Do you want to understand new ideas more quickly? Do you want to become an expert at new activities with less wasted time? Do you want to help your business succeed faster and with fewer false starts? Here are 7 critical ideas that you should make sure you understand if you want to become one of those “switched on” people who are not just good at what they do, but outstanding, and outstanding at a lot of different things. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail in this article, but you can expect to see more about these ideas in the near future at The Wellness Addict.
Discover the Thematic Core of your activity
The best activities in life have a thematic core. That is, a set of concepts, motions, or power sources that are found in most of the different parts of that activity. In the best heritage martial arts, certain movements are repeated in many different techniques so that balance and physical power are achieved in essentially the same way despite very different applications of force. In the best marketing plans, the core message can be found across various media, and that same core message closely corresponds with the mission statement of the business. Each great work of literature contains just a few thematic elements that hold together the plot and drive the action forward.
Discern the thematic core in what you do and you will put yourself in a position to achieve mastery much more quickly.
Stick to the Basics
It seems like every high level athlete, business owner, and martial arts expert I’ve talked to believes deeply in the idea that “There are no Advanced Techniques, Just Advanced Applications.” What this means is that focusing on the basics and doing them very, very well will almost always get you better results than will trying to find some mystical force or extremely complex system for doing what you do. In business, increase market share and control expenses. In golf, study the geometry of the swing. In skydiving, make sure you know where the ripcord is!
Start With Structure
When you’re confronted with a system that seems complex or overwhelming, start by looking at the structure. Very esoteric martial arts seem mystical and convoluted, but the truth is that the core movements are very efficient ways of maintaining balance while delivering physical power. Study foot placement, hip rotation, posture, the amount of knee bend. In music, a wild plethora of notes can be confusing, but pay attention to the chord progression (or intentional lack thereof) and you’ll immediately have a context for understanding where to go next.
As soon as you can after starting a new activity, get away from a passive mindset. Learn to own it. Don’t wait for your superiors or your teacher to tell you how things are done; figure it out for yourself. There are two really important reasons for this. One is that your soul delivers more energy to you when you are intensely involved in what you’re doing. The other is that in every worthwhile activity there are more nuances than a teacher could ever point out to you, and the only way to discover and master those nuances is to grapple with them yourself. If you want to become a master, start acting like one as soon as you can.
This is a corollary to the idea above about there being no advanced techniques, and it’s this: even the most complex concept or activity is composed of simple parts. Figure out the parts and do them well, and the whole thing will go well. Moreover, recognize right away that the greatest people in every field make things look simple – the reason is that they are doing just what it takes to succeed. Many of the beginners I work with in business and martial arts find ways to over-complicate things, so that they are not only doing a lot of things that don’t help them, but they are also not doing the things very well that will help them.
Don’t be misled
If you accept the idea that most worthwhile activities have a thematic core, then once you figure out what that core is, don’t let media hype, competition, or your own insecurities mislead you. Stick to making sure you can execute all the fundamentals.
Recently I heard a golf announcer say something along these lines: “Golf is really boring these days, everybody has the same swing.” When I heard that, I about fell on the floor laughing. It shows such a flawed understanding of the game that it’s hard to understand how that guy could have gotten hired to comment on the game. Here’s why: golf is a game that depends on geometry and physics. Every swing has to adhere to the same universal rules; when it departs from those rules, it will be less efficient. In an era where there are billions of dollars being generated in the sport, where technology can measure virtually every aspect of the swing, it would be an absurdity if the top golfers’ swings were getting less similar. Don’t be misled – if you really understand your activity, you’ll notice tremendous similarity between how the best players play the game.
Know What the Purpose Is
Finally, make sure you know the purpose of your fundamentals. If the best people in your line of work all use cash flow accounting, figure out why. Then, if you need to tweak what you do to make it better, you’ll know what you’re aiming for rather than having to simply guess. Why do so many good public speakers use the 3-part system (tell ‘em what you’re going to tell ‘em, tell ‘em, and tell ‘em what you told ‘em)? It’s because most human memory is imperfect, and being reminded of topics and themes in a speech help the audience organize and remember it. I can’t tell you the number of times folks who have attended my presentations have contacted me later to thank me for using the 3-part system. And guess what, not only do they remember the subject matter better, they also come away with a better opinion of the guy who gave the speech, which gets me referrals! (Pointing out another wonderful benefit of understanding the fundamentals – when you do the simple stuff well, you get a manifold return.)