Technically, I’ll be snowboard mountaineering – climbing the Tian Shan mountains of Kyrgyzstan on foot and snowboarding down – but ski mountaineering has a better ring to it.
Adventure is a recurring theme in my life. I like going to new places. Preferably wild places. I like physical adventure that requires skill, strength, and endurance, and has at least a modicum of danger associated.
When I heard of the ski/snowboard trip my buddies were planning I was in before I even asked for the details. Here’s the thing: this is not your standard ski trip. The goal is to fly to the other side of the planet (literally), navigate the logistics of a developing/former Soviet nation, and live out of a yurt base camp in a band of the Himalayan mountains for more than a week.
From there, the meat of the expedition is mountaineering up some of the world’s most remote mountains to ultimately snowboard the pristine, isolated, and potentially treacherous runs back down.
Here’s the other thing: I’ve never gone ski mountaineering. Hell, I had to look up what that phrase meant when I heard it.
I’ve been snowboarding for about fifteen years now. Mostly under the controlled conditions afforded by staying “inbounds.” I’ve been lucky over the years to have been stationed in places like Japan and Washington State allowing for frequent trips to some of the best ski mountains on the planet. I’ve been luckier to do it with guys who have been more skilled than me.
When I was still very much a novice, my friends showed me the ropes. They pushed me to go just past my limits. Comfortable with blue runs? Let’s do a black. Having fun on the groomers? Let’s get into the trees. My comfort zone grew in direct relation to how uncomfortable I was willing to get. The simplest way to do that, it turns out, is to surround yourself with people who are better than you are and set goals at the bleeding edge of your capabilities. So that’s what I did.
I’ve come to view discomfort – sometimes in the extreme – as an utterly necessary condition for growth. The amount of discomfort one is willing to endure sets the limit for the growth he can achieve.
But discomfort for its own sake is just…uncomfortable. Discomfort in the pursuit of a defined objective is the recipe for growth. Therein lies the goodness of setting reach, or Big Hairy Audacious Goals.
Big Hairy Audacious Goals, or BHAGs, provide a lofty target and, if set correctly, require the development of the skills, problem-solving abilities, and fortitude to ultimately raise your level. By giving yourself a clear aim and purpose, your effort and energy are focused.
The BHAG model of goal setting opens the door to outsized growth because it forces you to get uncomfortable in a directed, focused way. Specifically, BHAGs provide:
Purpose: BHAGs provide a clear purpose and direction, uniting efforts and focusing energy towards a common goal. This leads to increased motivation and productivity.
Inspiration: BHAGs inspire, creating excitement and enthusiasm. This leads to greater commitment and creativity.
Urgency: BHAGs create urgency, being time-bound and requiring immediate action. This prioritizes tasks and resources, accelerating progress.
Innovation: BHAGs demand creative and innovative thinking to be achieved. This leads to new insights and breakthroughs, fostering accelerated improvement.
Growth: BHAGs drive personal and professional growth, pushing individuals out of their comfort zones. This leads to increased competence and effectiveness.
BHAGs provide clear, inspiring targets that push individuals to their limits and, in doing so, redefine those limits. BHAGs lead to motivation, engagement, creativity, and success.
Kyrgyzstan is my BHAG. I am departing my comfort zone in almost every way I can imagine. I’ve committed to a time-bound goal that requires training with urgency. I am building the skills, endurance, and knowledge set I need to operate safely and effectively as a member of a team in an unforgiving environment.
I’m going on an adventure and I’m fired up about it.
This is where the outsized growth happens.
Whatever your thing is – physical, mental, spiritual, professional, whatever – consider setting a BHAG that exists at the bleeding edge (or just beyond) your capabilities. It will require you to train, innovate, learn, and grow quickly. If you make setting and running down your BHAGs a habit – the sky’s the limit.
This is why I’m going to Kyrgyzstan.
What BHAG can you set today to kickstart your journey to becoming the person you aspire to be? Let me know.