Great Leaders are Rarely Realistic



“The belief that becomes truth for me …, is that which allows me the best use of my strengths, the best means of putting my virtues into action.” – André Gide

Great leaders go beyond what other people think is possible or realistic.

What’s realistic for one person, is unrealistic for another.

And vice versa.

Realistic or impossible, is largely shaped by your frame of reference, your mental models, your imagination, your faith, your certainty, and your commitment to what you see in your mind.

In the book, Awaken the Giant Within:  How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny, Tony Robbins shares how great leaders go above and beyond what the world expects.  One person’s impossible or unrealistic is simply another person’s great expectations.

Great Leaders Don’t Live by Other People’s Standards

Your frame of reference determines what you think is possible, probable, or realistic.

Via Awaken the Giant Within:

“Great leaders are rarely ‘realistic.’  They are intelligent and they are accurate, but they are not realistic by other people’s standards.  What is realistic for one person, though, is totally different from what is realistic for another person based up on their reference.”

Great Leaders Have Great Expectations

Great leaders set a higher bar.  The funny thing is, once you raise the bar, people find a way to jump it.

Via Awaken the Giant Within:

“Gandhi believed he could gain autonomy for India without violently opposing Great Britain — something that had never been done before.  He wasn’t being realistic but he certainly proved to be accurate.  By the same token, it certainly wasn’t realistic for a man to believe he could give the world happiness by building a theme park in the middle of an orange grove and charging people not only for the rides, but even to get in!  At the time, there was no such park in the world.  Yet Walt Disney had a sense of certainty like few people how have ever lived, and his optimism transformed his circumstances.”

“Let’s Be Realistic” is Living in Fear

Reality can be your cage if your references and imagination never free you up to see what’s truly possible.

Via Awaken the Giant Within:

“People so often develop limiting beliefs about who they are and what they’re capable of.  Because they haven’t succeeded in the past, they believe they won’t be able to succeed in the future.  As a result, out of their fear of pain, they begin to constantly focus on being ‘realistic.’ Most people who constantly say, ‘Let’s be realistic,’ are really just living in fear, deathly afraid of being disappointed again.  Out of that fear, they develop beliefs that cause them to hesitate, to not give their all — consequently they get limited results.”

The Past Does Not Equal the Future

Just because that’s the way it’s always been done, doesn’t mean that’s the way it should be.  Or what it could be.

Via Awaken the Giant Within:

“All great leaders, all people who have achieved success in any area of life, know the power of continuously pursuing their vision, even if all the details of how to achieve it aren’t yet available.  If you develop the absolute sense of certainty that powerful beliefs provide, then you can get yourself to accomplish virtually anything, including those things that other people are certain are impossible.”

If you need more possibility in your life, then build more frames of reference, and imagine more possibilities.

Keep in mind that while what you know can help you, what you don’t know can help you, too.

Many people have broken records simply because they didn’t know what was possible or *impossible.*

Here is an idea from Joseph Conrad to help inspire you to think in new heights:

“Only in men’s imagination does every truth find an effective and undeniable existence.  Imagination, not invention is the supreme master of art, as of life.”

You Might Also Like

Inspirational Quotes

Leadership Checklist

Lessons Learned from Tony Robbins

Image by John Pannell.


  1. I like the excerpt regarding Standards: “What is realistic for one person, though, is totally different from what is realistic for another person based up on their reference.” Empathy is great, but assimilation is not necessary…

    It reminds me of this quote: “The quality of the imagination is to flow and not to freeze” – Ralph Waldo Emerson. Fight or Flight? Flow or Freeze? Trick or Treat 🙂

    • I always like to have a few folks around me that rattle the cage, shake things up, and remind the world that their a force to be reckoned with.

      It’s way to easy to fall into the trap of the status quo.

      Beautiful quote.

      Here’s to imagination flowing!

Comments are closed.