Life lesson #5: Focus on the Fundamentals

The way to win a sports game is not to look at the scoreboard all the time, but rather to do the fundamentals of the sport better than your opposition. In rugby or soccer terms, it means dominating possession of the ball, defending well and attacking with precision. In MiWay terms, it means effectively and accurately controlling the value chain. A team who takes their eyes off the ball and constantly look at the scoreboard, will lose. Therefore: focus on the fundamentals, the scoreboard will look after itself. This means if you get the fundamentals right, you will get the desired result. 

It is human to be fixated on results - in our careers, in our daily targets, and in our relationships.

As a company, our vision to build a world-class business set the result we aim for. It is important to know what result you desire, what outcome you aim for, but it is futile to spend your energy fixated on the result instead of on doing the basics well. In MiWay’s case, our results come from executing our mission well, not from staring at and dreaming of our vision.

Results come from doing the right things, and doing it well, consistently. 

This implies a deep understanding of the fundamentals of your game or business. In golfing terms, it implies not only a deep understanding of the fundamentals of the golf swing, but more importantly, the accurate and consistent execution thereof. It also implies focusing on what you can control or influence instead of what you have no control over. 

Focus on the fundamentals have two elements: knowing and doing. The knowing part requires a deep understanding of your field of expertise. It also means you remain a perpetual student. A student for life. The doing part requires a single-minded focus on executing well. If you do this consistently, it will become a habit and you will attain excellence. Remember the misappropriated Aristotle quote - “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit”?

I learnt this lesson early on in my career when I was a prosecutor. If you want a conviction, you need to prove the elements of the crime. If you don’t, the criminal will walk free. I have a deep-seated aversion to crime and I was truly committed to putting criminals behind bars. However, I only started to get results when I understood and executed the fundamentals of prosecution well. Desiring a conviction was not enough. Proving the elements of the crime was what was required. When that penny dropped, my career went from strength to strength. I took this lesson with me when I entered the business world. Looking back on a 40-year career, it has served me well. 

It is good to know what result you aim for, but it is better to execute the fundamentals well. The results will look after itself. 

Have a fantastic day. Focus on the fundamentals. The results will follow. 

Stay blessed,
René Otto, CEO: MiWay Insurance Ltd

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