Grunt and Grind: Retail is a sprint race

Life is a 100m dash after all

Dear Dennis: I seem to do be working my butt off but all to no avail. I just don’t seem to be getting the promotion or rewards that my efforts seem to justify. I have a small business and it seems my growth has plateaued and I just can’t seem to kickstart it.


Dear Grumpy,

Forrest Gump was wrong: life is not like a box of chocolates. Life is like a 100 sprint. Let me explain.

If you are a professional sprinter, your success comes down to two distinct and separate aspects. Firstly, when you sprint, you gotta win the race. It lasts about 10 seconds, and one minor stumble can cost you dearly. Just getting off to an average start could easily see you finish last. Or worse, third.

This may seem unfair. Especially if you are training to qualify for the Olympics and one bad race sets you back four years. But that is how it is.

The other facet of success is the work that you do in between the dashes; your training, your discipline, your diet. Not going to the parties. You know - the grind. The grind that gets you to the race.

If you don’t do this part well, you will lose the race. But doing this part well doesn’t guarantee that you win the race. If you want success, you still have to win the race – and your opportunities are few and far between. You get judged on your performance in that sprint. And you get rewarded for your performance. Everything is based on the outcome. The moment of truth, so to speak. I call this the ‘grunt’ – when it is about putting everything on the line.

So, success comes down to the grind and the grunt. And you need to excel at both if you want to taste success. The whingers will bemoan their lack of opportunity. They moan about the fickleness of the judges who make split-second decisions and how they keep such little mistakes against you. But life is like that.

And sometimes you get the flashy performer who arrives at the race; all mouth and shiny tracksuit. They talk the talk. But when the gun goes, their lack of grind shows through. They might win a few easier races early in their career when the competition is light, but they don’t go the distance.

There are two possibilities to explain your lack of success:

Option 1: The business is weak because; at the grunt (‘the moment of truth’) it just doesn’t perform.

This is every touchpoint with the customer. Your hygiene factors, the quality of the service, fairness of the price, convenience and value for money.

Option 2: You lack success because you are not prepared to suffer through the grind.

How well you are managing your risk. Are you planning your strategy? Are you constantly looking out for innovative ideas? You are managing your cash flow.

So the question is this, if you were honest with yourself, is your lack of success because you don’t grunt when it counts, or because you don’t grind through it? Any examples of grunt and grind in your business?

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