Feeling a bit unfocused lately? Lost your juice, your drive, for your work – or in your personal life? If you haven’t already engineered the life of your dreams, no matter your age, no matter your block on the organizational chart – you may need a BHAG. Jerry Porras and Jim Collins coined the term “Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals in their book Built To Last, which spoke to businesses with visionary aspirations.

A Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal is a big stretch, perhaps bigger than any you have attempted before.  There may be no precedent for it in your business or in your life. There may be no events in the immediate past that have led you to assume this thing, whatever it is, will be a natural progression for you. When you go for a BHAG you GO for it, all in and all hands on deck. You focus, You rally your resources, your stakeholders, your support system – everything.

Why Pursue a BHAG?

You need to know why, and you need to know why you want this five layers deep.  What is the why behind the why for you? What are the rational rewards  – more money and time, perhaps? Growth in sales or in market share? Suppose you do increase your top line sales and your bottom line – what will that do for you? Will you use it to invest in a new facility, or in marketing? Will you retire debt, or build your production capacity by hiring new staff?

After you deal with the rational why, dig into the question, “What are the emotional benefits?” If you achieve this BHAG, will you feel less stress, become more valuable to yourself? Will you feel good about contributing to the community and to the prosperity of your employees? Will you feel successful?

What if you don’t hit your BHAG? Will it be a complete flop, or will a partial accomplishment take you to a better spot than you are in today? You know the phrase, reach for the stars and you might touch the moon.

The very process of choosing and really owning a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal galvanizes you, and galvanizes your team.  It becomes the primary criterion for decision making, for the allocation of time and money resources.  You’re all headed in the same direction, and seeing that BHAG with an intensity that causes daily annoyances and conflicts to fade along the sidelines as unimportant.

Why People Don’t Try

Fear, scarcity mentality, and a lack of belief in the possibility sometimes cause people to shy away from trying something big, to shoot for an accomplishment that could be significant. If you truly want to make this BHAG a reality you:

  1. List the obstacles – all of them, including potential obstacles that could trip you up later. The number of obstacles doesn’t matter. What matters is that you don’t stop once you have listed them.
  2. Brainstorm solutions – If you really want this BHAG to happen you will have a Plan A, Plan B, and maybe more plans than that. Find your critical path, your best way forward, by choosing to implement solutions that answer more than one obstacle.
  3. Develop specific action steps with target dates – Lay it out on paper  – How are you going to move your hands and feet to get it done, and by when?

When you see the path in front of you, your confidence in your ability to achieve the BHAG grows.  When your confidence grows, you become more action oriented, and you pick up speed.  When you pick up speed you bring the goal closer.  And the closer the BHAG comes to reality, the more energized you become to finish the job and get it done.

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?