If you focus on fancy techniques but lack a solid foundation, before long, you will get found out.
Anyone who follows Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) will be familiar with a fighter called Tony Ferguson. The guy is a veteran who, with twelve consecutive victories, built up the longest winning streak in UFC Lightweight history — widely regarded as the toughest division in MMA.
He is known for his unique, unorthodox, and creative approach to fighting, along with a ridiculous toolbox of skills that make him dangerously unpredictable for his opponents.
But, fighting is a young man’s sport, and father time has started to catch up with Tony. In the last year, he has gone from being a dominant force who would set the pace of his fights to somebody who struggles to keep up with his opponents. Now, he looks far from the formidable foe he was even two years ago.
This slowing down has exposed a critical chink in his armour — he lacks some of the essential skills a fighter needs to succeed. It now seems like the unorthodox moves that made him such a unique talent and confounded his opponents were ways of covering up for his lack of fundamentals. And now the holes in his game have been exposed, his opponents are exploiting them. As a result, his win streak has been broken; he’s lost three fights on the bounce and appears unlikely to get his mojo back.
This lack of fundamentals thing is important. If you focus on fancy techniques but lack a solid foundation, before long, you will get found out.
I have worked in marketing for over a decade. When I started out, I didn’t know much about marketing strategy or its underlying principles. What I knew instead were the latest tactics. They were quicker to learn than the fundamental rules and seemed more exciting, so that’s what I focused on. I would implement them enthusiastically and switch them up every time I came across a new one.
It kind of worked, but I never really felt like I understood what I was doing on a deep level. I seemed to be chasing both the latest trends and my tail. My approach wasn’t joined up, I would use tactics that counteracted one another, and I had imposter syndrome.
Then I studied for a chartered qualification in marketing strategy. Suddenly, everything clicked. The scattergun tactics I had been using fell into place. I understood the principles they were based on and could selectively deploy them for specific intentions. My decision-making improved, my work became simpler, and the results quickly improved and spoke for themselves.
Tactics without an underlying strategy don’t mean much. Flashy moves without solid foundations fall apart eventually. When developing a skill, building a business, or advancing your career, focusing on the wrong things can be a dangerous trap that stalls progress or makes your project unravel. Whatever your domain, if you want to establish something robust, be it a business, a relationship, or a skillset, don’t get fancy. Just stick to the fundamentals and focus on nailing them. They will give you a solid bedrock on which to build. Then, like a well-rounded fighter, you will be hard to take down or beat.