Why Having a Personal BHAG Matters
Shortly after my son, Jack, was diagnosed with autism at age two, I set the big, hairy, audacious goal (BHAG Examples) that he will graduate college. Mind you, at two; Jack spent most of his days in his wordless world. I didn't know how he could even attend ½ day preschool program, let alone complete college. Fast forwarding to his 4th-grade year (as this is a blog, not a novel), I felt panic when I realized that by being in a self-contained classroom in South Carolina public schools, Jack would receive a certificate of completion rather than a diploma. My personal BHAG was at risk.
Recently, I was honored to be the keynote speaker for the Inclusion Across the Lifespan conference at Winthrop University. I talked about how in the middle of 4th grade, Jack was moved to a private school to experience an actual inclusion setting. He learns alongside his peers, and his bar is set at the same height as the others. I used my BHAG to implore the school's administration and to partner with them to admit their first student with autism. Jack is in 5th grade now and earned all A's on his last report card. More important than grades, our Jack is back in our world.
I'll never forget this fall while helping him with homework; he turned to me, looked me in the eyes, and said, "Mommy, I’m so smart!" It was as if it were the first time he realized this fact. His new teachers have found unique ways to help pull out the vast knowledge locked inside Jack's brain through typing and picture drawing while dousing him full of encouragement and praise.
You see, the power of BHAGs lies not just in crossing the finish line but in inspiring those in the race. I was the first to start jogging, tagging his family, teachers, administrators, therapists, medical doctors, homeopathic doctors, and anyone else I could find. Jack is also running the race as we've come around the halfway mark to the BHAG.
How do you know you've found your personal BHAG?
I knew I'd found mind when:
- It made those who heard my goal for the first time either give me a look of pity or utter surprise. If it didn't, it wouldn't be BIG enough.
- It couldn't be done in a vacuum but required a LOT of faith, help, teamwork, guidance, research, caffeine, and patience. If it didn't, it wouldn't be HAIRY enough.
- I needed to figure out HOW to achieve the goal. If I did, it wouldn't be AUDACIOUS enough.
- It would take me about +/- 19 years to reach my goal. It took at least ten years to make it a visionary BHAG. If you have a BHAG that you can accomplish in 5 years, go for it – those goals are also important! But to be a visionary BHAG, you must go big or go home!
- It takes you out of your comfort zone; if it is 100% in your comfort zone, it isn't a true BHAG!
- It must be a focal point of the effort to help you make decisions and chip away at the goal.
My personal BHAG gave me my life's purpose, a vision of the future, inspiration to move one heavy foot in front of the other, and advocate for my son. It will undoubtedly be a transformational change in Jack and one that is more and more doable and exciting with each year that passes.
Why does having a BHAG matter? Imagine what an inspiration a truly BIG, HAIRY, AUDACIOUS GOAL could mean during your company's race and when you cross that finish line! Our BHAGs inspire us to think creatively, implore others to join us, and grab on to what others deem impossible. On your marks, get set...
Looking for some more information on BHAG to help get you started? Check out our additional resources:
Does Your Company's BHAG Connect to Your Hedgehog?
What's Driving Your Financial Engine? Profit/x Examples
How to Reach Your BHAG (Infographic)
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