Blue Sky Goals

Blue Sky Goals

Goal setting is so important. But in truth, there are many types of goals. In the next few posts, we’ll look at different types of goals. Today we’ll look at the biggest of them all, Blue Sky Goals. Perhaps no one said it better than this man:

“Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized.” – Daniel Burnham

This quotation came from an American architect and urban planner. In fact, if you walk along Chicago’s park-bordered lakefront district you can appreciate Daniel Burnham’s vision—which lives on today. That look and feel is a result of the World’s Columbian Exposition, which Burnham headed in 1893.

Blue Sky Goals
Daniel Burnham

He went on to say:

“Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us.”

His prophesy was truer than he thought. One modest contractor who worked on that exposition was a man named Elias. His life would be a simple one of caring for his little family. Financially, he never had any big goals other than taking care of his own. But his two sons, Walt and Roy Disney, would grow up to stagger the world with their accomplishments. Their goal of creating Disneyland in 1955, and in building such parks around the world has gone way beyond that 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition.

Blue Sky Goals
This photo of the Columbian Exposition in Chicago hangs in a shop on Main Street U.S.A. at the Magic Kingdom of Walt Disney World.
Blue Sky Goals
Just outside that shop is a tribute to Walt & Roy’s father as a contractor. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

A big starting point in setting goals is to dream big. From there, you will then break it down into more manageable, practical subsets. But accomplishing big things often starts by considering what is near impossible.

An expression given to this is creating a B.H.A.G., or a “big, hairy, audacious, goal.” The concept, coined by James Collins and Jerry Porras in their 1996 article “Building Your Company’s Vision” refers to big, long-term efforts to make a paradigm shift in the marketplace. Examples they included were:

  • Ford creating an automobile that would take out the horse and buggy.
  • Sony’s efforts to change what for decades was a perception that many Japanese products produced were of poor quality.
  • Boeing taking huge risks to build the 747.

Consider: If there were no limits to what you can do, what would you do? If you knew that you would never fail, what would you go for? Blue Sky Goals are highly optimistic dreams. They may by their makeup be uncommonly aggressive, or they are simply far-fetched in their makeup.

President Kennedy asked just that when in the 1960s he spoke of going to the moon. “I believe that this Nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth.” This was more than an edict to NASA. This was more than just an executive mandate to a bunch of Federal agencies. This was a cultural shift–a re-prioritizing that changed the paradigm of what was possible for an entire country.

Ask yourself:

  • What is your big, hairy, audacious blue sky goal?
  • How much passion do you have toward that goal?
  • Does that passion provide you energy toward accomplishing that goal?
  • How often are you taking the time toward directing your energies toward the bigger picture goal?
  • What other activities in your life are preventing you from taking steps toward that goal?

There are other types of goals that are much more detailed and involved. But a great place to start when writing goals is to think big picture–blue sky. From there, those other types of goals help you to work little by little in accomplishing that goal.

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