Podcast Ep 146 | Why the Greatest Leaders Obsess Over Their Goals

Are you looking to become a more effective leader?

In this episode of the “Growth Whisperers” podcast, we explore the importance of goal obsession in successful leadership. Discover why the greatest leaders are driven by a deep sense of purpose and relentless determination to achieve their goals, no matter the challenges that come their way.

Learn how to set and achieve ambitious goals that will set you apart and allow you to make a lasting impact. 

It’s not enough to have big goals. Great leaders obsess over them. They never let them out of their mind — OR their team’s mind. 




Please note that this episode was transcribed using an AI application and may not be 100% grammatically correct – but it will still allow you to scan the episode for key content.


Kevin Lawrence  00:12

Welcome to the growth whispers podcast with Brad Giles and Kevin Lawrence. In this podcast, we talk about everything that relates to building enduring great companies, not just your typical build and flip, but ones that endure for decades, generations, because we get a kick out of that. We’ll be digging into some interesting discussions today around obsession, which we’ll get to in a minute. But before Brad, how are things in your world? And what is your word or phrase of the day?

Brad Giles  00:43

Things are extraordinary in my world? And my word of the day? Immature? Isn’t that what you thought I was gonna say? Mature? Immature, immature? That’s yeah.

Kevin Lawrence  00:56

Is that the Australian version of immature?

Brad Giles  01:00

Yeah, you know, there’s another version, that’s Australian, which tells you which Creek you can go and jump in, but I won’t go there. So immature is my word of the day, thank you, and what time thinking in particular, so this kind of thesis, when we deal with people in a leadership setting, as we do, leadership, team members, etc. They got problems they got, you know, everyone’s got their own stuff going on. And all of the personalities, that the personality traits that we observe that are negative, they all kind of distill up to be one single thing, which is they’re acting immature, and so soon, and so, yeah, you got someone who’s narcissistic, or you got someone who’s not got a high enough EQ, perhaps to be able to interact in a respectful manner, or they’re biting in or whatever it is, or they’re picking on people’s accents. So I don’t know, whatever it might be.

Kevin Lawrence  02:02

Nice. I slid that in there. That was I

Brad Giles  02:04

don’t understand. But the point that I’m making is just thinking about the people. And it’s like, we can just call it immaturity. That’s my word.

Kevin Lawrence  02:14

Interesting. Interesting. Well, my word is mastery. You know, last night, we had dinner with some friends. And the one one of the couple made dinner, like mind blowing, like this. This this, he could be a master chef, he could I would put the dinner up against almost any dinner I have probably ever had. Wow, in terms of Yeah, it was it was unfreaking. believable. Like, and, and but he’s the Bennett’s master, he’s obviously put a lot of time into it. And, you know, and a lot of energy into it, and a lot of care into it. But it was like, it was masterful dinner was just shockingly, like just unbelievably good, which I didn’t know he was that great of a cook. Or almost like a chef. It was just it was beautiful. And but that’s its mastery and focusing on doing something. And the care and the intention to do it. And it was just, you know, when you see one of your friends do something like that. And we see it at work, and we see mastery everywhere, but just as fresh in my mind. And my tastebuds from that dinner last night just you know, absolute mastery. So mastery and maturity are kind of the two themes here today. And yeah, awesome. Well, let’s this let’s dig in to another term of obsession, which, you know, I would suggest that my friend was probably very obsessed with making a spectacular dinner. It was like, a obsession. And I would suggest that, you know, obsession would probably lead to mastery in a lot of cases. So

Brad Giles  03:59

what was the dinner? Like? You can’t just leave it hanging like that. What? What was for dinner?

Kevin Lawrence  04:04

Like, I could say that we had chicken and salad. Cool. It was it was like, but it was a salad with this dressing. That was mind blowing ly good. That’s good. But there was this. This past it. It was it was a special pasta noodle. I’ve never had like a hollow spaghetti that was cooked absolutely perfectly all Dante with this grilled roasted chicken on it. That I don’t know why it was so good. And then this love sauce over top that he had simmered for hours. So it was like it was chicken and pasta. And it was like Michelin restaurant quality. It was just unbelievable. Yeah,

Brad Giles  04:55

let’s talk about a session.

