If you’ve ever tried to master anything, you’ve learned the importance of “the basics”. And there are a few things about the basics that it’s important to remember, re-learn, or learn the first time if you never discovered them.
I’m going to share it a little anecdote here. It concerns a monk who went to study martial arts. There are many variations of this, but I’ll simplify it.
For many months, the monk’s teacher told him to stand at a large bowl of water and slap the surface to see if he could keep it level. Invariably there would be waves in the water. Some were created by the slaps he made, others by wind, and so on. He found this boring but he kept at it. Then when he was allowed to make his way home to see his family, he was attacked by thieves. Instinctively he defended himself with expertly-delivered slaps, perfectly placed where they could do the most damage, and made good his escape.
Learning the basics of any pursuit is an experience colored by our perception of how difficult the activity is, what we want to learn it for, what we think we’ll gain by learning it and so on. But invariably, everything you do is built upon a relatively few number of fundamental concepts.
Leonardo da Vinci, one of the most imaginative and prolific minds the world has ever known, once remarked that, “Simplicity is the highest form of sophistication”, and it’s as true today as it was then. One of the reasons for this is that it’s sometimes difficult to push our own egos out of the way for long enough to forget about dazzling our audience with our technical skills, and just deliver what they need.
When it comes to your success, the same rules apply. That’s one of the reasons why I wrote The Right Question. Out of the countless thousands of self help and success books out there, all the great ideas they contain really only come down to a very basic concept when you’re discussing your results. The rest of it is nice to know, but they aren’t basics. They aren’t what you need to know.
One of the reasons is because “the basics” change depending on who’s teaching them and what their expectations are of the student. To one group of students learning music, the basics will consist of memorizing the notes on the staff, and not much else. To others, the basics will consist of being able to not only name those notes but sing them when they see them. In this regard, there’s no such thing as a basic in the sense that absolutely everything can be reduced to something even simpler. You have to draw the line somewhere.
The Right Question was written with this concept in mind. Ultimately the result you want in life is success in whatever form it means to you. And regardless of your thoughts on setting goals, the Law of Attraction, motivation or anything else, what you achieve is the result of what you do.
That’s why I suggest you spend time thinking about your own basics, and make sure that they’re comprehensive enough to keep your skillset sharp. Don’t bore yourself. And don’t choose things that are easy for you already. You want to progress in life, in whatever sense of that word means the most to you. Ask yourself what the basics are in terms of your family life, for example. Is it better quality time, making the most of what you’ve got with the people you love? Or perhaps you think that your communication could be better, letting those you love know how you feel. And when it comes to your money, the basic things that make you a success at your job or business could always benefit from being emphasized.
We all make our own basics. Make a list of what’s helped you become good at what you do, or what you haven’t mastered yet that will help in the future. And make that basic skillset fundamental but comprehensive. Like a broad, flat rock – basic, but broad and strong enough to support whatever you choose to pile on top of it. Those are your skills, your ideas, your commitments, and your life.