Recently I had a conversation with an engineer who owned a small business; our conversation was about having a road entrance widened to bring it up to code. Having an entrance up to code meant I could get a civic address, and then I could get building permits... I then could "build stuff" if I wanted to. All part of the process of creating something from nothing it seems, and a nice reminder you always have to start at the very beginning.
As we settled on final quotes and timeframes I happened to ask him how business was going; he went on to say it was going well, he continued to get more and more jobs, and he really didn't want to get big. As I listened to him my thought process went something like this... "Great, GREAT... WHAT?".
Wait a second, doesn't everyone want to start a business, grow it to be big and influential, make a bunch of money, and spend the rest of your life on easy street? It didn't seem to be the case for this particular business owner.
Days later I found myself reflecting on what he said and why he would say such a thing — Was it a result of not wanting the "headaches" that can come with a larger more complicated business? Maybe he was a great engineer but not really a good businessperson and didn't have the skills to run a bigger business? Maybe he wanted a good work-life balance and getting bigger would disrupt that balance? Maybe he loved what he was currently doing, and he knew a bigger company would take him away from what he loved to do?
Although I will probably never know the reason, I couldn't stop wondering about it; what's even more curious was it really wasn't any of my business. All that really mattered, and the only real concern for me, was that my new entrance would be "up to code". In the end there are reasons why he said what he said, and if it really mattered to my new entrance I would have asked what they were so I could better understand — Why he didn't want to get bigger really didn't matter to me and I didn't need to understand.
As I thought about this I was reminded that your objective determines your need to understand.
In this particular case, my objective was to secure someone who could widen my entrance up to code, and I needed to understand if he could do it... my objective was not to help him expand his business, so it really didn't matter if I understood why he said what he said. This became a nice reminder that objectives govern everything you do, and if you are doing something not in-line with your objective, you need to ask yourself why you are doing what you're doing — It definitely was worth spending the time thinking about it.
I am quite confident my new entrance will be up to code when he's finished. And that is all that matters.