I love the movie Terminator. I first watched it when I was in middle school, and even back then the thing that struck me was the Terminator’s focus. He had exactly one goal: kill Sarah Connor. Nothing else mattered. Kill everyone in a police station? No problem if it means he’s more likely to kill Sarah Connor. Destroy an entire clothing store? Didn’t care as long as he’s one step closer to killing Sarah Connor.
Any collateral damage he created in pursuit of his goal did not matter, because that’s exactly what it means to have one and only one goal.
Last week my daughter asked me about Terminator because there are so many cultural references to it, and as I was explaining the Skynet robot’s singular focus to her it dawned on me that zombies are pretty much the same.
Zombies want to eat human flesh, and they don’t give a rat’s ass about anything else. They don’t care if you hurt them. They don’t care if they hurt each other. They are literally going to try to eat you until they die. Again. Nothing can even distract them momentarily from that goal.
A few months ago, I wrote a post about how we all have way too many goals. (Which really means I realized that I have way too many goals, processed my feelings in writing, and projected my dysfunction onto the rest of humanity. #Blogging!) And then I found these two great examples — zombies and terminators — who have laser focus on just one goal. They have this singular focus but they’re both totally evil. WTF?
Here’s the deal: laser focus on fewer and fewer goals dramatically increases your likelihood of success. Every goal you ditch bumps up the chance that you achieve the goal(s) that remain.
But here’s the catch. Only one goal turns you evil.¹
And the realization that only one goal turns you evil made a lightbulb go on regarding something that has bothered me for almost eight years.
When I read Start With Why by Simon Sinek, I was confused why “profits” aren’t a good enough WHY? (If you haven’t read Start With Why, here’s my 87 second book review.) But the thing with WHYs is you can’t have multiple WHYs; you only have one WHY. “Your WHY is the purpose, cause or belief that inspires you to do what you do. When you think, act, and communicate starting with WHY, you inspire others.”
But think about it; every business implicitly has profit as a goal.² But when your WHY, your core purpose, is to make a crapload of money with your business (which inherently needs profit to survive and thrive), that singular focus on profit either turns you into a evil, gross zombie or an evil, hot robot.
Most MLMs fall into this category. Often their singular focus is to make money, and they are effective at inspiring others with that WHY. That’s how most MLMs grow: “Amway will make you a millionaire!” But then everybody dreads it when you show up at Thanksgiving because barf.
Having fewer goals makes us effective, and having a WHY that’s not “profits” makes us human and good and tolerable. But the problem is, most of us haven’t gotten there. As a firm leader, every day you spend time worrying about and strategizing over profit. But most of us spend, what, like one day a year thinking about our WHY. And even then we’re thinking about it, not worrying about it or strategizing over it.
Figure out what your other-than-profits WHY is. It’s the cure for the zombie apocalypse.
Oh, and by the way, the Terminator never achieved his one goal. #RobotArmageddonFail
¹Unless that one goal is to be ethical. Stop trying to poke holes in my theory.
²Unless that business is a front for a former science teacher’s highly successful crystal meth business. Seriously, stop.
Greg was born in Akron, Ohio, in the shadow of the Firestone tire factory. He began to swim competitively when he was eight, swimming for the Mountlake Terrace Lemmings. He graduated in 1995 from the University of Washington with a math degree. He chose math for the ladies. After serving ten-years as an 8th grade math teacher, he decided it was time for a career change, mainly because he “couldn’t stand those little bastards.” He began his accounting career with a local CPA firm in Orem, Utah, where he consistently failed the QuickBooks ProAdvisor advanced certification exam. Greg currently works as the Controller for the Utah Valley Physicians Plaza. He lives in Utah, but manages to make it to Greenville, SC once a year to emcee Deeper Weekend. He enjoys eating maple bars, drinking Diet Pepsi, and swearing.