Fundamentals: the building blocks.

If someone asked you to identify the five to seven most-important recurring actions, or key behaviors, critical to your success in work and life, would you know what they are? They may be more obvious than you think.

The inspiration for what is today IRUNURUN didn’t come from a high-brow strategy session. There were no complex decision matrices, economic models, or regression analyses. Instead, there was simply a man named Mark Newton struggling to grow a fledgling business.

Stuck and frustrated, Mark prayed for guidance and received an answer: First, take the three binders on his desk which he had thoughtfully labored over and push them into the trash (they were his short, medium, and long term business plans). Next, take out a piece of paper and write down six things he could do that week to grow his business.

He wrote:

  • start at 8am
  • call a certain number of new prospects
  • meet with a certain number of new prospects
  • follow-up with existing relationships
  • clear his to-do list
  • learn something

The actions themselves weren’t the epiphany. These were the things he knew he should be doing.

The epiphany came six weeks later. After scoring himself each week out of a possible 100 points for doing all six items, Mark realized that his average score was below 50. He was busy, but not consistently doing the fundamentals that mattered to growing his business. He renewed his conviction and after scoring 90+ for six straight months, his business took off.

Fast forward to 2010. After using his method for 7 years and developing it into a web app, Mark shared it with a few hundred people in a test group. A few months later, he made two key observations. First, most people got the importance of IRUNURUN.  (It seems we are all fighting “overwhelm” to some extent these days.)  Second, a lot of people weren’t really sure what their five to seven key actions should be.

In search of answers, we began talking with executive coaches, life coaches, consultants, and trainers. We engaged successful leaders, read best-selling leadership and performance psychology books, and interviewed elite athletes and military personnel. And what did we discover? With few exceptions, we found fundamentals, prioritized above all else, and practiced to mastery.

For sales people, it’s been high levels of business development activity…making sales calls, asking for referrals, keeping in touch with people…relentlessly. For leaders, it’s been relationship-building, consistent communication, and growing people. For everyone, it’s been a mix of fitness, family, faith, and fun.

Sure, people want silver bullets. They want to know that their success has been limited by their insights and opportunities. But, it seems that the truth is that they hold more cards than they think. Their success is more a function of discipline, of prioritizing fundamentals.

Could it be that easy? Consider this. When was the last time you did your best when you were sleep deprived, out of shape, hungry, at war with your spouse, doing work you don’t believe in, working with people you don’t know or trust, serving the same small group of customers you’ve been neglecting for some time?

What are your fundamentals?