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Parents, What’s Your BHAG?


Submitted by Joe Beckman

Is one of your goals in life to become “a great parent?” I would assume that most people taking the time to read a blog on parenting and fatherhood strive for something like that. I am no exception. But I’ve got to be honest, there are days when I ask if I am cut out for this. There are days when I can’t take another meltdown, or when I can’t answer another question, or play another imaginary game of Disney princesses, or hear one more syllable of whining. Days when I truly wonder if I am cut out to be a “great parent.”

Recently I listened to the audio book, Built to Last by Jim Collins, a book about creating companies that are not only successful now, but also for generations to come. Collins’ book as well as the sequel Good to Great is phenomenal reads (or listens) for anyone with entrepreneurial curiosity.

Collins argues that the companies that want to be recognized for their current success in the present as well as their continued success in the future should have a BHAG. Big Hairy Audacious Goal.

The authors define a BHAG (pronounced BEE-hag) as a form of vision statement "...an audacious 10-to-30-year goal to progress towards an envisioned future."

A true BHAG is clear and compelling, serves as unifying focal point of effort, and acts as a clear catalyst for team spirit. It has a clear finish line, so the organization can know when it has achieved the goal; people like to shoot for finish lines.

—Collins and Porras, 1996

Microsoft’s BHAG way back when was to have a computer in every home in America

Twitter’s BHAG is to become the pulse of the planet

Youth Frontier’s BHAG (the non-profit I work for) is to change the way young people treat each other in every hallway, every lunchroom, every classroom, every playground, in every school in this country.

As I was listening to this book I couldn’t help but think about what my BHAG should be as a parent. Running a family in many ways is like running a business. In order to be successful at either, not only do you need to put in the time and effort, but you also have to have clear goals.

“Being a great parent” is not a BHAG. It’s certainly something to strive for but it’s totally vague. Just as every small business owner wants to be “successful”, every caring parent would like to think they are “great.” But it’s the BHAGS that are going to keep you accountable, tuned in, and most importantly…present.

BHAGS can be small like making sure you tell your kiddos that you love them at least once everyday, or a sitting down for a family meal at minimum 3 times per week.

BHAGS can be bigger. Maybe you want to send your child to a private school, and you will sacrifice something or pick up a second job in order to pay for the tuition.

I think if we took the time to sit down and start writing out some of the “big picture” objectives we hope to accomplish as a parent, it wouldn’t take us long to fill the page. But I would argue that without having goals, and focal points of effort with clear finish lines, we’re going to be a bit lost.

Yes I want to be a “great parent” but today I will strive for making sure all electronic devices are shut off when I’m playing princesses.

Yes I want to be a “great parent” but today my goal is to be patient and understanding when my 4-year old melts down and needs my attention during the middle of the football game.

Yes I want to be a “great parent” and in order to get there; I’m going start setting up my BHAGS.

So…what are some BHAGS for you?



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