The term Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) was introduced by James Collins and Jerry Porras in 1996. It’s a powerful concept.
It’s one thing to have a goal that’s practical. Let’s say that I want to save enough money to retire on – that’s very sensible and, hopefully, achievable.
But a Big Hairy Audacious Goal might be to have a net worth of $100 million by age 40. A BHAG is scary, because I have no idea how to achieve it. But it gives me a unique kind of energy: “If I could actually do that, I’d have the ability to do REALLY COOL things with the rest of my life, and I’d sure learn a lot of things along the way!” It’s exciting.
Maybe a pure money-related goal doesn’t do it for you. Perhaps it’s something far more spiritual: Your mission during this lifetime is to bring a unique message of enlightenment to others. A reasonable goal might be to touch 1,000 people during your lifetime.
So what would happen if your goal is to touch a million people? It’s scary, it’s audacious, and it changes the way you think. All of a sudden you realize that it’s impossible to do it just by yourself, so you have to focus on leading a bunch of like-minded people who will bring your message to the world.
The goal is motivating, and can change your life.
Here’s the exercise I challenge you with: Take something that you’d like to achieve in the next 5 or 10 years, or even during your career or lifetime. Now increase it tenfold – it’s getting scary. Increase it another tenfold.
Notice the tension that this introduces. After you get past the fact that it feels totally impossible, then you can ask:
- What if it IS possible?
- What would happen if I achieved anything near this goal?
- Whose lives would that change?
- How would I feel after having achieved it?
- What would have to change immediately for me to be on that kind of trajectory?
These are tough questions, but they can open your eyes to different ways of thinking. That’s the point.
How would the right BHAG change your life?
by Carl Dierschow