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Where’s your BHAG?

By October 9, 2014October 14th, 2014All members, Management, Navigator members, Psychology

Do you have a Big Hairy Audacious Goal?

“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.” ~ John F Kennedy. 1961

Looking back from our technology enriched world, you may not remember the impact of this bold statement. The world had barely begun to put men into orbit, something the US had yet to achieve at all. Yet Kennedy had the audacity and boldness to set a goal that would challenge every area of technology for almost a decade. Many people said it could not be done. Yet, on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the lunar surface.

Many people dismiss the idea of setting big bold audacious goals. Some, because it is difficult to predict what might be around the corner. Some, because of fear that they cannot achieve such goals. Some, because achieving goals is hard.

When I was twenty seven, I declared my goal of becoming a black belt in Karate by the time I was thirty. I am not a sporty person, but I was slightly obsessed with Bruce Lee and wanted to see if I could learn to defend myself in such a splendidly impressive fashion. There was much hilarity amongst my friends, who thought this would be an impossible goal. Undeterred, I was determined to do it.

My first few weeks went well. Whilst I was not particularly athletic, I was reasonably fit and, for several weeks, revelled in my newfound strength and coordination. Then one night – disaster! Over confidence had led me to launch straight into a routine without properly warming up, and I felt a sharp pain at the back of my leg just above my ankle. The next day, my doctor informed me that I had pulled my Achilles tendon and would not be training for at least 3 weeks. It would have been easy to give up my goal at this point. But I didn’t.

For three more years, I persevered, until I finally reached my goal on a cold February day in Bristol – almost one full year ahead of my target. I will never forget the words of my Karate examiner

“Jacqui Hogan, Shodan”


I learned a number of valuable lessons along the way:

Goals need to be big, bold and audacious

If your goal is too easy, it will not inspire you. If your friends do not say ‘you must be crazy!’, like mine did, you will not have enough reason to prove them wrong! However, you also have to really, really want to achieve the goal too.

You have to really, really want it

If you are not prepared to give it everything, then you do not have the right goal. It is vitally important to involve everyone in your organisation in defining the goal. You have to have their hearts committed as well as their heads.

Goals need to be clearly defined and measurable

Vague aspirations are not particularly motivating. They are open to interpretation in terms of substance and timing. For example, it is highly unlikely that the US would have put a man on the moon in 1969, if Kennedy had not set a time limit of a decade.

Achieving goals is hard, but worth it

If the goal were easy, would it really be worth it? Goals will give you a sense of purpose and a focus. You will have setbacks. However, do not be deterred. Overcoming setbacks will make your achievement even more satisfying.

Of course, things will change as you progress. However, these changes, good and bad, can give you unexpected opportunities either to learn or to use. My quest for a black belt in Karate lead me to learn to speak a little Japanese, and learn about Japanese culture. My nephew decided last year to learn Karate too, because ‘Auntie Jacqui did it”. He will be taking his brown belt exam later this year. I will be so proud.

Achieving goals gives other benefits

The technology spin offs alone from the race to the moon have been considerable. For example, satellite TV, cordless power tools, flight simulators and remote medical sensors. They were not part of the intended goal. However, people needed to be innovative and inventive to make it happen.

Email me more information about setting my own audacious goals or call Jacqui Hogan on 01494 680997.

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