I am a drummer with the Ceremonial Band of the Waterloo Regional Police. We are both a marching and concert band.

One of the longest parades we do is the Kitchener-Waterloo Thanksgiving Day Parade. The parade is over 4 km from start to finish.

I have lived in this city my whole life. I know the route intimately. When you’re at the start of the parade, it can feel overwhelming when you think about how far you are about to march.

To get through the parade, I play a little mind trick with myself. I don’t think of the big parade we’re about to do. I think of the four small parades we’re about to do. The four parades happen to be one after the other.

This mind trick means I am thinking how short a 1 km parade is. It might sound kind of weird, but it works to keep me focused on my playing.

Don’t focus on the BHAGs

I once knew a leader who set a BHAG (Big Harry Assed Goal) for his team. He knew it was a stretch goal, and likely beyond the mark for what was needed. It was an essential goal for the financial viability of the company.

The leader did a good job of defining and communicating the goal. A lot of effort went into ensuring everyone knew the desired outcome and their role. Despite his efforts, they failed to meet the goal.

Lead them to the next street corner

Setting a BHAG is not a problem. Trying to jump straight to the BHAG is difficult for people to get their head around. We’re just not wired to process that level of complexity in our mind. The big goals they couldn’t connect with are why it becomes so easy to say “why bother?”

Instead of leading your team directly to the BHAG, break it down much as I do for the parade. You will still want to share the BHAG. However, focus on the street corner 1 km into the parade. It’s not as far, and people can envision what it’s going to take to get there.

Once you get, there celebrate and acknowledge what you have achieved. Then, do it again. Keep doing this, and looking for ways to improve.

Suddenly, you might find yourself at your BHAG.

Building Great Teams

Building Great Teams

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