The biggest blunder you can make in your career is to ignore the fundamentals. This holds true regardless of your profession, location, or identity. We tend to forget that repetition is the key to building strength.
Consistency is impossible if you neglect the fundamentals of what makes you a good person (athletes, friends, entrepreneurs, students, etc.). Observing athletes has taught me one of the most important things I’ve learned. There is a lot of pressure on professional athletes to perform.
Take, for example, current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier, a former Olympian in the sport of wrestling. Until this point in his career, the 38-year-old champion has had an impressive one. As a wrestler, he took home numerous medals of honour. He has also won 20 of his 22 MMA fights. Those who know him say he’s among the best.
Then there’s UFC Tonight with him as co-host on Fox Sports, where he serves as a combat sports analyst. The man is a whirlwind of energy. What, in his opinion, is the secret to his success? Remaining true to the fundamentals. He retorts:
“You can’t make it to the top of the sport if you don’t have the fundamentals in place.”
This holds true not just in sports, but in all aspects of life. Everything from writing to speaking to selling to leasing. Your full potential will never be realised if you don’t have the fundamentals in place.
Get back to the fundamentals
Repetition is the only way to get better at the fundamentals. The more you lift weights, the more powerful you become. Anaerobic exercises increase your stamina and endurance. As we all know. However, what about your mental state? What are the best ways to strengthen your mind? And what’s the point? Simply put, everything begins with your thoughts.
Steven Press field, author of The War on Art: “It’s like a battle between the mind and the body. Internal strength is essential for long-term success. It’s not just the ability to use a computer. Self-reliance, self-motivation, self-reinforcement, self-discipline, and self-command are the old-fashioned basics.”
However, I was always stumped by the question: How do you do that? Strength training is something I am proficient at. But I had no idea how to improve my mental toughness. Then there were the times when people would say things like, “It’s all about life experience.” Let’s face it: Who wants to be mentally strong at the age of 70? If you keep going back to the basics, you can get things done more quickly. Why? Because that’s when most of us get it wrong! We think we know it all.
Remain a Newbie
It’s not uncommon for people to think, “I already know that.” It happens a lot if you’re like the majority of us. The people who believe they know it all are the ones who end up failing the most in life, as we must constantly remind ourselves. Every day, I come across people who think they know it all. And don’t get me started on the people I’ve met online. Commenters love to demonstrate their superior intellect by stating that something is “so obvious.”
That’s not the way the world’s greatest people approach things, is it? Muhammad Ali once remarked, “Belief develops as a result of repeated affirmations. Things begin to happen when a person’s belief solidifies into a firm conviction”.
The more you practise the fundamentals, the better you will become and the better you will remain. It’s a problem that all high achievers have to deal with. Fitness, philosophy, kindness, business, and writing are just a few of the areas in my life where I go back to the basics. Re-reading my favourite books on Stoicism once a month helps me keep my mind sharp. For example, The Elements of Style is my go-to resource for rehearsing the fundamentals of clear and effective writing. My philosophy for life and how to write good articles are lost if I don’t repeat these things. That’s the way the human brain works! We easily forget things if we don’t practise them. In my mind, I am always a beginner. It’s one of the first things my mentor taught me, and it’s one of the most important. Even though he’s well into his seventies, he still sees himself as a lifelong learner.
In business, too, I operate in a similar manner. The question of “what is the purpose of a business?” is one that I return to time and time again. If your answer is “to make money,” I can tell you that you need to go over the basics again. It’s as simple as determining the fundamentals of your field. Then do it all over again. Simple is best. Repetition of bad or negative things is a waste of time that cannot be overstated. That’s all you need to keep in mind. Advice from people who haven’t actually achieved their goals should be avoided.
Be the best you can be. The best is yet to come.
What’s the point of being smart, driven, humble, and so on if you don’t keep it up? How many times have you seen someone achieve success only to waste it? Count the number of one-hit wonders you’ve witnessed. Exactly. Only the best will be around for the long haul.
In order to remain in this place, you must never underestimate the power of repetition. If you think you’ve done well or are intelligent enough, don’t believe it. Because that’s what keeps you at the top of your game.