Identify Your BHAG

I have a brain-crush on Jim Collins.

It’s true. I’ve read and listened to his books at least 10 times and regularly slip in his ideals (properly cited, of course) to my students, in my speeches, and at my Monday girlfriend lunches. I’ve seen him speak and he autographed my copy of “Great by Choice,” where I got to shake his hand. **Sigh**

One of my favorite models that he introduces in “Good to Great” is the Hedgehog Concept. It gets his name from the animal who does one thing and does it really well: as Jim describes it (hey, I’ve spent a lot of time with him so I figure we’re on a first name basis by now), the hedgehog rolls into a prickly ball to protect itself from the sly fox. He translates this to business success which I translate to personal development. If you find yourself bored, stuck, or just plain depressed, do some soul searching around these three principles:

1. Do something you’re passionate about.
Something that you can’t help but think about. Something that you read about even when you’re on vacation. Something you do because you love it, even if you didn’t get paid. What are the things in your life that make you smile most? What injustice do you get most fired up about? You could be passionate about helping the elderly, or educating children, or assisting single moms.

2. Do something to drive your economic engine.
In other words, how can you take your passion and make money at it? I firmly believe that money follows passion. Your passion-money connection might not be immediately visible, or highly logical, or even in existence yet (think Facebook). A few years ago there was a “Silly Bandz” craze whereby rubber bands were molded into various trendy shapes and colors. Kids would collect them and wear them as bracelets and link them together and trade them. My daughter spent all of her allowance buying them, while I sat back and asked myself, “Now why didn’t I think of that?” (I asked myself the same thing about Webkinz.)

3. Do something that you can be the best in the world at.
This one can seem a little intimidating at first, until you remember that Jim is talking about companies, and I’m talking about personal development. So bring it down a notch. What can you do that you can be the best in your region? In the town? In your neighborhood? Start small and work your way up. You can always move up to being the best in the world. The key here is just to be the best. Often, this is something that comes very naturally for you. If you’re completely stuck, ask your closest friends and family members what you do that is unique, that sets you apart from others. If you have a life or workplace coach, ask him or her what they see in you that’s special.

The sweet spot where these three things connect is your BHAG – your Big Hairy Audacious Goal (another Jim-ism). What’s that one big dream that is so crazy you’re almost scared to say it out loud, let alone think it? Yet when you do allow your mind to wander there, you get a big smile on your face. This is when you’ve really made it! (My BHAG is to someday collaborate with Jim on a project. Yikes- I said it out loud! But I’m smiling!)

Don’t be afraid of your BHAG. He’s a friendly creature. Cut out a picture of him and put him on a vision board. Write him down and put him on your mirror. See him everyday and make him a part of your life. But acknowledge that it will take time. Acknowledge that it will take a lot of hard work. And acknowledge that it will never happen if you don’t take a step today (even a small step will work) in the direction of your BHAG.