Lars Ulrich moved to Orange County, California, when he was a teenager.  “At the time, he was obsessed with the new wave of British heavy metal, which included bands like Saxon, Iron Maiden, and Def Leppard,” write Dan Sullivan and Dr. Benjamin Hardy in Who Not How: The Formula to Achieve Bigger Goals Through Accelerating Teamwork.

1: Lars wasn’t like the other kids at his high school.  “There were 500 kids wearing pink Lacoste shirts while he was the one guy in a Saxon T-shirt,” write Dan and Ben.  Lars was “an outsider, doing his own thing.  People looked at him like he was from another planet.”

Ulrich felt isolated, so he took out a classified ad in the local paper, The Recycler.  His ad was simple: “Drummer looking for other musicians to jam with.”

James Hetfield responded to the ad.  James was so shy when they met he wouldn’t make eye contact with Lars.  But the teenagers shared the same passion for music.  “Together, they co-founded a band called Metallica, which went on to sell more than 100 million albums,” write Dan and Ben.

Why did this happen?  Because Lars knew precisely what he wanted: He wanted to play music with others who shared his love for heavy metal.  He put his desire out into the world, and his goal attracted the right “Who.”

To make an impact, we begin by clearly defining what we want.  Then, we must clearly communicate our goal to others.

2: When we are clear about our desired outcome, we benefit from the psychological concept of “selective attention,” note Dan and Ben.  “As humans, we have an incomprehensible amount of data coming into our brain through our senses.  However, our conscious mind filters the information and pays attention to the things that seem relevant or important.”

Think about the last time we bought a new car.  All of a sudden, we see our make and model everywhere.  That’s selective attention.  It’s the same reason we hear our name in a noisy room.

“Our eyes see and our ears hear what our brain is looking for,” says Dan Sullivan. 

When we become clear about our goal, we can communicate that desire out into the world.  “Like the one car [we] easily spot among the hundreds, [we] ‘ll be able to find the right Whos.  Indeed, the right Whos will find [us]”! the authors predict.

3: As part of his Strategic Coach program, Dan has created a tool to help us define our vision, what ultimate success looks like, and why our goal is important.  The tool is called the Impact Filter and it solves a recurring leadership problem.

“By clarifying the vision and its importance, Dan is able to give the relevant Whos the needed information to go and successfully execute,” the authors write.  “Far too often, the Who lacks critical clarity not only about the overall vision, but about their role in that vision.  Therefore, they can’t bring their available resources to the table.”

The Impact Filter outlines the following questions:

What is the project?

Purpose: What do you want to accomplish?

Importance: What’s the biggest difference this will make?

Ideal Outcome: What does the completed project look like?

Best Result: If you do take action?

Worst Result: If you don’t take action?

Success Criteria: What has to be true when this project is finished?

All too often, we don’t invest the time up front to clarify and then explain our goals.  We keep this information to ourselves and then we are frustrated when we aren’t successful.  The Impact Filter provides a simple framework to articulate the desired outcome and outline the critical skills necessary to succeed.

“If the Impact Filter if done well, meaning [we]’ve clearly explained what successful completion looks like, then it will be obvious to the right Who that they are the one for the job,” write Dan and Ben.

More tomorrow!


Reflection:  What is a goal I want to achieve?  What is a specific project I want to complete? 

Action:  Fill out the one-page Impact Filter to clarify my thinking. 

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