By Michael Gunther

Well, at least that’s what I thought when I (along with my team, after a little encouragement from me) committed to running an upcoming half marathon. Now, I’m not a true runner—in fact, I haven’t run more than 1.5 miles at a time in the last year. And quite honestly, I’ve put on a few lb’s to boot. I’m also fast approaching 50, and feeling every ache in muscles I didn’t even know I had. So as we enter our third week of training, I’m wondering…”What was I thinking?”

It all started a few months ago when Get Off The Couch, Potato Inc. (the organizer of the race) approached us to assist them in launching this inaugural event. I thought, “Wow, maybe we can get a team together and use their coaching services to help us get conditioned for the race.” I knew I wanted to get back on the healthy band wagon, and our company’s internal motto this year is “Shake it up,” so, I thought, what a great way for us to generate some team cohesiveness and get healthy along the way!

To be honest, I’m actually thrilled to be working towards this BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal, as proposed by James Collins and Jerry Porras in their 1994 book entitled Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies).  A BHAG encourages companies to define visionary goals that are more strategic and emotionally compelling.

It’s amazing to think that in 16 weeks I can go from barely running at all to running more than 13 miles. Now, I haven’t run the race yet, but I’m already focused on achieving this once seemingly impossible goal. We have our runs outlined for every week up to the race. I’ve scheduled the daily runs into my personal calendar as well. I feel like I’ve already won on a numbers of levels: exercising again, feeling challenged, getting better and faster each week, and motivated to do something outside of work that gets me out of the office earlier than normal.

Our running team continues to evolve as some employees and friends who got caught up in my enthusiasm and were going to run the race realized they really don’t like running and decided to cheer us along or do the 5K instead. As they decided not to run, new players have stepped up to the plate and have begun the process to get prepared for the big race. Much like any business goal, different skill sets and talents arise as the needs present themselves.

In addition, the energy and enthusiasm for our other goals in the office has intensified. Our team is all about measuring our success, so they created a chart of our progress towards this race with the runners checking off their daily runs. The team cohesiveness I was hoping for is falling into place as we talk about our training aches and pains (mostly me sharing mine), support each other on our runs, compare running shoes, GPS tracking devices, etc.

Now, I’m not suggesting that every team run a half or full marathon, but I would suggest that you as a leader identify a BHAG and get your team invested in the goal that is going to get people out of their comfort zones, push the limits of their abilities, and bring the team together, focused on achieving a common goal.

Bottom Line

Set some BHAG’s for you and your team. They may seem impossible or the journey too challenging—but stay committed to your action towards achieving these goals. Before you know it, the aches and pains will fade as you and your team push your skills to new levels and your goals get closer and closer to becoming a reality.

This is another article in a series on Michael’s entrepreneurial story and how being raised in a large family has influenced his career. To read the previous articles in this series, visit his blog at

Michael Gunther is Founder and President of Collaboration LLC, a team of highly skilled business professionals who are dedicated to assisting proactive business owners to build profitable, sustainable businesses through results-oriented education and consulting services. Learn more at

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