Big Hairy Audacious Why

Many working in corporate America recognize the term – Big Hairy Audacious Goal.  A big, hairy and audacious goal is inspiring and at times appears unattainable.  It is big.  It is hairy.  It is audacious.  A big goal drives organizations to focus all their time, energy and resources in efforts to obtain.

But, is having a Big Hairy Audacious Goal enough?  I argue, no.  Oftentimes goals are never obtained.  I believe the lack of goal achievement stems from lack of purpose.  A lack of a big “why”.  In the moment, the “why” appears to be spectacular on a whiteboard in a leadership meeting.  Without an underlying passion (“why”) to achieve the goal, the goal will never leave the whiteboard.

Question. Why do you want to achieve this Big Hairy Audacious Goal?  Because, it is big?  Because, it will put you on the map?  Having a big goal is not enough.  Every leader and organization needs a Big Hairy Audacious Why as the foundation to achieve a Big Hairy Audacious Goal.


Big goals die and fade away without a big “why”.  The “why” is the inspiration.  The “why” keeps you going when you want to quit.  The “why” keeps you up late at night.

Goal Example:
What: I want to lose 30 pounds by December 2012
How: by  working out 4 days a week and eliminating carbohydrates and carbonated beverages from my diet
Why: because my wife and children deserve a healthy husband and dad.

Think about this example.  30 pounds is great.  Eliminating carbohydrates and carbonated beverages is a phenomenal and disciplined feat.  But, being a healthy and energetic dad and husband is the driving force.

The what and how are pointless without the WHY.


  • Peggy Haymes

    In my experience, it’s the audacious “why” that keeps us going when our progress towards the goal is frustrated, detoured or just too darn slow.

    • Tim

      Absolutely Peggy. That is why so many organizations need a “why”.