Why Your Big, Hairy Audacious Goal is More Like a Space Shuttle Launch Than a Bobsled Run

by: JD

by JD on October 21, 2011

[ Note: I stole "Big Hairy Audacious" from Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. Buy it. ]

I’m days from leaving Michigan. The plan, from the beginning (like a year ago), was to hop on my bike and drive away.

Said plan has been delayed repeatedly because said motorcycle is broken.

- Fuck.

I’ve been busting my ass to get it sorted ← Reason Excuse for lack of blog posts lately.

But, all that to say what my the real problem is, why you’re also going to encounter it, and how you can push through it.

The Problem With Big Hairy Audacious Goals
(Like riding your Motorcycle to South America)

You will encounter resistance. Like, a shit ton of it.

I wasn’t expecting this little journey to be easy, I knew there would be hard parts. But, I figured after quitting my job I’d hop on my bike and ride away. The hard stuff was supposed to come later.


Problem after problem keeps cropping up, delaying my departure by yet another day. It’s frustrating as hell as I wanted to be on the road YESTERDAY (literally). But, here’s the deal:

How This Applies to You

Seth Godin calls it the resistance, or, the Dip. Right before the lofty dream is realized, is when your efforts will seem most futile and your work least effective. It is the moment in which you are most likely to quit. What’s the cause?

According to him, the Lizard Brain.

Your Lizard Brain is actually your Amygdala. Two little almond like structures in the back of your brain (near your brain stem) that control your instinctual responses to things.

I’m not going to get into serious depth on this. But, in short, your Lizard Brain tries to keep you safe. In our not too distant past (as humans), this helped us avoid predators and pursue mates. It still serves a purpose, but it can also hamper your creativity and ambitions by causing you not to take risks.

Failure to avoid Lions could result in your death, failure have a successful book launch just hurts your ego – but the two risks feel the same. Unfortunately, you have to risk failure in order to do work that is extraordinary.

“You become a winner because you’re good at losing. The hard part about losing is that you might permit it to give strength to the resistance, that you might believe that you don’t deserve to win, that you might, in some dark corner of your soul, give up.


~Seth Godin

My own examples of the resistance the last few weeks:

- Trying to buy and find motorcycle luggage and racks that cost less than $600. (Too much cash, this thing is happening on a super small budget – to the tune of 3K) I got so frustrated with this process that I just stopped looking for stuff. I had this weird sense of pressure to get my shit (so I could pack my stuff and leave), while simultaneously feeling like I just wanted to do nothing.

The resistance.

- Almost hit a car and totalled my truck (a day before I was going to sell it. I seriously needed that money!).

The resistance.

- Sold my truck to a crook who ended up stealing my license plate, my tools and my registration. Which wasted a bunch of my time getting things sorted with the State of Michigan. Long story (partly my fault).

The resistance.

Not only was this stuff inconvenient and frustrating to deal with (as I have a list about 6 miles long of things to get done before leaving), it made me feel like a jackass. It made me feel like throwing in the towel and quitting before I even left.

I’m not going to do that.

You Will Encounter the Resistance

You know how it feels. You sit down to write that song, craft that blog post, train for that race, or build that website – and you just can’t bring yourself to do it. The inspiration and motivation isn’t there.

Listen, you’re sabotaging yourself. And it’s totally normal.

How to Hit The Road, Write The Song, and Launch the Business
(How to Beat The Resistance)

Show up and plow forward. Not with grim determination (that will frustrate you), but with acceptance of the fact that the very reason this shit is hard is BECAUSE it’s important. Your Lizard Brain wants you to stay safe, to do it the easy way. It wants you to quit so you can go back to what you know and never fail or do anything spectacular.

This is why your ambitious goal is like launching a Space Shuttle. If the rocket propulsion stops, at any point, the Shuttle falls to the ground and never makes orbit. There can be no let-up, it must plow forward until it breaks Earth’s gravitational pull.

And that is exactly what you have to do.

