It always comes in a positive manner, like being told, "I really love what you're trying to do and I wish you the best, but I think you should start small and work your way up." Ultimately, though, they think I'm dreaming too big; they want me to dream smaller.
I'm trying to purchase a building and equipment to teach physical arts as a way to teach about health, wellness, and stimulate thought. People tell us that we should run our program in existing buildings like churches and gyms first, and then grow up from there. And on the outside, it may sound reasonable, but there are two problems with it. First of all, it produces a level of complacency. The small victory of working in one location with some success may actually make it harder to move on to the next bigger step; taking one large step right up front can force the effort to work harder.
The second point is so important that it needs it's own paragraph. No matter how small you dream, people will tell you to dream smaller. If I said that I wanted to run my own program out of a gym, these people would tell me "it's too much effort to make your own organization; just be a trainer at the gym, and you can still teach people your way. At the same time, if I told them that I wanted to operate fifty facilities across the country, they would tell me to just start with one. Again, no matter how small your dream is, people will tell you to dream smaller.
At this point, I will say remind you (and myself) that this is technically a blog about writing. And from there, I will say that there is a direct, 1:1 correlation here. As a writer, people always tell you to dream smaller. Don't get a novel published, first get printed in literary magazines. But don't start with national ones; do local ones first. And before you do that, take workshops and join the writer's society and do anything other than try to get your novel published.
Stop dreaming smaller. Write your novel. That is step one. Learn the process of getting novels published; the information is out there. However much time and energy you spend on rewriting, revising and being rejected, it is still a far better use of your time than working your way up a ladder where you can't even find the first rung.