The Joys Of Blocking and Tackling (and Running To Daylight)

The basics.

The fundamentals.

The dirty work.

Making the sausage.

Doing the job.  Answering the phone. Delivering on time. Generating the invoices. Paying the bills. Making payroll. Collecting receivables.  Fixing what’s broke. Not fixing what isn’t broke.

Blocking and Tackling.

A football phrase that makes me think of Vince Lombardi.  I was born in Wisconsin, and my first real sports memories were of the Green Bay Packers, and their championship years in the 60s with Lombardi as the head coach.

The thing about Lombardi was his relentless emphasis on the fundamentals – that blocking and tackling.

He called it “run to daylight“.  Block people out of the way, and then run through that gap.  Simple.  Nothing fancy.

Over, and over, and over again.

His teams were very good at the basics – so good, it got to the point where everybody just KNEW what play they were going to run, and defenses still couldn’t stop it.

Run to daylight.

Successful businesses need to think the same way.  Despite all the other bells and whistles out there that may look more attractive, or more flashy.

I know, collecting bills won’t get you on the cover of Business Week.   Answering the phone within 30 seconds won’t get you a speaking slot at SXSW.  But blocking and tackling is oh so necessary.

Run to daylight.   Do the basics very, very well.  Like clockwork.  Practice, practice, practice. Sweat. Toil.  Burn midnight oil.

THEN, and only then, try something fancy. Like a digital marketing program,  some electronic wizardry, or the latest thingamajig.

As I’ve often said – get the “analog” right BEFORE you do the digital.

Because if you can get the blocking and tackling part, and really get it down cold, you’ll find that ultimately, there’s a great joy in it.

It gives you freedom to dream of even bigger things, and chances are, you’re scoring touchdowns even though your competitors KNEW exactly what plays you were running.

And boy does that feel good.

(thanks to Howard Mann for giving me the inspiration with his “Reaching the Top 3% of Your Industry” post, and great conversation)



  1. says

    So true! There is a reason why some activities have become an inherent part of business. There are some basics that are just unavoidable. Its only when you get these things down pat that you can move on to the more complex aspects. Put in a simple analogy (and I’m going to use a cooking analogy because I enjoy cooking), learn to boil an egg before you move on to making Eggs Benedict.

    – Sindoora (

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