Kevin Lawrence  04:56

Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Okay, okay. Well, yeah, I’m almost obsessed with that dinner. was so good. Yeah, it was just, you know, I wish I’d love Master I love seeing someone do beautiful work and being a part of it. So today the theme is obsession and how obsession is really powerful, if directed to the right things, and obsession, and you know, in our last episode, we talked about Stephen Covey’s time management matrix. And, you know, if obsession is put on unimportant things, it obviously is not a healthy thing. But if it’s put on really important, meaningful things to you, it is an incredibly powerful force. And really, we looked up the definition of obsession, it’s an idea, or a thought that continually occupies or intrudes on a person’s mind. So there’s a lot of negative obsessions people can have, we’re talking obsession about something positive, and in particular, your goals. And it could be your purpose, or your behavior or something you want to do with your family or your friends or your health or who knows what, but it’s channeling your creative mind and your energies towards something that’s very, very, very meaningful to you. And, you know, it just relight relates on you just working hard at it and continuing to try things. And, you know, we were talking before the show, but when we look at people who achieve great things, there’s usually a great deal of obsession.

Brad Giles  06:30

And what’s interesting, as you’re saying that is thinking about the inverse, what’s the opposite? Yeah. Okay. So if you don’t have an obsession about big goals, well, there’s a very good chance that your team think that you just don’t care. And if the team think, right, you just don’t care, then there’s a very good chance that will lead them to not care. And then this is this kind of downward spiral loop of, well, I don’t care why should I care?

Kevin Lawrence  06:57

Right? It’s like, if if those big goals are something over there on a wall, but you don’t ever talk about it, or you don’t constantly talk about it, or bring it up? Yeah, you’re right. They’re gonna say, Well, you got there interesting, but there’s no energy there. So I’m not going to put any energy there. That’s a very, very good point. And I think that’s what it is, is that if we connect a lot of energy to it, it’s contagious to other people around. It’s also dangerous. If you’re obsessing about the wrong things, like if you’re obsessing about, you know, politics, and politics aren’t really that relevant in your business. That’s a distraction, as I talked about on the show last week, you know, if you’re obsessing about stuff on social media, and you know, and learning about things that really don’t matter to you, that can be a waste of time. And sometimes it can be bad for your brain to be obsessed about things that aren’t important or just purely distraction.

Brad Giles  07:54

There’s a there’s an entrepreneur here in Australia, friend of mine, named Naomi Simpson, she’s got a company called red balloon. And they provided she really changed the market a bit moving from giving gifts, which were things or products into giving gifts were, which were experiences. And she aggregated experiences from across Australia, you know, Halloween ballooning, or rafting or whatever it might be all massages. And so she turned them into gifts that you could give. And so she obsessed over this goal of giving 2 million experiences. And in when you walk into their office, when you used to walk into their office, they had this this massive counter, which said, how many experiences have we provided? And so everyone knew that she cared about that. Yes. Everyone knew it was hard not.

Kevin Lawrence  08:46

It’s a great example. So not only was it a big goal, but there was active energy and obsession going towards it, which helps it to come true. Yeah, it’s it’s fascinating, I think about the we looked up the data before on the story of Thomas Edison and inventing the light bulb. And we’ve heard the story that, you know, he tried 10,000 times, or failed 10,000 times trying to create it. And it was a quote from him, is that, you know, I didn’t fail 10,000 times, I just figured out 9999 things that didn’t work. Yeah. And there’s lots of truth. But you think about the amount of obsession, someone would have to continue to push to find ways to make that happen, when it seems all but impossible. And it’s interesting, and we looked up the data from one of the university site that seemed quite credible, it said in a period of 1878 to 18 ad, Edison and his associates, worked on at least 3000 different theories to develop an efficient incandescent light bulb. And I’ve heard other stories about specific experiments. So there’s probably many experiences or many experiments within those 3000 theories. And, you know, that’s I’m sure Probably that 10,000 number could be true. But the idea of it is, is it’s it’s unrelenting focus, and testing and trying to make that goal happen. And it works. And it’s energizing to be around too, especially when they’re obsessed about positive things. Yeah,

Brad Giles  10:16

yeah. Because people respect what you inspect. Like I say, if, as a leader, you spend your time on one particular thing more than over more than others. While people think to themselves, well, they care, it must be important. So if it’s the big goals, there is great cause great reason to focus on those big goals and not the hundreds that you know, the few over the meanie that really matter. This is what really matters, sending that message gets people aligned behind where you want to go.

