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Do you know what your problem is?
“What I’m telling you is, productivity is meaningless unless you know what your goal is,” [Jonah] says.
“Do you know what your problem is?” [Jonah] asks me.
“Sure,” I say. “I need better efficiencies.”
“No, that is not your problem,” he says. “Your problem is you don’t know what the goal is. And, by the way, there is only one goal, no matter what the company.”
The above excerpts are from The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt. The interchanges are between Jonah and Alex the two main characters. Jonah is the guru. Alex the unsuspecting student.
This book is like Jonah and I am the unsuspecting student. I’m “productive.” It’s true. Read lots of books. Produce posts on what I’m reading or thinking or talking about.
But do you know what my problem is? My problem is I don’t know what the goal is. And the fact is, I’m not a company so this book can’t help me as literally as I’d like it to. What Jonah means when he says, “no matter what the company,” is that all companies are created to make money. This becomes a bit more complicated by things like triple bottom lines, etc, but if no profit, likely no company, no shareholders, no sustainable serving of customers’ needs.
I am not a company. Making money is not my goal. I do however have a company. That company’s goal, therefore is to make money. I often work for the company I have. I could argue whether or not I’m productive, whether or not I progress toward my goal of making money. I’ll get into that in a future post.
But me as a person is what I want to talk about here. What is my goal? You might ask too, what’s my mission? Some goals that pop to my mind as I reread these early interchanges in this book:
Truth-seek - underlying process/principles
Free myself from what my friend calls jobbyjobs
Seek to understand
Learn with others aloud
Save the world
Establish Venture Attentionism as a profession to optimize attention allocation
Go overboard on hedonism
Serve my family, friends and community for the sake of health, wealth and happiness
Free my self and others (from the job loop)
Heal and be healed
Bring ideas into reality
Design learning experiences
I have a hunch that there’s a lot of people in the US who are mindlessly productive. I have a hunch many people imbibe the dogma of our religion capitalism and are productive towards an infinite goal of money accumulation. This first hunch is based on the feeling that many are like me (maybe I’m projecting) and don’t ask or don’t ask often enough what our goal is. This second hunch is based on how seldom I hear people articulate a number at which they’ll be done. At which point the goal is achieved. I’ve heard of a guy, a friend of a friend who, when he started his third startup, after exiting fairly successfully 2x, that he’d only sell if he was going to be walking away with XYZ million. And low and behold he hit the number and he’s no longer founding companies. (To be honest, I have no idea what he does now. I doubt he sits around and does nothing.) I maintain that if you don’t have a number and your main goal/energy is directed towards making money then you don’t have a goal. You’re just on a never-ending joke of a treadmill. I’d also say you’re a lot like me.
I see myself be mindlessly productive. I craft routines and stick to them and pressure myself to go go go and then do it over again the next day. I see myself without a number when it comes to my financial life and not for my business. It’s a juvenile, “a lot.” I, sadly, am goalless. And that’s my problem. Just like Alex Rogo in The Goal. No goal no productivity.
So, how do I solve my problem? How do I discover my goal? I’m not sure, but luckily I have a business. Rather, I have an LLC and a somewhat clearly articulated menu of offerings. Assuming Jonah is right in the goal then the goal of my company is to make money. Currently it does not make money. And currently I’m unsure if when I work in the context of the company if I’m being productive.
What are the questions this reflection on this early part of The Goal leaves me?
What is my goal? Me as a human being?
How do I discover my goal? Articulate it clearly so I can begin to be productive?
Am I productive when I work towards my company’s goal of making money?
How do I know if I’m being productive? Is it just if I’m making money? Because I’m definitely not making money. So maybe there’s my answer.