Daring in design, cautious in execution

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I’m reading Titan, Ron Chernow’s massive biography of John D. Rockefeller. Early in Rockefeller’s career, his approach to business is described as “daring in design, cautious in execution.”

That’s a good motto for undertaking any endeavor. Be bold with your vision. Go where no one has gone. Go bigger. Go better. Have the courage to be audacious with your plan.

Then pursue that vision with care and meticulous attention to detail. Be patient and plodding, even, as you painstakingly nurture and craft the small things that are necessary to make your big plan truly daring and worth talking about.

Apple works this way. Their vision is bold. They want to change the world with their products. But they are conservative with their execution, famous for patiently and secretly refining and iterating, unwilling to release anything that doesn’t meet their high standards, even if profit is assured.

The big picture is crucial, and having a daring goal can spark action and unleash possibilities previously unimagined. But it’s the execution – the follow-through and the commitment to the countless difficult decisions and unglamorous hours honing and reworking the details – that determines the destiny of the dream.

Dream your big dreams. Open to a blank page and put down those daring, scary ideas. Commit to the vision that most delights you, and then get busy doing the deep, detailed work necessary to make that dream fulfill its promise.