EP4 – Staying the Course with Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGS)

The Growability® podcast is designed to teach business owners and non-profit leaders a more excellent way to run their business. This episode continues the important conversation about the role of Big Hairy Audacious Goals in your organization and how to stay on track.

Podcast Transcript:

Joshua MacLeod:
If I can’t, as the leader of an organization, create a big, hairy, audacious goal, why do I expect anybody on my team to want to be at my organization? We don’t know where we’re going.

Announcer:
Welcome to the Growability Podcast, teaching business and nonprofit leaders a more excellent way to run a business. Visit growability.com for your leadership, coaching, consultation and business collaboration needs. Today’s episode is about big, hairy, audacious goals. Here are your hosts, Joshua MacLeod and Bernie Anderson.

Joshua MacLeod:
People who have big, hairy, audacious goals are inspiring. When I think of a big, hairy, audacious goal, the thing that I want to know is, in 20 years from now, what is the impact that this business or organization will be able to make in society?

Joshua MacLeod:
Think about Steve Jobs. I was watching this video where Steve Jobs… He still had hair, so this is a while ago, and he was giving a talk, I think it was to his team. He started out and he was talking about how Scientific America did a study and discovered that the fastest and most energy-efficient animal was the condor.

Bernie Anderson:
Gotcha. Yeah.

Joshua MacLeod:
So something about their wingspan and how they made use of currents.

Joshua MacLeod:
But then, they compared that condor study to a person on a bicycle, and the person on the bicycle actually used so much less energy than a condor to go so much faster and so much further. So Steve Jobs was talking about his fascination with technology of how we can use technology to amplify human ability. A condor can’t get on a bicycle, they can’t go anywhere. But a human can use a bike to amplify the ability of man.

Joshua MacLeod:
Then he started talking about how the challenge with technology is the learning curves. If I want to pick up a computer and started using it, it’s so complex. So this is back in like Apple I or Apple IIe, where everything there’s DOS, and you have to type in notes…

Bernie Anderson:
DOS. [crosstalk 00:02:14] everyone remember what DOS is. Yeah, yeah.

Joshua MacLeod:
Yeah. There’s no Windows.

Bernie Anderson:
Right, right.

Joshua MacLeod:
I have to read a manual. That’s this thick to be able to leverage even a bit of the power in this computer.

Joshua MacLeod:
What Steve Jobs did is he said why don’t we make technology that doesn’t require an incredibly steep learning curve? And let’s make it the big, hairy, audacious goal that we can solve the problem of the necessary pre-education to using a device.

Joshua MacLeod:
So now you’ve got an iPad where my two-year-old can get on and he knows how to turn on PAW Patrol. He can find the button. He can find the season. He’s, like, “No, I’m not really on this episode.” If Steve Jobs never the clarity on the big, hairy, audacious goal, then we wouldn’t have iPads, and we wouldn’t have iPhones, and we wouldn’t have these different things.

Bernie Anderson:
Here’s what I hear you saying, Joshua, and I think this is an important piece to this. A big, hairy, audacious goal is not a quantity goal necessarily. It’s not inspiring to say, “Hey, last month we made 500 widgets, and this month we’re going to make 800 widgets.” Wooh. That’s not super inspiring to me. Why are we going to have a new thing? Why is that important? How is that going to create abundance? How is that going to simplify complexity, and how is that going to tie into what we really want to see as our big vision of the future?

Joshua MacLeod:
If I can’t, as the leader of an organization, create a big, hairy, audacious goal, why do I expect anybody on my team to want to be at my organization? We don’t know where we’re going.

Bernie Anderson:
Let’s put a real-life example on it.

Joshua MacLeod:
Sure. So one is Growability. Our big, hairy, audacious goal is to see thousands of leadership coaches located throughout the world, equipping leaders to cultivate vision, rhythm and community. So by 2040, we want to operate in a hundred cities globally and have served a hundred thousand leaders, which if you impact a hundred thousand leaders and you help those leaders cultivate vision, rhythm and community, you’re going to impact millions and millions and millions of lives. There’s thousands of relief programs and cities and teams, and so many people are going to be impacted if we impact a hundred thousand leaders. So that’s a big, hairy, audacious goal.

Bernie Anderson:
Ok

Joshua MacLeod:
But what that does for me is it said, “Okay, if in 2040, I would have impacted a hundred thousand leaders, what do I need to accomplish in the next five years? If in 2040, I want to have a hundred cities impacted, how many cities do I need to have impacted in the next five years?” If I don’t have that data, if I don’t have that idea, when I create my one-year goal and my quarterly goals, I’m really just blowing smoke. I’m not sowing in the right direction.

Announcer:
You are listening to the Growability podcast. This podcast is edited from the Growability Live Lunch and Learn, streamed live each week at 12:00 Central Time on Facebook and YouTube. Every great business leader should have a coach. Visit growability.com to find the perfect coach for your leadership needs.

Joshua MacLeod:
I was on a trip to South Africa with one of the most dynamic people I’ve ever met. We are hanging out for a couple of days in the slum in Khayelitsha so there’s a million people.

Bernie Anderson:
Wow.

Joshua MacLeod:
It’s crazy. You’ve got a million people living in just absolute poverty at the lowest rung on Maslow’s hierarchy. They struggling with clean water and stuff. And then they have this big 20-foot wall next to the highway.

Joshua MacLeod:
On the other side, it looks like LA.

Bernie Anderson:
Wow.

