BHAG: noun \bee-hag\ :A Big Hairy Audacious Goal
If you are not familiar with the term BHAG, you probably have not read Jim Collins’ stellar business book, Good to Great. (Insert personal recommendation here – if you run any sort of business, organization or even for a family, this is a really great book at laying a foundation for how to make the leap to lasting greatness.)
I actually have this book on CD and have listened to it probably 4 times over the past 10 years and it’s one of those books that I get a little bit more out of each time. First of all, it’s extensively researched and backed with a tremendous amount of data, but more important than that, the author, Jim Collins, does a fantastic job laying out very clearly what you need to do if you want to build something great.
One of those foundation blocks that Collins talks about is establishing a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG for short). In a nutshell a BHAG is a goal that is so large and overwhelming that on the surface it seems like it’s just a little bit crazy. For instance, when JFK threw down the torch in 1961 and said that we would land an American on the moon by the end of the decade, a lot of people thought he was nuts. That was a goal that was so ambitious, so out there that it took every intelligent brain at NASA working round the clock for almost a full decade to make it happen.
Of course there were a million details to work through and I’m sure there were a lot of setbacks along the way, but what got us to the moon was that there was an overriding vision for where we wanted to go. And that’s what a BHAG does – it gives your actions a direction and a purpose. This is not to be confused with your everyday goals or a short term action plan (which are both important by the way). Your BHAG needs to be so large that it will probably take a very long time to achieve.
I have a BHAG. I want Pink Bulldog Design to become my full time occupation. I want to quit working for “the man” and run my own business. I’m under no pretenses that this will happen quickly, nor do I think it’s going to be easy, but that’s what makes it Big and Hairy and Audacious. It’s my long-term goal – part of the vision that I have for my life. And going forward, all of the things I do to help grow Pink Bulldog need to contribute to achieving my Big Hairy Audacious Goal of running my own business.
So a question to ponder: What’s your BHAG?