Building Blocks

To master anything you must first master the fundamentals. The fundamentals, those pesky building blocks that stand between the novice and the master, can be found in any activity you might consider. They are the scales and the chords on the piano, the coordination of the ailerons, rudder and elevator in the airplane, and prospecting, presentations and closing in the sales process.

Building a company is no different. The basic infrastructure must be in place and tested before much growth is piled on top of it. A faulty foundation will eventually crack under the pressure if it is not properly set. I manage this oscillation constantly in my companies, the pendulum-like swing between infrastructural growth and sales growth. Too many sales and insufficient infrastructure is just as dangerous as an over-built infrastructure and too few sales. Striking a balance between infrastructure development and revenue generation ought to be a central concern to any business owner.

Beyond knowing it for yourself, communicating which phase you’re in to the entire organization is extremely important. Knowing whether the dominant concern is consolidation or expansion makes decision-making easier. It brings people together. It prevents many of the cross-currents which undermine the effectiveness of a department or an organization from forming. It allows everyone to pull in the same direction.

Refinement is the simple process of getting better at the fundamentals. A master is a master because of his ability to string together a series of perfectly executed fundamentals. In this sense you are never “above” the fundamentals.


15 thoughts on “Building Blocks

  1. Zach

    With modern technology, access to the basics have become much easier. You don’t necessarily have to go to university to learn, you don’t have to apprentice so much anymore, etc. Yet because the basics are so available there is a tendency to think that’s it; that once you’ve learned the basics you’ve achieved mastery. When things are spoon fed, the work ethic is not there to ever learn mastery. This was tempered in the past by instructors, and the YouTube instructional video doesn’t quite get us all the way there.

    As we mature, and as the generation that has grown up fully in the information age matures, hopefully we will be able to find some balance in this issue.


  2. Steve Ventola

    Your words make me think what it takes to be a master in my work as a chiropractor. There is a fundamental principle in chiropractic I love to meditate on and apply in my practice. That principle is above down inside out. It relates to acknowledging that there is a constant animating life giving influence that comes from above to be received by our conscious minds as well as allowed to work unhindered through our subconscious realms out into the expression of our lives. In simplistic terms when I am with a patient I look to the life essence of that individual welcoming that in knowing that opens the way for a healing process to begin. There is much more I can share relative to the matter for now my thoughts are directed to acknowledge your emphasis on fundamentals in how they apply to my living. Your post urges me to discover more.


    1. Gregg Hake

      That’s a great principle, Steve, and one that applies to the performance of just about every human activity. I think about it often as well, though in relation to other activities, like writing, public speaking, leadership and fatherhood.


  3. Joshua

    Behind your words is the essence of Simplicity.
    Coming to rest in the absolutely trustworthy principles that are back of any outer function is not only a relief, but frees us to perform Mastery, simply.

    It’s not so much the form that matters….it’s the spirit behind the form, act, or anything really.
    Thanks Gregg!


  4. Vincent

    Even though the same fundamentals or principles are at the base of any given creation, nevertheless there is always freshness, variety and innovation in the actual generation of the forms of the moment. Looking at the incredible variety in the animal and plant kingdoms emphasizes that point. The same principles are involved, but the forms vary tremendously. For us, developing skill in any field usually involves an awkward phase when the fundamental principles are being internalized, but once that has occurred, the variety and freshness of innovative thinking and action take over, and there’s never a repititious moment!


  5. Vincent

    No matter how far along we may move in a given field, there are always fundamental realities to consider and internalize. While initially there tends to be awkwardness with mastering those fundamentals, ultimately there is both ease and spontenaiety, because life is not a plodding, repititious grind. Even though the same principles are always involved in a given endeavor, they are always executed in a new and refreshing way – look at the amazing variation on the same principles in the world of animals and plants, for instance – endless!


  6. Chuck Reddick

    Once I discovered the fundamentals to success in sales than I was not only able to carve out a terrific career for myself but more importantly I was and have been able to assist others to do the same, and in many cases to exceed what I have ever done. And it all comes back to both understanding and applying the fundamentals always! Note the emphasis on always for just understanding them and not applying them always is like being sort of trustworthy or sort of doing a job.

    Interestingly enough the fundamentals pretty much apply to all jobs, careers, and industries. Perhaps the specific function might change (prospecting in sales for example is actually the work ethic) a little bit but the overall fundamentals don’t. And we should be grateful for that for they are totally trustworthy. And the sooner that we learn to honor them instead of manipulate them the sooner we become more in what we are doing.

    When refinement is realized is when we can become a master at what we are doing, and more importantly be of genuine value to those who we serve. Another way of looking at this is that reaching refinement is truly making a difference in the world!


  7. MMc

    So true. When you read about athletes that have fallen behind in their performance usually the first thing they do is hire a coach to work with them on the fundamentals. I use that approach for myself when I feel like I’m out of sync, I check my basics. The first being; “Does what I’m feeling or thinking right now reflect my highest self?” Understanding and defining the foundation that grounds me has been a tremendous help to me. It makes handling the more daunting situations easier and often they become some of my most satisfying endeavors, perhaps they’re more solid from the start. Good post, thanks!


    1. Steve Ventola

      Thanks for your self reflective question,”Does what I’m feeling or thinking right now reflect my highest self?” Very useful.


  8. Isabelle

    Absolutely. So often, we expect to become instant masters or experts without embracing the steps that lead to refinement (which usually results in frustration and ultimately quitting). Refinement creates a depth of experience an confidence that can’t be conjured by intent. I’ve found that the steps to a goal can often be much more fulfilling than achieving the actual goal, as once you reach the goal, there’s always the next phase or step that starts to reveal itself, which is exciting as well.


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