest caves or having the best furs to keep warm in the cold. The point is that the “dream” itself is the very first step that you must take in life, if you ever hope to make your life the best it can be.

So what happens to us that so many wind up either failing to make our lives the best they can possibly be, or worse never even try at all to achieve the “big dream”? When we are children, our fantasies seem unlimited. We all have played those children’s games when we were a pirate with a flashy sword or the cowboy or cowgirl that saved the town from the bad guys with pure bravery and great marksmanship, haven’t we? When you are a kid, fantasy and adventure as well as “dreaming big” is almost never in short supply!

Why do we fail at fulfilling our dreams?

We fail almost 100% of the time we dream big simply because we don’t even try. We are afraid for one reason. We think that we can’t, and we don’t want to make a plan and execute it for something that doesn’t seem really possible to achieve. We think about dreams as just that, unreal thoughts that don’t really happen.

As I have aged and changed my life course more than just a few times, I learned something about dreams and the chance that you may actually achieve them in a really big way. Now, certainly, I am not a millionaire, and frankly I have never dreamed of being one as it isn’t the thing in my life that would guarantee my happiness and success. For me, I have always sought an inner peaceful feeling and dreamed about it most of my life. Whether it is wealth and money, or the inner peace of the mind, the approach of the most successful among us is the same, “Dream Big”.

What can you do to change your dreams into reality?

Imagine just for a minute a “dream” that you have and you knew for certain that if you just dream it, it will happen. Guaranteed, without any question. You would pursue that dream in a heartbeat, wouldn’t you? That’s something you wouldn’t even have to think twice about. Well, that is the biggest difference between you and I and that unique visionary who dreams big and has that dream come true.

Most of us just have the occasional daydream and then get caught up in the “real” world of our lives preventing us from ever starting our path to fulfilling a dream. There’s something I have written about before that highly successful people do all the time, and it really relates to the concept of fulfilling a dream. It’s called “visualization”. That’s the idea that you can visualize, actually picture yourself having the successful experience that you are seeing in your brain!

A real-life dreamer who visualized his success

My favorite example of someone who put the art of visualization into real life was former major league baseball player, the late Tony Gwynn of the San Diego Padres.

Tony wasn’t a “specimen” of an athlete physically. He was just 5’11” and weighed about 180 lbs. Not the biggest, fastest, strongest ball player in the major leagues for sure. But Tony was a student of the game and a dreamer. He believed in himself and he believed that if he focused on his skills and pictured himself succeeding, he would.

Growing up in the video era, he took advantage of watching himself every day at bat, monitoring his swing and his contact. He spent thousands of hours reviewing those tapes and from them, he began the thought process of visualization. He saw himself being more successful in his contact and driving the ball to all parts of the field as if by sheer will.

And guess what? Tony played for San Diego ago for 20 years, was a 15 time All-Star, and was a National League Batting Champion 8 times from 1984 to 1997. He wound up with a lifetime batting average of .338 and he never hit under .300 in any season. That average is the 18th highest in baseball history and is the highest ever recorded in a career since 1960 when Ted Williams retired with a .344 career average. Gwynn was remarkably successful and it made him a legend not only in San Diego but as a Hall of Famer in 2007.

What I do, and what you can do too

The simple way I use visualization and dream big is this: first, I think of whatever it is I want to succeed at and see myself in that scenario. Sometimes it can be so realistic in my mind’s eye, that I have to actually check to see if its reality or a dream, it’s that powerful. After seeing the success, the next steps are to work backwards, looking at each stop and phase along the way that got you to the point of fulfilling the dream and making you a success. By looking backwards, you will see and understand all the parts and phases that you yourself controlled and made into a reality by its success.

I didn’t come to the full realization of any of this until just a few years ago. It seems that most of us don’t think about the amount of control we have on our own life course and the results that it can bring. We too often think that our fates are predetermined or result from luck, be it bad or good. I don’t claim to have all the answers in life, but I do know a few things that I have come to learn over time. We are our own best friends or our own worst enemies and if we use our energies to think positively, and we make the kind of efforts we need to make to become a success, we will. Just ask someone like Tony Gwynn.

What are your dreams and what are you doing about them? Are they just dreams or can you visualize them as your reality of the future?

Image courtesy of Deejay on Flickr via CC BY-SA 2.0


  1. Beyond Tony’s baseball skills, the one thing I’ll never forget about him was her personality. He was always smiling, always positive. Visualization, remaining positive, having the right attitude can take you a long way to reach your dreams!

  2. Oh, wow Gary. What a great post. I definitely have to start honing my dream muscles again. Lately I’ve been dreaming about taking the family to Ted Turner’s ranch in New Mexico. But I can do better than that. Perhaps I can start dreaming of making my Junior IRA a reality. And I love the Wayne Gretzky quote. Very fitting, my friend.

  3. Erik @ The Mastermind Within

    In the next 10 years, I’m going to build a few companies and buy rental properties. I will have a great financial base and will be able to do what I want with my money and life.

    This is something I’m working on every day.

    Thanks for sharing Gary – really enjoyed this post.

  4. “We fail almost 100% of the time we dream big simply because we don’t even try. We are afraid for one reason. We think that we can’t, and we don’t want to make a plan and execute it for something that doesn’t seem really possible to achieve.” This statement is so profound, Gary. Many people don’t create resolutions, avoid goals, and all for what? Because of fear. Fear that they aren’t going to live up to that dream. When we start believing that we can do it, it certainly is possible to achieve everything we want.

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