How to Go Big

This is the fifth in a series of short “how to” posts I’ve done.  I’m experimenting with this format.  I’d appreciate it if you would leave a comment letting me know if you life it or not.  Depending on your feedback, I’ll either stick with this format, or go back to the longer posts I’ve written for the past five years.

One of my favorite quotes on goal setting comes from Daniel Burnham: “Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably will not be realized. Make big plans. Aim high in hope and work.”

If you’re going to set goals, you might as well set big ones that “stir your blood.” Daniel Burnham should know, he designed famous landmarks like the Flatiron Building in New York and Union Station in Washington, DC.

Many people set their sights too low. They make little – instead of big – plans. I think people do this because of a lack of self-confidence. Self-confidence is an important key to your success. Facing your fears and acting is one way to become self-confident. Making big plans and setting big goals is one way of facing your fears and acting.

In Built to Last, Jim Collins and Jerry Porras suggest that successful companies need to set what they call “BHAGs” – Big Hairy Audacious Goals. Collins’ follow up book, Good to Great, begins with the idea that “good is the enemy of great,” an extension of the BHAG idea. The same kind of thinking holds for individuals. If you set big hairy audacious goals for yourself, you won’t be settling for good, you’ll be planning for great – and you’ll be likely to become great.


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  1. I prefer the longer posts. I enjoyed the mentoring tone, and also believe there was more context and depth. This shorter style feels sterile. Just because you can be more concise doesn’t mean that you should.

  2. Thanks for your comment Ian:
    It was right in line with what others had to say.
    Monday’s post will be back to the old format.

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