Joshua MacLeod:
You’ve got all of these big, nice strip malls and banks. It’s the other side of the tracks.

Bernie Anderson:
Wow.

Joshua MacLeod:
But instead of just having the tracks, they built this huge 20-foot wall so you’ve got-

Bernie Anderson:
Well, that way, you don’t have to look at the poor people, if you’re on the rich side.

Joshua MacLeod:
We don’t have to look at the people. They’re not disturbing our view. They’re going to stay over here on this side of the wall-

Bernie Anderson:
Wow.

Joshua MacLeod:
… and then we’ve got this opulence on the other side.

Bernie Anderson:
Wow.

Joshua MacLeod:
So I talked to Yung Ohm. We’re hanging out and he says, “You’re American.” I’m like, “Yup.” And he’s like, “You know what your problem is?” I love conversations that start with that. Like, “Do I… Yup. No, I don’t know. But I have a sense that I’m about to know what my problem is.”

Bernie Anderson:
I may know soon, yes.

Joshua MacLeod:
So he says, “Your problem is, is all you Americans focus so much on security that you never do amazing things.” I’m like, “What are we talking about?” He’s like, “Okay, if I give you a million dollars right now, what would you do with it?” I was like, “Oh, man, I’m not sure.” He said, “You would put it in the bank for security. You’re an America. It’s like the first thing you would do is you put it in the bank.”

Joshua MacLeod:
He said, “Now you ask me that question. If you give me a million dollars right now, what would you do with it?” So I said, “Okay, Yung, what would you do?” Then he said, “Well, I’ve already built 20 daycare centers in the Khayelitsha slum and a training center and a job vocational training. And we have 70 outreach programs and we’re doing all of this stuff.”

Bernie Anderson:
Wow.

Joshua MacLeod:
And he says, “Now I’ve got the next $10 million planned.”

Joshua MacLeod:
Then he said, “So let me ask this question. If you don’t have a plan for creating abundance for others with your million dollars I’m going to put in your hand, then why is God going to bless you with a million dollars? What you would likely do with it is put it in the bank for security, and that’s not going to do anybody any good. So that’s why I’m not going to give you a million dollar.”

Joshua MacLeod:
So when I came back from that trip-

Bernie Anderson:
Wow.

Joshua MacLeod:
… I actually created a million-dollar spending plan. One of the initiatives that came out of that planning meeting was a nonprofit I started called Instruments of Joy. So with Instruments of Joy, I wanted to give 10,000 quality musical instruments to musicians in need. And to-date, we’ve given out 550 instruments in 63 countries. When you think about it, $300 per instrument average times 500 and some-

Bernie Anderson:
Wow.

Joshua MacLeod:
… it’s nowhere near a million. But when I get to 10,000, 10,000, then I’ll have reached that big, hairy, audacious goal.

Joshua MacLeod:
Having that big, hairy, audacious goal becomes such a simplifier for everything that I do in the organization. My 20-year goal becomes a five-year goal. In five years, I need to have a couple more cities where they’re giving away instruments. Okay, those cities becomes a one-year goal. Okay, that one-year goal becomes a quarterly goal. Now when I’m working today, I’m connected to-

Bernie Anderson:
Wow.

Joshua MacLeod:
… 20 years down the road, and the things that I do today are accomplishing 20-years-down-the-road vision, simply because I have that big, hairy, audacious goal.

Bernie Anderson:
Well, and you know what I think is helpful, at least is helpful for me, so we’re currently talking to each other at the end of a year-long pandemic, right?

Joshua MacLeod:
Yeah.

Bernie Anderson:
The last year was incredibly disruptive for the entire world and it’s ongoing. I mean, India and with the rest of the world.

Bernie Anderson:
I think one of the things that having long-term goals does, your path is just a little different, but your end stays the same because you’re following a map that’s bigger than just a six months or one year or even two years, three years. I think the 20-year thing is really powerful for that purpose.

Joshua MacLeod:
Yeah. And I think that if I have a goal that’s fundamentally unreasonable and unattainable, great. So what’s going to happen, Bernie, if we’re trying to help a hundred thousand leaders, we’re trying to equip a hundred thousand leaders around the globe and we only get to like 60,000?

Bernie Anderson:
Right.

Joshua MacLeod:
Oh, no.

Bernie Anderson:
Oh, we failed.

Joshua MacLeod:
This is so terrible.

Joshua MacLeod:
So for me, for people that want to say, “Oh, you’re just trying to do something big, and you’re just trying to have all these dollars, and you’re just trying to have all of this stuff,” I personally love to set goals where it’s worth it to do if I only impacted one. But it’s really great if I can impact a multitude.

Bernie Anderson:
Right, right.

Joshua MacLeod:
Like Instruments of Joy, if somehow something happens, we don’t have any more money, we don’t have any more instruments collected, I can’t get any more instruments out, we just get one more, worth it. But if I’m able to get a thousand more, super worth it.

Bernie Anderson:
Instrumentsofjoy.org, might as well drop that.

Joshua MacLeod:
Oh, yeah. That’s a pitch for our group that support musicians, instrumentsofjoy.org.

Bernie Anderson:
Yeah. No, instrumentsofjoy.org. Check it out because it actually is great. No, perfect.

Announcer:
Thank you for listening to the Growability Podcast. We hope this episode helps you run your business in a more excellent way. The mission of Growability is to equip leaders to flourish in their life and work by developing vision, rhythm, and community. Visit growability.com for more information, and to talk with a Growability coach.