Tory Johnson: Dreaming Big

As I work to help people advance their careers, I often think back to an anecdote that a colleague shared with me when I was debating whether or not to quit my steady, well-paying job to pursue a risky entrepreneurial dream.

He told me that several years ago, golf legend Arnold Palmer was asked to give lessons to a very wealthy Saudi prince who wanted to play with America's finest. The prince dispatched a private jet to bring Palmer to his country, where he hosted him for a few days in a magnificent palace.

At the end of the visit, the prince wanted to give Palmer a gift of gratitude, so he told him to name anything at all. When Palmer declined, saying it wasn't necessary, the prince pushed and pushed. Finally Palmer suggested that perhaps a golf club would be a nice memento of their time together.

A week after he returned home to the United States, an envelope arrived from the prince. Inside was a deed to a golf club. Eighteen holes, plus a pro shop.

Whether this bit of folklore has any truth, I don't know. But I can say with some degree of certainty that everyone immediately thinks the golf club refers to a single stick with which to whack the ball. Why is it that our initial assumptions are so small and obvious rather than imaginative and grandiose?

At that very moment, the light bulb brightened in my mind and I knew that starting my own business -- even though fraught with the potential, and some would say likelihood, of failure -- was the best choice for me. The safety of my "regular" job just wasn't right for me anymore. I was ready to accept this great new challenge.

All of us must dream big for ourselves -- bigger than just the basics. We have to be willing to step out of our comfort zones and go with gusto for what we believe in. None of us can sit back and wait for things to happen, and we should not ignore our innermost goals.

Maybe you've been downsized or you're trying to re-enter the workplace after time off taken to care for your children. Perhaps you're about to graduate from college and you're eager to launch your career. Or maybe you are desperate to switch fields or change employers because you hate your boss or you're totally bored.

Unless you can honestly say that you're happy and content with your professional life, consider what steps -- even baby ones -- you can take this week toward moving in a different direction. Commit to the process of change -- whether it's researching new career options, learning a difficult skill, talking to people who do what you only dream of doing, indulging in an inspirational book, or resolving to make a difference.

The club of successful doers and achievers is a great one in which to belong.

To connect directly with Tory Johnson or for other information on career advancement, visit