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  • Keith Jeffrey

What's your Big Hairy Audacious Goal?

The unforeseen benefits of pursuing a passion project.


About 2 years ago I wrote this book.

Obviously no proper publishing company wanted any part of it so I published it myself. Spent some money on a small run, got it uploaded to Amazon and waited for the cheques to roll in. Took 8 years to write that bleeding thing and so I wanted, expected, a big impact. Maybe it would be a bit slow at first but then people would say “Wow! What an amazing book!” and word of mouth would build and it would become one of those self-publishing sensations.

Of course you can guess what happened.

Zilch

Nowt

Nada.

Of course there was nothing, my wide eyed yet myopic (pick the bones of it that one) optimism had fooled me yet again.

Waterstones refused to carry it, the local paper weren’t interested and you need a magnifying glass to see the sales figures. “The Birth of the Crimson Saint” currently resides at 40,045 in the Historical fiction section of Amazon.

Clearly it was a failure, I didn’t spend 8 years spending hour after our producing this masterpiece only for a couple of dozen people to buy the bleeding thing.

Yet I was proud of it. Some of the people who read it really enjoyed it, there are 5 star reviews on the Amazon page. No sales but I’d done it, to a standard I felt was comparable to any commercial work of fiction.

Time passed, the the pain subsided and I moved on but, over time, I noticed a number of benefits emerging from having achieved this life-long goal.

I write better, obvs, but in the round I am a better communicator. This helps in pitches and applications. It helps me understand what a customer might need from a particular situation so I am able to work at a higher, more emotionally intelligent level.

It improved my confidence. I know I can write a novel and a pretty good one. The sense of fulfilment which came from the validations of those nice enough to say good things about the book sustains me, even now. I’ve even started another one in the hope that I can get that published and even earn a few quid.

It toughened me up.

Rejection for writers is the norm, I currently in rank 1,263,123 in the Amazon chart and since nobody has bought a copy in a year I’m guessing there are thousands of others sharing a similar ranking. Starting BreakThrough means I have the resilience I need. So my skin is thicker, my resolve stronger and I can keep moving on.

It cleared my thinking. I had this ambition lurking within me for years so I can move on to other equally unrealistic ambitions such as becoming a leadership expert.

A blockage has been cleared.

I’ve improved my concentration, I can focus down on nitty gritty details far more effectively as a result of painstakingly reviewing and editing my document

I can get to the nub much more quickly. I can explain with clarity ideas far better than I ever could before.

For some people their perception of me changed. I know they see a proper writer there and nothing means more to me than that. Some didn’t like the book but some did and that’s enough, though it wasn’t at the time.

It demonstrated the power of narrative. We each have a story to tell, but are we able to tell it to our best effect? If you are developing a business you are telling a story, there is a beginning a middle and an end. Understanding that has been helpful. It has become I something I regularly touch on with clients.

So I set up a Big Hairy Audacious Goal and achieved it.

Turns out there is academic research to confirm the value of Goal setting and its positive impacts on psychology. Check Caroline Adams Miller.

Achievement is also a key aspect of flourishing.

So, I’m a better more rounded person as a result. I’ve achieved a goal and as result I’ve grown in all sorts of unexpected ways. It was a big thing to do, far bigger than I anticipated but I did it.

So what about you? Have you set Big Hairy Ambitious Goals? For yourself as much as your business.

Take some time to reflect on the following:

- What is important to me?

- Is it big and challenging?

- What would it mean if I achieved it?

- How do I do it and what are the obstacles?

- What’s the plan?

- How do I keep on working towards it?

More reading

Want help in setting Goals?

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