Transform your BHAG into Audacious Achievement

Big. Hairy. Audacious. Goals. (BHAGs)

We all have them- or we should. Yet so many people don’t. Why not is well articulated in one of my favorite quotes, written by Marianne Williamson:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”

When I first moved to New York City, 20 years ago, I had this quote on my refrigerator. I love it as much today as I did then. It is a challenge, as well as incredible encouragement. Sometimes taking that next step can be really scary- whatever it is.

When I first moved to New York I was a newly divorced single mother of two young boys. Moving to a huge city from Oklahoma was overwhelming, moving with two boys who were used to playing outside with a group of little boys running through backyards and creeks was even more daunting. That combined with the fear of taking on the pressure of a Wall Street job, and taking on the financial burden of living in an expensive place all left me at times feeling like I was hanging on the edge of a cliff by my fingertips. This quote gave me pause to consider others who had achieved far more than I had with greater challenges. The story of Abraham Lincoln’s failures prior to becoming President are well documented:

  • 1831 — Lost his job
  • 1832 — Defeated in run for Illinois State Legislature
  • 1833 — Failed in business
  • 1834 — Elected to Illinois State Legislature (success)
  • 1835 — Sweetheart died
  • 1836 — Had nervous breakdown
  • 1838 — Defeated in run for Illinois House Speaker
  • 1843 — Defeated in run for nomination for U.S. Congress
  • 1846 — Elected to Congress (success)
  • 1848 — Lost re-nomination
  • 1849 — Rejected for land officer position
  • 1854 — Defeated in run for U.S. Senate
  • 1856 — Defeated in run for nomination for Vice President
  • 1858 — Again defeated in run for U.S. Senate
  • 1860 — Elected President (success)

And there are so many similar stories of success born out of significant and objective failure. Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting while he was alive. Steven Spielberg was rejected by USCs’s film school twice. Michael Jordan was rejected from his high school varsity basketball team when he was a sophomore. JK Rowling was an unemployed single mother whose book was rejected by twelve publishers- who eventually gained revenue in excess of $20bn from the Harry Potter franchise.

The list goes on and on.

So, I moved to New York. I had goals. I realized that all of these people- both the successful people I met on a daily basis as well as the well-known stories of people who rose from failure to stupendous success, were just that. People. We all have different talents but as Marianne Williamson so brilliantly expressed, we all have a gift. If we aren’t afraid to live up to that gift, and to think really, really big we can do things far beyond our imagination.

So, you dreamed the big dream. You got your BHAG. You know you are powerful beyond measure. What is the final ingredient?

Perseverance. The most important thing that separates those who DO from those who lament not having done, is the ability to persevere. To work through the really hard times. To get knocked down and get up fighting. To never give up. That is what transforms the BHAG into Audacious Achievement