“A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.” – Bruce Lee.
The idea of setting a goal goes back to the early 1800s. When people began to use them to improve their performance. And they worked so well that we still use an updated form of them to this very day.
Setting a goal is a good idea. It helps you to get what you want. Sets a target for you to aim at. And a SMART one is even better. Because it is Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Realistic. And timed to be met by a certain date.
Every now and then a good idea is turned into a great one. This happened to goal setting in the 1990s. When the Big Hairy Audacious Goal or BHAG for short swept us off our feet. And changed the way we set our goals.
Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG)
When we set a goal it improves our performance. It directs our attention to the task. And the amount of effort we need to use. It helps us to persist with the task. By stimulating planning. It makes things clearer. And it increases our interest in the task.
A BHAG takes us a step further. It inspires and drives us to change. It engages us. Reaches out and grab us by the gut. It is tangible. It gives us energy. And focuses our attention on what we want to achieve.
It takes us out of our comfort zone. Because what it aims for is almost unreasonable. So we must give 100 percent plus if we are to achieve it. Forget the business-as-usual approach. It just won’t do.
It shakes us out of our complacency. Questions our present level of achievement. Forces us to accept that good and adequate performance is not good enough. We must do even better.
Examples of BHAGs that work
Most if not all of the world-class business companies use them. Here is how seven of them do so: Amazon: Every book, ever printed, in any language, all available in less than 60 seconds. Disney: Be the best company in the world for all fields of family entertainment. Ford: Democratize the automobile. Google: Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. Hewlett-Packard: Be one of the best managed corporations in the world. Microsoft: A computer on every desk and in every home. Apple: To democratize technology by providing products everyone will want to use.
How good is your BHAG?
Inspired by these examples I wrote this BHAG for myself: To write a world-class Self-Help post for my blog every week. And I’m enjoying the challenge. As I reach for the stars. It inspires me.
It passes the How Good id Your BHAG Test.
1. Do you think you have a 100% chance of achieving it if you are fully committed to it? If your answer is yes then it isn’t much good. A 50% to 75% chance is ideally what you need.
If you did everything right and everything went well for you. And you believe you have just a 10% chance of getting there. You should probably go back to the drawing board.
2. Do you need to really take a big step up in your capabilities to achieve it? Your answer has to be yes for it to work. And force you to improve beyond your wildest dreams to achieve it.
3. Will you know that you have achieved it in 25 years time? Will you be able to look back and say. Yes I really achieved that. If you wouldn’t know you achieved it. It is not a real BHAG.
How to get BHAGs to work for you
It is easy to write a BHAG. The hard bit is to get it to work for you. To feel inspired by it. To put in the energy and the work you need to achieve it.
You also need to have the knowledge. The tools. The skills. And the means to achieve these stretch goals. And you need to acquire those you don’t have. Without them you will not achieve your BHAG goal.
So your first task is to identify what tools, knowledge and skills you need. Then to set goals for each of them. For it is only when you have got them in place. That you can begin to move forward towards achieving your BHAG goal. Now reach out and go for it. And I hope you enjoy your BHAG as much as I enjoy mine !