James Collins and Jerry Porras wrote about Big Hairy Audacious Goals in their book Built To Last, a predecessor to some of Collins’ books I’ve reviewed so far. That term was used to describe a business creating an elephant-sized goal to aspire to and then went into breaking it down into ‘one bite at a time’.
I’m not sure if the authors realized how important BHAGs were to every aspect of life. I’ve heard it referenced in at least a dozen other books on topics from leadership to business to marketing to self-development.
What is it about BHAGs that scares the crap out of us? Is it the finality of putting something to paper? Is it the fact it stretches us further than we think possible or feel comfortable with? Is it the fear of failure? Do we just not want to do the level of work required to make and reach a BHAG?
If we’re honest with ourselves, it’s probably a little of all of those.
Seth Godin has spoken often about the ‘lizard brain’ the part of us that fights our desires for improvement with its fear for survival. In possibly one of the most memorable moments in Linchpin, he explains that if you’re afraid of doing something, you should speak out loud “I am afraid of this because of my lizard brain.” and then, armed with that knowledge, go for it.
Don’t give up before you try. I challenge everyone reading this to try and create a big goal for the year – that’s 10 months! Where would you like to be in 10 months that is difficult to even imagine? Think positively, write down the steps you would have to reach. Even if you DO fail, you’re likely to be better off in 10 months than you would have been without that scary goal to guide you.