In life, the focus tends to be on the big wins, the highlights and the groundbreaking triumphs. Little attention is paid to the hard slog, the grunt work, or the 10,000 hours behind that success.
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The Highlight Reel
For example, in the NBA, every highlight reel is full of slam dunks. And rightly so as these can be spectacular and are impressive feats of athleticism. Most fans enjoy seeing them. However, a quick study of game stats from the 2014-2015 season shows that, on average, each team only hits four dunks a game. That’s 8 points out of an average 100 points scored. The majority of points are scored from 2-point field goals, free throws and 3 point baskets.
Slam dunks do not equal success in the NBA. Success comes from hard work on the court and doing the basics well.
Going Beyond The Glory For Unlimited World Success
For a business example, Toyota, for all the hype around SUVs like Landcruisers and hybrid Priuses, sells lots of unglamorous, boring cars. This is their bread and butter. In June 2015, Hilux, Corolla and Camry accounted for more than 50% of Toyota sales in Australia.
These are probably the staidest and most boring cars going around, yet they form the backbone of Toyota’s sales dominance.
We’re often guided by the Pareto Principle – 20% of inputs deliver 80% of outputs. And this is how it should be – because in may respects it’s correct. Wasted time and too much effort often go towards things that don’t matter much, or that deliver little value.
The problem for those trying to emulate the success of others is they are often blinded by the success myth. Famous entrepreneur X was working for someone else, hit upon a great idea, and now he’s a multi-millionaire. This fun fairy tale is great for filling seats at a conference and selling books, but it doesn’t help the people who are currently grinding away at the bottom of the ladder.
As a small business, a salesperson, an entrepreneur, etc., is the success going to come from a moon shot or a lucky break or is success going to come from doing the basics well?
Where’s the Money?
Almost everything published about Google (or Alphabet) is about Google X, Google cars, Google drones, Android, Chrome and healthcare. The fact is that in 2014 advertising accounted for 89.5 percent of the online company’s total revenues. Considering some divisions lose money, advertising contributes more than 90% of Google’s profits.
The glamour work is great, but it’s the non-glamorous grinding that allows for the flashy, PR-friendly, playtime work. Would Google be able to do all the exciting things without a steady stream of billions of dollars of advertising income?
When designing jobs, businesses and workflows, 80% of your effort has to go towards getting the fundamentals right. A successful endeavor does not come from hitting random moonshots. Focus is critical. This is the whole mantra of Fridge Magazine.
Ideas Are A Commodity, Process Is Priceless
Henry Reith – Fridge Magazine Editor
Focus is one of the biggest challenges my coaching clients face. They are energetic, inspired, brilliant people with just too many options. The question they are often asking is “what should I be working on?”
The difficulty they face is that the work that may bring the best long-term, sustainable results isn’t necessarily the brightest and shiniest. This is where they have to be prepared to play the long game. Whilst launching a new app or upgrading the UX might be fun and instantly rewarding, perhaps deepening the SEO quality of the site, or just selling more widgets through the old portal will generate the extra returns to justify front end improvements.
As you gather your priorities for the day, ask yourself, what will give me the biggest bang for my buck? Work towards success, dig deep and do the unglamorous. There’s always time for the moonshots once you’re well grounded.