In life, our victories and setbacks are a direct result of how fundamentally strong we are in our chosen field of endeavor. Every person has the ability to develop strong "fundamentals" if they are willing to do the hard and worthwhile work it requires.
Think of basketball for a moment. Every player, from high school to the NBA, knows that they will likely be required to shoot a unguarded 15-foot, 1-point shot awarded after a foul. Yet, despite the fact that every player knows they have to shoot free throws, team after team loses the big game because of a lack of fundamentals. Remember Memphis in 2008?
Memphis coasted through the 2007-08 season with an impressive 38-2 record despite the fact that they only made 61% of their free throws. However, when the National Championship was on the line, poor fundamentals came back to bite Memphis when they missed 4-of-5 free throws in the final two minutes. The value of strong fundamentals in sports is the exact same in business. How strong are your fundamentals?
1. The Fundamentals List
The first key is to make an honest list of all the key areas in your business where being fundamentally strong is paramount to success. Start by writing out a list that defines each fundamental and ask yourself, "is this area one of my strengths or weaknesses?" Self-awareness is critical to being successful because it allows you to focus on your strengths and fill in your gaps. Write out your current level of competency for each fundamental to establish a baseline that you can start improving upon.
2. Question Up The Fundamentals
Over the last 30 years, I have taught 1000's of companies across the world the value of questioning their fundamentals. Here is the truth. We are always one great question away from real and lasting incremental change in an all areas of our life. What actions can you take today to incrementally improve each of your listed fundamentals? What things do you need to give up to become more fundamentally sound? Write out the answers in a journal as they apply to each listed fundamental. Review your answers weekly to keep them present in your daily thoughts.
3. The "I Will" Strategy
Now that you have identified your fundamentals, and asked the correct questions to prioritize your next steps for improvement, it is time to take action. We must turn our "I should" thoughts into our "I will" actions. The majority of people run around the world saying "I should, I should, I should, until they should all over themselves in life." We must destroy this excuse mentality by taking massive action now to develop our fundamentals. By applying an action application, versus a theory mentality, you will start to see real results.
Each "I will" statement must force an action.
If I want to improve at sales my action plan may set out that:
1) I will practice my sales approach 20 minutes a day
2) I will work on my product knowledge 10 minutes a day
3) I will read industry related articles 10 minutes a day. It's important to crush your "I should" wishes with meaningful actions to become fundamentally strong. It's what you actually do that matters most in life.
4. Mirror versus Window
The final step to improve your fundamentals is to hold yourself 100% accountable for your personal development. Stop looking out the window and waiting for someone else to hold you accountable. No one is more responsible for your level of competency than you. When you need to find the responsible party grab a mirror. Success requires self-discipline and consistency and ultimately that falls on your shoulders. Remember this, self-discipline is the Master Key to all the riches in life. Remember those competency scores you took earlier? Use that baseline to set goals for improvement and to track your progress along the way.
If you embrace these four strategies you will master the art of fundamental skills enhancement. Remember, no one can stop you but you. You will beat 90% of the competition 100% of the time just by being world class at the fundamentals.
Make a difference today.