Fresh Fish for Sale – The Slow Erosion of the Fundamentals

Here is a story that captures the reason people don’t achieve their goals and objectives. A gentleman owns a fish market on the waterfront. It is a simple fish market which is reflected by the sign that hangs over the market. The sign reads, “Fresh Fish for Sale.” Over time, some of the patrons approach the owner of the market.

“You know,” the patrons say to him, “we can tell that your market sells fresh fish. You’re right on the waterfront and you go out every morning for the daily catch. You really don’t need to have the word ‘fresh’ on your sign.”

The market owner considers this and decides that his patrons are right. So he removes the word “fresh” from the sign. Now, the sign just reads “Fish for Sale.” Time passes, and the same group of patrons approach the owner again.

“We know that your business is for profit,” they explain. “We know you sell fish for profit. Do you really think you need the words ‘for sale’ on your sign?”

Again, the owner considers their insight and decides to remove the words “for sale” from his sign. Now the sign just says “Fish.” More time passes, and the same group of patrons approaches the owner once again.

“Listen,” they say, “It’s obvious that you sell fish. We smell the aroma as we walk down the pier every day and we can see the fish as we approach your market, so we really don’t think you need to advertise that you have fish.” The owner ponders this and he decides to remove the word “Fish” and therefore he removes his sign altogether.

A year later, the market goes out of business.

The moral of the story is that people don’t hit their goals because of the slow erosion of the fundamentals. This erosion does not happen overnight. It happens slowly over time. All of a sudden, a business owner realizes that he is ignoring the foundation of his business. He has neglected the most important aspects of his business, and over time, they have become rusty. So the point is that we all have to pay attention to the little things.

If a golfer breaks down the mechanics of her swing and examines how all of the little mechanics tied together create the fluid motion of her swing, she will hit the ball far down the middle of the fairway. Her attention to the details of her swing allows her full swing to be executed beautifully.

In a football game, there are many small parts that come together to make the game what it is. Two teams, over 100 players, and many individual plays. Each player has a role to play on each snap. If 1 player breaks down, it can cause the entire play to break down, which can be detrimental to that team.

If a businesswoman wants to have a fantastic quarter or a fantastic year, she has to design certain tactics to build her strategies to be successful with her clients. She has to spend a lot of time building these strategies in order for them to work. She has to make them perfect, or as close to perfection as she can get them.

In all of these scenarios, the little things need to come together to make a successful big picture. You have to be observant and pay close attention to details at all times. If you miss a detail here and there, those ignored details will start to add up. Over time, those ignored details will cause a slow erosion of the fundamentals, which will ultimately lead to failure. It all boils down to paying constant attention to details and fundamentals, and when you focus on the fundamentals; you must be brilliant on the basics. If you look at the most successful people in the world, you will quickly determine that what they do is not drastically different from others, but they are a little bit better at it. They are better with the basics and so they never allow that slow erosion of the fundamentals to happen. Successful people always stay grounded and emphasize the fundamentals.