The biggest mistake you can make is to ignore the basics in your profession. This is true no matter what you do, where you live, or who you are.
When you ignore the foundation of what makes you a good person, athlete, friend, entrepreneur, student, etc., you will never be consistent.
That’s the biggest lessons I’ve learned from studying athletes. People who play professional sports are under constant pressure to perform.
Take Daniel Cormier, the current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, and former Olympic wrestler. The 38-year-old champion has an impressive career until now. He won multiple gold medals as a wrestler. And in MMA, he has won 20 of his 22 fights in total. He’s considered as one of the best.
On top of that, he’s also a combat sports analyst and co-host of UFC Tonight on Fox Sports. The man is highly active. What is his key to success, according to himself? Focusing on the basics. He says:
“You don’t get to the highest levels of the sport without having the basics in order.”
That’s not only true for sports; it’s also true for everything else in life. Writing, speaking, selling, leading, you name it. Without having the basics in order, you’ll never achieve your full potential.
Repeat the basics
And there’s only one way to improve the basics, by repetition. You get stronger by lifting weights, rep after rep. You build stamina by performing anaerobic exercise. We all know that.
But how about your mind? How do you become mentally stronger? And why does it even matter? The answer is simple: Everything starts with the mind.
Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art, said it best:
“Long-term, we must begin to build our internal strengths. It isn’t just skills like computer technology. It’s the old-fashioned basics of self-reliance, self-motivation, self-reinforcement, self-discipline, self-command.”
But my challenge was always: How do you do that? I know how to get physically stronger. But I never knew how I could get mentally stronger.
And whenever people told me “it’s all about life experience” I always thought there was a better way. Let’s be honest, who wants to wait until they are 70 to get mentally strong?
Some things can be done faster, especially if you keep repeating the basics. Because that’s when we screw up most of the time. We think we know everything.
Stay a beginner
How often do you think to yourself, “I already know that”?
If you’re like most of us, quite often. One thing we have to remind ourselves is that the people who think they know everything are the biggest losers in life.
I meet people all the time who think they know everything. And I don’t even mention people on the internet. A lot of commenters always want to show how smart they are and that this is “so obvious.”
Well, that’s not how the greatest people in the world approach things. Muhammad Ali once said that:
“It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.”
When you repeat the basics, you don’t only become great, you will stay great. It’s a challenge that all high performers face.
I repeat the basics of many things in my life: Fitness, philosophy, kindness, business, writing. For example, I re-read my favorite books on Stoicism every month to exercise my mind.
I regularly grab The Elements Of Style to repeat the basics of simple and effective writing.
If I don’t repeat these things, I simply forget about my philosophy for life or how to write good articles. That’s how our brain works. Without repetition, we forget things easily.
I always look at myself as a beginner. That’s one of the first (and most important) lessons I learned from my mentor. He’s now in his seventies and still considers himself as a student of life.
I have the same approach to business. I always go back to the question of, “what is the purpose of a business?” I can tell you that if you answer, “to make money,” you need to repeat the basics.
It’s very simple: Figure out what the basics are in your field. And repeat them. Keep it simple. There’s no bigger waste of time that repeating bad, wrong, or negative things.
That’s the only thing you should be mindful of. Don’t take advice from people who haven’t’ successfully done something themselves.
Be great. Stay great.
Look, you can be very smart, driven, humble, etc., but if you don’t stay that way — what’s it all worth?
How often do you see people become successful only to squander their success? How many one-hit wonders have you seen?
Exactly. Only the great ones are here to stay.
And if you want to stay here too, you must never underestimate the power of repetition. Never think you’ve made it or that you’re smart enough. Because that mindset is what keeps you great.