It’s not like a bobsled. I.E., push it hard for a quick sec and then enjoy the ride. If you do that, you won’t make it. Get out the bobsled (not a typo), you’re flying the Shuttle, bitch.

Seriously, you have to keep going, because you have a choice.

You can either embrace the resistance, accept it totally, for what it is. Or, you can be angry and frustrated (which will only cause further anger and frustration).

The resistance is here because you’re on the edge. The edge of making it.

Don’t quit.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Caroline October 21, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Awesome post John and very true. I’m so sorry to hear about the delay for the trip…but i’m sure you will make it really soon and i’m so excited for you! Sure we all have problems to sort out, things to fix, money to save but it’s because we are trying to achieve something, to realize a dream. People who try nothing don’t encounter that much struggles because, well, they do nothing much and their lives are boring as hell.

Maybe resistance is the proof that we are actually doing something? And you are definitely trying to live your dream of John, so proud of you!

Best x

AlexK October 21, 2011 at 9:53 pm

What kind of bike did you get and what’s wrong with it?

Jesse October 22, 2011 at 10:30 pm

As you know, I’m having the same problems with my target being moved further and further back on me. Its often hard to know whether its right to “take a step back and re-evaluate” or push on relentlessly. You can do it, boss. Keep twisting the throttle(especially in the sand).

JD October 23, 2011 at 6:26 pm

@ Caroline,
I couldn’t agree more. I think the resistance is the evidence that’s it’s worth doing. I’m pushing through it, and hoping other people (like you) will do the same when it’s their turn.

Ended up buying a drz400s. Great bike, 7000 miles on the body, 1500 on the engine. Had a weird shudder in the front end when going over 50mph. Just got it back after having the front wheel balanced and that seems to have solved the problem. :-) Thanks for asking man. Hoping to get a new rear spring on it, attach some boxes and be off this week. :-)

Thanks for the words of encouragement, Jesse. I know that EXACT feeling. Just go with your gut. If you know deep down it’s the right thing to do, just keep pushing. You’ll break out. :-)

AlexK October 23, 2011 at 11:56 pm

My girlfriend’s DRZ400s had a tendency to wobble back and forth when I put new DOT knobbies on it. I switched her wheels over to my DRZ and put my less aggressive tires on her bike and it fixed the problem. My bike hasn’t wobbled with those tires. The wobble was never scary, just annoying and she was a new rider at the time.

JD October 24, 2011 at 11:41 am

Yeah, my deal was very similar. Started with the knobbies and figured that was the problem. So, I removed them and put more enduro type tires on it. There was some improvement but it didn’t solve the problem completely. Tightening up the rear suspension seemed to help, then getting that front wheel balanced eliminated it completely.

I kinda thought that was weird as I didn’t think people really balanced dirt bike & Enduro wheels?

The guy at the shop recommended I take the rim lock out. Do you think that’s safe?

AlexK October 24, 2011 at 6:25 pm

I don’t think you need a rim lock unless you will be running really low air pressure like 10 psi. On a dual sport you would never do that so you are safe without a rim lock. Actually I’m surprised the S model has rim locks at all, they may have been added by the previous owner.

JD October 24, 2011 at 6:44 pm

hmmm, ok. Thanks for the advice, Alex! He basically rode this thing on dirt only so he may very well have added them. :-)

Tim October 25, 2011 at 9:38 am

Thanks John,

Definitely needed to read this today. Good luck.

- Tim

JD October 25, 2011 at 11:48 am

Thanks for the comment, Tim. Hope I was able to help. :-)

Robert November 10, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Just ran across your site and wishing you well. In Sept 2008 I took an 8 month motorcycle trip from Eastern Canada to Ushuaia, at the southern tip of South America. You will not regret your experiences. There will be many!

JD November 10, 2011 at 8:58 pm

Thanks Robert! Sounds like you had an amazing trip. I’m sure you’re right. I’m already really enjoying it, and I’m only 700 miles from home! :-)

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