Kevin Lawrence  10:50

Yeah, and it explains why some people, you know, might have the same ideas, but one comes out and achieves it and others don’t. It’s just time thanks. So, in my place in Vancouver, I have a coffee table that is born from this concept of obsession. And it’s a story about Henry Ford. And I think it was in the 30s. Back when Ford was when VAT engines were coming to be and Viet engines had been invented. But they were multiple chunks of steel that had to be bolted together as in modern language, there was the block, and then the heads had to be bolted on with all these moving parts. And it was hard and expensive to make. And Henry Ford was obsessed himself with you know, economical transportation for the masses. Right part of his vision was that you know, every man and and we had the words of women because it was men that were driving in those days, but should be able to have access to God’s great pastures and explore the world through his transportation. So when he decided that the V eight engine was going to be very important to Ford and a competitive advantage, and but he in his mind believed it needed to be made it a one cast block, because it was cheap and fast to make. So very efficient, Dr. Acosta, and his engineers couldn’t do it. And finally, he had a bit of a temper tantrum and a rant. And as the story goes, he said he bangs a table, I will have one, I must have one. And if you aren’t the people to develop it, some other men well. So I don’t want to see you again. And don’t come back until you have made my V eight engine out of one chunk of steel. And you know, you can imagine in the days and it might have been a little bit rough. But 18 mates months later, they came up with a final working version of what’s called the Ford flathead V eight. It’s a legendary motor. And I have one of these motors in my place where it’s broken down and made to look nice, but it’s the full working motor with a glass top on it. And I just, you know when I when I heard that story, and I’m a car nut by nature, but it reminded me of like, at that point in time, it wasn’t possible. But he took a stand that it will happen. And he was obsessed because he needed it for his capacity to give Ford a notable competitive advantage. But the main thing is because of the way it’s built, it’s super cheap and easy to make at scale. Anyway, just a great story about how that obsessive obsession pays off, when someone is willing to commit to it and get other people lined up to get it done.

Brad Giles  13:39

Yeah. Switching gears a little bit. There’s a there’s a sport in Australia most popular sport called Australian rules football. It’s not rugby, but it doesn’t matter. It’s playing with a ball on a pitch. And there’s a football club called Richmond. It’s a Melbourne suburb. And in in 2009, the main guy there Brendan Gale said a big hairy audacious goal that within 10 years, they would win three premierships, they would have $20 million in cash, because at that time, they were $25 million in debt or something. And they would have 100,000 members. And I think at that point, they had like 60 or 70,000 members, and it was leaked to the press. And within days he was on the football shows having to defend his b hag because it was so audacious and so crazy. Because to give you an idea of winning three premierships, it hadn’t really been done since the 1960s. And so it was very audacious on multiple fronts anyway, so he focused on it, and focused and focused and focused and focused and did it and so, a couple of years ago, they got that they got they won their three premierships, which was simply unheard of in The modern era, I think they had like 25 or $24 million positive cash going from, you know, minus 25. And they had like 108,000 members. And that was because he focused on it. And he just kept focusing on it. Yeah,

Kevin Lawrence  15:15

shocking, like many of the great things that have been invented in this world, like many of the great accomplishments that have happened, people are just committed, and they push through the resistance, and persistent person first they believe, and then they persist and persist, and bring all their creativity to finding a way. Yeah, another real simple version is one of the companies that I work with. Very successful company. I’ve worked with them for more than a decade. When I first started, I think they were a couple, you know, like, maybe 30 million in revenue somewhere in that range. And, you know, the CEO has a vision of hitting different levels of achievement. And then there’s football fans, American football fans. In America, they have this thing called Super Bowls, right? The big football competition, kind of like the football version of the World Cup for what is also called football, but in America, they call soccer. Yeah. And same in Canada. We call it soccer. But so what we have, and I don’t have it with me, right, I could show you but basically, that we were going to call our Super Bowls, hitting 100 million in revenue to 5500 and a billion. And so I have my 100 million ring, which is like a Super Bowl, Super Bowl style ring. And I got my 250 million ring. And, you know, we had a meeting recently, and we’re all rallied around those bought milestones that we will hit. And we had a meeting recently. And, you know, they hit I think it was for something U S, when you convert it to Canadian dollars, it’s over 500. So I’m saying Hey, Joe, hey, well, we got the Canadian, you know, 500 Super Bowl ring. Yeah. What’s your football competition call? Well, well, we got ours is called the Grey Cup. It was Yeah, well, we so we didn’t get a Super Bowl, but we got our Grey Cup, because it’s, you know, the Canadian version of football. And, and, you know, they would have hit 500. But the point of it is, all of us are like, and the ring is a token celebration. But it’s we’re obsessed with getting to the 500. And then the billion, because like why not? And it’s a purpose led company, they give a deep crap about their team and everything else. But we’ve got these little anchors to help us stay focused on our way to the to the B hag, and it’s fun. And it’s engaging, and we talk about it a lot.

