Those of you that have read Jim Collins business bible “Built to last” are familiar with the term BHAG – Big Hairy Audacious Goal – and the value of setting such goals. Some classical BHAG’s are:
- “Democratize the automobile”, Ford, early 1900’s
- “Become the company that most changes the worldwide image of Japanese products as being of poor quality”, Sony, early 1950’s
- “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.”, Kennedy, May 25, 1961
When each of the above BHAG’s were announced any sane person would for sure deem it an impossible goal, a foolish target that would be impossible to reach. Yet each of those targets were achieved because it was such a Big Hairy Audacious Goal. Shy boys don’t get to kiss pretty girls, humble goals achieve mediocre results…
So here’s another BHAG to add to the list of things that seem completely insane when announced by me:
Make it to the 2024 Olympics in Mixed Offshore
Yes, it’s OK, you can laugh at it, I understand that it sounds absolutely bonkers 🙂
I laughed at the idea myself in the beginning, after all I’m just an amateur. But then I thought more and more about it, couldn’t get the idea out of my head, had many sleepless nights and finally came to the conclusion that I need to do a proper analysis and think it through seriously.
Whenever you’re faced with a major decision it’s good to nail down the possible outcomes of the different choices. In this case there are two possible choices that lead to three different outcomes:
- Run for the Olympics – and make it
- Run for the Olympics – and don’t make it
- Business as usual – keep on sailing just for fun
Let’s quickly run through the different outcomes and what they mean on a personal level.
1. Run for the Olympics – and make it
Awesome! I think that everyone that has ever done any kind of ambitious sports have dreamt of participating in the Olympics. Making it to the Olympics would for sure make all the blood, sweat and tears worth it!
2. Run for the Olympics – and don’t make it
Deeply disappointing but still quite awesome. In this scenario I would of course be very disappointed, but in the end I would have become a much better sailor than I am today, I’d be much more fit, I’d be better prepared for any future sailing campaign and I would have had a lot of fun on the way. So even If I don’t make it to the Olympics there’s still huge positive gains from making a serious effort.
There is also a risk in this scenario of becoming the laughingstock of people thinking “what the f*ck did he think, he’s an amateur, of course he could never make it”. The law of Jante is unfortunately strong in Sweden… But hey, someone who makes an effort but fails always ranks higher in my book versus some person with just an opinion and a negative attitude, so it’s a risk I’m happy to take.
I need to give it a serious try to see if I have what it takes or not, but I’m fully aware that I’m currently a long way from being competitive outside an amateur league. But from my side there is no prestige, I just want to become the best sailor I can and do my outmost to make it to the Olympics.
3. Business as usual – keep on sailing just for fun
Not a bad alternative. But having a BHAG gives flavor to life and you rarely regret the things you did, only the things you didn’t do. Business as usual means I will evolve as a sailor at a much slower pace, and it also means I run the huge risk of one day in the future looking back at my life feeling disappointed that I never took the chance of reaching the Olympics.
Key takeaway: Making it to the Olympics or not, running for the Olympics is clearly a better choice than not running for the Olympics. It’s a win-win decision regardless of the outcome.
I have the time, the boat and the commitment to make this happen so why not? What I don’t have yet is a partner and the necessary skill level to compete at the highest level, but I have 3.5 years to fix that 🙂
Making an Olympic campaign obviously has its downsides as well, it’s an absolutely massive commitment, it will take a lot of time and will cost a lot of money. I’ve spoken with multiple people that have sailed in the Olympics to fully understand what it means on a personal level to make such a commitment and there are four major risks that we’ve identified:
- My company needing me
- Burn out
Divorce: I tend to get obsessed about the things that I commit to, so there’s a real danger that my wife and my family get completely sick of my Olympic effort. A divorce due to such an effort would obviously not be worth it, not even close. We’ve been happily married for close to 10 years now so there’s no way I’d risk that. This risk has been mitigated by long and deep talks with my wife and she fully supports the campaign although she thinks I’m nuts (in a positive way… I hope!).
