Think Big, Dream Bigger: Lessons from the Koi fish

maximize_potentialsKoi is the Japanese word for carp, a brightly colored type of flesh water fish. The fish come in a variety of colors and have symbolic meaning in China and Japan.

One fascinating thing about the koi fish is that if you keep it in a small fish bowl, it will grow to be only about two or three inches long. But if you place it in a tank or a small pond, it will reach six to 10 inches. But if you put it in a large pond and it may grow as long as a foot and a half. However, if you put it in a lake where it can really stretch out, it has the potential to reach a size of up to three feet. Amazing, isn’t it? The bigger its space, the more it will grow in size.

Similarly, people are like the koi fish. Each individual has the potential to grow their vision big, beyond the dimensions of ones boundaries. I was sharing this story with First Nations leaders recently, I told them for us as we envision the future of our children we call to happen what we  see in the future.  I believe that the future of strong First Nation communities in Canada lie with the generation of today.  In our discussions we envisioned the land based healing that First Nations can lead, the leaders talked of land based wholistic education as a pathway to wholeness and self determination. Seeeing this happen keep me excited, it keeps me eager to see the dream we are working on together come true… just like Koi, the bigger the vision and dream the bigger the outcome.

Imagine that you have no limitations on what you can be, have, or do in life. Just for the moment, imagine that you have all the time, all the money, all the education, all the experience, all the friends, all the contacts, all the resources, and everything else you need to achieve anything you want in life. If your potential were completely unlimited, what kind of a life would you want to create for yourself and your family?

Dream: A Tale of Wonder, Wisdom, and Wishesby Susan V. Bosak. This beautifully illustrated book examines the power of dreams, and how we find the courage to achieve what we wish for. It is filled with inspirational quotes and poems about pursuing your dreams, no matter how big or small. Listen to your middle school students’ conversations, and you will hear of aspirations to become the next big NFL star, famous actor or actress, or even president of the United States. However, you may also hear of goals that will touch your heart.

I want to speak to leaders or Mangera for a moment, you as a leader are the ones who can establish such boundaries in your organization, you have the opportunity to create a small or larger limits to your  team’s potential, you can choose  to grow slowly, you can choose to stay on one place, or you can create a boundless environment where better opportunities are provided for the team to uncover their hidden potentials like the koi fish.

In my experience as a leader of different projects here in Canada and Kenya, I have found out that the limiting factor that restricts people with gifted abilities from excelling is fear. Fear is one of the most powerful forces in life.  It affects the decisions you make, the actions you take, and the outcomes you achieve. Who you are and what you do has at one point or another been influenced by fear.  And while the primary role of fear is to protect you, fear very often becomes a significant obstacle that stands between you and your  your dreams. It is therefore the responsibility of each lead to lift that cap and unleash every team member’s potential just it’s for the Koi fish growth potential.

Do not stop at the peak, keep looking for new peaks to climb. Look at Google. Google became famous for its search engine — and its leaders probably could have stopped there if they simply sought fame and fortune. But the tech giant has debuted Google Earth, is testing Google Glass, and has created the first self-driving car. How’s that for dreaming bigger?

Always be constantly improving.
“Whenever I go on a ride, I’m always thinking of what’s wrong with the thing and how it can be improved.” Walt Disney

Walt believed in the future. He insisted that Steamboat Willie have the sound synced and recorded, unheard of for a cartoon at that time. Before Snow White, there was no such thing as a feature length animated film. After it became a huge success and literally changed the film industry, it led to the success of several more beloved Disney classics like Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland and Fantasia. Walt Disney could have rested on his laurels, but that wasn’t his style. Instead, he completely switched gears and set out to build an amusement park where parents and children could have fun together. Once Disneyland opened, Walt would walk around the park, personally testing all the rides, noticing if anything was out of place and asking the guests their opinions. If he noticed something was wrong, he would personally see that it was fixed. As his animators could attest, good enough was never good enough for Walt Disney.

Take action. Simply wanting something is not enough. Reaching your goals is no one else’s responsibility but your own. Goals written down on a piece of paper are a great idea, but if you don’t go out there and take action, then what’s the point! You must do everything you can to get what you want. If the overall task seems hard, break it down and do something small each day. Taking small steps consistently over time will eventually lead you to reaching your goals. As the saying goes, it may not happen overnight but it will happen, as long as you keep taking action.

Big dreams lead to big things.
In the Cartoon strip of Charlie Brown, Peanut and the Gang, Snoopy was the biggest dreamer of them all, but his wild imagination often led to even wilder, more fantastic adventures in real life. Snoopy knew that you must have a big dream if you are going to lead a big life. Keep your dreams alive all the time. Every day you should become a little better than you were the day before. If you can become one percent better daily, you can recreate your life every 100 days. Learn to get better daily; look for ways to improve, to be kinder, more intelligent, and more helpful.

Never give up.Most great accomplishments are 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Nothing happens overnight. You can accomplish anything if you put your mind to it. All achievements, no matter how big or small, need just a little stick-to-ness, determination and a lot of hard work. 

Handy Hints

People that get into the habit of dreaming big will accomplish those goals because they have the right mindset. You need to look at life with the Koi fish perspective that you can achieve anything that’s possible. If you can accomplish big dreams, why wouldn’t you go after them? Why would you want to settle for small dreams?

What if money, time, looks, and gender were no object? What would your biggest dream be? Often we short-change ourselves. We listen to others’ put-downs, and internalize them. It’s hard to remember our dreams. Harder still, to imagine that we could achieve a dream. Take Walt Disney’s words to heart. Start dreaming. Then believe that you can achieve your dream.





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