Brad Giles  17:43

Yeah, yeah, this company that I work with, that comes to mind when you say that the leader was absolutely focused on having multiple services without going into who it is. So you, some people focus on the niches or niche. And others focus on trying to go wide. Well, he was focused on trying to go wide. And the problem was, the problem was that that meant that they weren’t really awesome at anything, there was one thing they were pretty good at. And that and that’s a trap for many, many people. But yes, but to his credit, a focused on saying we want to get to this point, which is a certain amount of total revenue. That meant that we can overcome the width. And through the, I guess, five years ago, through the there was some pretty tough times around here. You know, we were losing millions of dollars a year in that business. And he kept on focusing and kept on focusing and adapted and adapted, came out of it. And did it and has now kind of come through and is just getting stellar results. So it doesn’t mean that you should not focus on the knee. That’s not what I’m saying. It was about his relentless, relentless, relentless focus on building this kind of multifaceted business.

Kevin Lawrence  19:12

Right? And the learning and the testing and all that that comes as a result when you do that, versus just letting go because in many ways, you’re having to defy gravity.

Brad Giles  19:24

Defying sickness,

Kevin Lawrence  19:25

the I’m defying, I’m defining exactly. So the question I’m willing to, for us to think about is, you know, are you obsessing enough about your most important goals? That’s really what it is, are you putting energy time towards your most important things? Number one, and then number two, you know, are you potentially obsessing about things that aren’t most important? Right? Are you thinking too much about some things that maybe don’t matter? Most and really You know, obviously we know there’s a real danger in focusing on negative obsessing about negative things. Because we get caught up in it. There’s also an energy to focusing too much on negative things. So yeah, are you

Brad Giles  20:09

really put another way? Are you not paying enough attention? Are you ignoring the big goals?

Kevin Lawrence  20:15

Yes, you’re ignoring, or you’re paying attention to? Are you fully giving the right amount of obsession that is needed to make them happen? And you know, and that’s whether its goals are at work or in life, you know, or you’re focused on, you know, obsessed with finding ways to have the best relationship can with your partner, or your children or your parents, if your parents are still around, you know, are you are you really spending the time thinking about and then acting upon thoughts to drive towards the things that matter most which goes back to, you know, even we talked about last Episode a bit, is really having clear goals, so you know, what matters most and then channeling enough time and energy and thought and activity to those things.

Brad Giles  20:59

So why the greatest leaders obsess over their goals. That’s kind of the podcast episode. It’s because if they don’t, people think that you just don’t care if they don’t. And this could be be hags, big, hairy, audacious goals. This could be any of the big things that you’re trying to big goals that you’re trying to achieve. If you don’t obsess over them. The people think that you just don’t care. And then they just kind of drift into the grayness of life. Good check, Kev. Well said, well said, good chat. All right. So hopefully, we’ve either answered that question or stimulated you to obsess over the big goals that you’ve already set, and to go back and obsess and obsess and to reiterate that with your team. So this has been the growth whispers podcast. My name is Brad Giles. The other chap with a cough that you’ve been hearing is Kevin Lawrence in Kelowna BC. I do believe it is in Canada. And you can find Kevin at the website, Lawrenceandco.com You can find me at evolutionpartners.com.au. We’ve both got newsletters and interesting stuff that we’re always talking about. Also, you can find us on YouTube. Don’t forget to like us there and to rate the podcast. We would certainly appreciate that. But we’ve enjoyed the show. Do have yourself a great week.