Company: I have a company with 20 employees that I started with a good friend a few years ago and I have a strong moral obligation to the investors and employees to do everything I can to make it succeed. Fortunately, that company now has good traction and more importantly it has an absolutely stellar management team that I have complete and total confidence in. It has now reached a stage where it probably is beneficial for the company and its shareholders if I don’t meddle with the day-to-day operations, it’s better to let the management team take care of everything and I just keep a finger on the pulse. So it is very unlikely that I would be needed more than 20 hours per week in the company which gives room for 20+ hours per week for an Olympic campaign during 2021 (and even more room from 2022 and onwards).
Financial: Making an Olympic campaign will cost a lot of money, but so does recreational sailing. The additional cost for 2021 is fairly small, but from 2022 and onwards that additional cost will increase significantly but by then I hope we’ve managed to attract sponsors to offset some of that cost. In the end it might actually be cheaper to make a serious Olympic effort than just do recreational regattas, provided that the results are very good. Yes, that is probably overly optimistic thinking, but I believe making an Olympic campaign requires a positive attitude 😉
Burn out: Investing a shitload of time into something, and taking it very seriously always carry the risk of burnout. If I burnout from sailing and never want to see a sailboat again then it clearly wasn’t worth it. Sailing and being on the ocean is where I get my energy from, it means the world to me. This risk is the hardest to mitigate. I’ve never burnt out from anything before, and more importantly I’m aware of the risk, so I assess the risk to be fairly small.
Overall I think the real risks of an Olympic campaign are small and manageable, I’m aware of them and have a plan for how to mitigate them. Making a run for the Olympics is not an intuitive decision based on gut feeling, it’s an active decision after a lot of thought and analysis. Realistically the chances are small to make it all the way since I’m currently an amateur, but I just got to give it a shot with a serious effort to see if I can make it happen and since there is no prestige involved there’s nothing to lose.
So, there it is, the cat is out of the bag.
First thing that needs to be fixed is to find a female partner. The plan for 2021 is to test multiple sailors to make sure it’s a perfect fit, so don’t hesitate to reach out to me even if you don’t fit the bill perfectly or if you are not ready for a full commitment yet. As long as you fit most of the criteria, and as long as you get a positive feeling from thinking about fighting for the Olympics, you should get in contact with me. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0707 23 33 50. Please reach out to me ASAP, preferably I want to have selected the 2021 partners before end of January in order to make quick progress.
- Persistant, you should enjoy spending 48 – 72 hours of non-stop racing on the ocean.
- Strong fighting spirit, a competitive mindset.
- Have the ability to invest 20 hours or more per week into the project in total (including everything: physical training, maintenance, data analysis, building roadmaps, sailing etc). Preferably you should be able to do so all year round. This is not super critical for 2021, but very critical the coming years.
- Great if you live on the Westcoast since the boat is located one hour north of Gothenburg.
- Good physical strength and capacity
- Great mood and positive attitude despite adversity and lack of sleep.
- You’ve done, or will do, the Offshore Safety course (formal requirement for the key races).
- You have a sound attitude with regards to safety and risk (no dumb risks!)
- Good if you have a background in dinghy sailing (starts, short term tactics etc).
What’s in it for you?
So what’s in it for you if you chose to do this with me? Here are some things:
- You get to do the big races on my Figaro 3 which is one of the most fun, safe and well kept boats in Sweden.
- The boat, the electronics and the sails are in absolute mint condition.
- I’ve booked one of the top-notch Figaro 3 sailors from France to come to Sweden and help us get up to speed ASAP.
- A great adventure.
- You’ll get to sail with a partner that is dedicated, analytical, no prestige, competitive and has a clear idea of what he wants to achieve plus has a track record of making things happen.
- And if we work hard and smart then we might get to the Olympics
Looking forward to hear from you!
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