As usual, Jonathan Fields wrote a beautiful post. It’s titled What Are You Building? It includes a very nice, very well-done and very deserved lead-in interview with Pam Slim and her new book: Body of Work.
Reading it reminded me I planned to post this on New Year’s Day. But I was too busy working on two of the BHAGs to tell you about it.
BHAG or Big Hairy Audacious Goal is the phrase Jim Collins coined in his book Built To Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies.
It’s popular. It’s so descriptive, anyone hearing it for the first time gets it. I like it, though I rarely use it.
I’m private; born under a bad sign, I guess, in this digital share all (please stop...we can’t) age. I’m also aware of how serendipity, fate or dumb luck, plays a big role in my life. Hard work, practice and practice, patience and laboring in the trenches are key. But...out of left field opportunities land in in a pattern and schedule I can’t see.
I also have a relentless curiosity and desire to...well, do it all. Do everything. But, the challenge has always been to corral the drive, the focus, the perfectionism with the restless creativity and curiosity.
Whatever. Now’s the time to take that step to define a BHAG and...tell someone about it.
My BHAGs for 2014 are:
Finish 3 marathons and 1 ultra-marathon. A marathon is 26.2 miles and an ultra-marathon is anything longer. These usually start at 30+ miles.
I completed two marathons this year. The most recent was Pilgrim Pacer Marathon in Shawnee/Lenexa, Kansas. Beautiful day, great course. The first one was the Paavo Nurmi Marathon in Hurley, WI. Great race, beautiful area, wonderful people. And hilly, very very hilly.
I learned I need to run hills, run more hills and run ‘em again. And run on pavement too. Now, that I’ve got a base of conditioning, I can focus on this big area.
The ultra marathon is a big step towards one of my Maha-BHAG. That is completing one of the following races before I’m eligible for social security:
Driving home one night from a miserable holiday gathering, I committed to this Maha-BHAG while I was talking with a sister. She’s not a runner but she was supportive and she heard my urgency.
Along the way, I'll catch up with Janette Murray-Wakelin and Alan Murray who just finished 365 consecutive marathons as they circled Australia. How did they celebrate that feat? They ran one more, making it 366 consecutive marathons, to set a world record. - Link Oh. And, she’s a cancer survivor. Oh, and they’re raw-food vegans. My raw-food consumption is about on pace with my running. I’m eating raw greens and veggies once a day. NO. Seriously. And, I like it. Hat tip to Suzie Poirier, too.
I'm waiting on feedback from a few trust friends and then I'll push out a book on employee recognition. You may have read a few posts here on that topic in the recent weeks and years. Writing and publishing them here was my test marketing and proof of concept.
I’ll publish two more books on employee recognition/engagement this year.
I’m also in the latter stages of finishing a fiction book. I’ll start publishing that book in segments starting the end of February.
Both categories, fiction and non-fiction, arose in me as a personal challenge and a hopefully not overblown self-confidence.
I don’t find abundant amounts of meaningful content on employee recognition. Hear me. There are thoughtful academics and well-written posts on the topic. But, I read too many platitudes or powerpoint principles or generic and safe stuff a consultant might offer in a glossy folder. Don’t get me going on the trinkets and bribes that describe the solutions of too many vendors.
What’s lacking are the real-world, up from the trenches, solutions that real-world businesses can use and written in language that shows the author’s been there done that. I’m not saying I’m a Subject Matter Expert nor a [gag] ‘thought leader’ on the topic. But I’ve done more with employee recognition than stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night. It opened the door for all the solutions that allowed our company to thrive in a commoditized industry against rivals far larger than our itty-bitty company.
I’ve learned a tremendous amount while I’ve compiled all my notes and earlier posts and more research and content for the book. Completing these books will be an iterative process; each one’ll be easier, faster and deliver better results.
Likewise for the fiction book. One day I looked at what I was reading and thought “Hell, I can write that good.” Yes and mostly no. It’s harder than it looks. Good writing looks simple and effortless. It is...but only with great investment of time. I’m seeing glimpses.
Being restless and still filled with wanderlust I decided...why have 1 BHAG. The challenge is to not end up on December 31, 2014 having reached none of them.
Here’s my thinking on reaching them all. Each BHAG compliments the other. The goal and miles of finishing 3 marathons and an ultra-marathon in 2014 keeps me healthy, energized, inspired for the more cerebral BHAGs. On those long runs, with nothing to do but run and breathe, creative solutions ease their way into view and/or more steps for the other BHAGs are presented and at some point the mind is stilled and there’s peace and quiet. That’s good, too. The endorphins and neurotransmitters emitted while I’m running, the oxygen and blood to the brain, fuels my writing. After a run and the next day on the longer runs I’m more productive writing and problem-solving.
And vice versa. Sitting, writing, being in my head, pushing out another sentence or a rewrite or a format issue...reaching my daily quota of words written...inspires the drive to ‘go for a run,’ stretch and breath and feel the blood flow again.
It’s like cross-training.
So far, that’s working.
What’s your BHAGs for the year? Or, as Jonathan Fields asks What Are You Building? I’m not asking like I’m all smarty-farty 'cause I finally found the courage to post mine. Go read Jonathan’s post and listen to his conversation with Pam Slim. Awesome. Leave your answers at his post.
I’m asking because the process of identifying these and articulating them and walking through the plan for the next year has been illuminating, educating, inspiring...a little daunting and scary at times. We all have to help each other define and reach our possibilities for our selves, our families, our companies and communities. So, just ask yourself and dare yourself to walk out on your high dive and bounce it on a little for the world to see. Check if there’s water below you or will be by the time you splash down and then...step off.