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Mastering the Basics

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Chances are, when you grew up, you found yourself following one of two paths to success:

  1.  If I can do it, then you can do it.
  2. You can do anything you want . . . if you work hard enough.

I have a real problem with the first path.  We should strive to do things others cannot.  We should want to challenge ourselves.  As Ryan Holiday would say, “the obstacle is the way.”  This mentality of “anyone can do it,” means either you aren’t special or the task at hand isn’t special.  It you aren’t challenged, you won’t progress.  Since we are trying to grow and progress by 1% every day, difficulty is a necessary element in our lives.

The second path, is better, but still not perfect.  This path usually starts with, “You can do anything you want.”  This creates an environment that raises children believing they can do anything they want, right here, right now.  However, it’s not that simple.  We have to understand that you can do anything if you try hard enough and put in the work.  Thus, the second part of the phrase, “if you work hard enough,” certainly helps to add something clarity and reality to this path.  However, it still leaves us asking questions.  Like, “What kind of work should I be doing?”

This is a question I struggled with personally for a long time.  Work to me simply meant being busy.  The busier I was, the more successful I was.  However, before that tower of busyness came tumbling down; and, before I got stuck at the top of the sky scraper miserably trying to hold on to prevent it form tumbling down, it finally dawned on me what hard work is . . . working on the basics.  No matter what your desired master craft is, you have to work on and master the basics.  When I was trying to climb the financial ladder to success in my legal practice, I wasn’t spending any time on the basics.  I wasn’t building a strong foundation.  I took the basics I learned in law school and shot from the hip hoping no one would notice my amateur nature.  When I opened the gym, I spent a long time on the basics.  I still come back to them today.

When we are talking about our lives, we need to master the basics of living a good life before we can/should add any more layers (like work or a family).  I believe there are four basics that need to be mastered in everyone’s life:

  1. Sleep:  You have to get sleep to recharge your battery.
  2. Diet:  You cannot outrun a bad diet and a good diet will impact almost everything you do.
  3. Workout:  getting your heart rate up, and challenging your muscles, at least three times a week will eliminate stress, improve your mood, and improve your chances of living a long time.
  4. First things first: Design your day so you are working toward your purpose early each day before everything else gets in the way

When you start to focus on the basics, things you can control, it’s amazing how your goals will start to accomplish themselves.