Overcoming Horizon Deficiency

Raise Your Gaze & Raise Your Game / CACtackk.04

One of the things I enjoy most about my weekly early morning commutes between Columbus and Cleveland is the sunrise across the wide open Ohio landscape. In certain spots, as the nearly empty highway gives way to the rising sun, my mind seems to open up as broadly as the horizon in front of me.

Today, driving north at 6am, the music playing just a bit too loudly, and my foot heavy on the accelerator, I was reminded of an exchange I had years ago with one of my earliest mentors, Barry Mastrine.  He was battling what would ultimately prove to be terminal cancer at the time; so our talk that day has always stuck with me.

"Christopher, " he said, "Too many of us live in cities, and work at jobs, and live our lives spending all our time looking at what's right in front of us. Or worse yet, we look down at our own shoe tops. Our problem is, we suffer from horizon deficiency." Barry went on to share his belief that what makes explorers explorers, and inventors inventors, and pioneers pioneers is that they raise their sights and look out at the horizon (literally or figuratively) and imagine what's out there for them.

Ever since that conversation, the concept of horizon deficiency has stuck with me. And over the last decade of building companies and helping others do the same, I've come to believe overcoming horizon deficiency is one of the key personal challenges facing entrepreneurs as they seek to unleash the full potential of their ideas.

Part of the problem is we all tend to mentally box ourselves in with a litany of SHOULDs, WOULDs, CAN'Ts, NEVER WILLs, or other self-limiting governors of what's possible. For the most part, this limiting language (and corresponding behavior) springs from the natural doubt and fear we all carry with us as human beings. And the result is we automatically box in our naturally expansive vision.

That's when this...

...becomes this...

...or worse yet, this...

Barry's point was simple. The horizon is always available to us. We are the one's who too frequently fail to take the time to look up, look out and imagine just what we might be capable of doing, saying, becoming if only we dared. We'd rather stare at the headrest in front of us than the miraculous horizon just out the window. Crazy.

So this week, try an experiment. When you find yourself stuck — at work, or in a relationship, or in the act of creating something new — just stop for a moment and literally look up from the computer, or the desk or the person's face across from you. And then imagine the horizon stretching out beyond you, big and bright and full of possibilities. Imagine the biggest dream you can fathom, and then cast it out into the distance. Imagine being the best version of yourself - your heroic self - and then embody it. Imagine letting go of the doubt and embracing the possibility instead.

Because if you raise your gaze, and dare to be brave, the rewards can be enormous.