When I was training in the decathlon with coach Dan Pfaff, he would frequently say, “We’re just mastering the basics.” The Mastery of any skill or activity isn’t about a new technology or innovation but the consistent application of the most basic fundamentals to the point that they become so practiced that it’s more like a reflex than effort.
I’ve taken this concept with me through college and into my life because I think it’s a fundamental principle that applies everywhere.
I’ve been lucky enough to work with many great people in my life some of which were professional athletes at the highest level. A great story that illustrates with concept well is of an NFL quarterback practicing his footwork during throwing. His training wasn’t any fancy or technically complicated combinations of movements.
What he was practicing repeatedly was making sure his ankle bone (medial malleolus) on his back foot was pointed in the direction he was throwing. Not most of the time, but every time, without exception. I’m telling the story because it perfectly illustrates how simple and uncomplicated mastery is yet to do that one movement every time without exception is tedious and takes a lot of practice.
So the next time you find yourself practicing the most mundane skill or exercise, I hope you come to terms with the fact that after a few more thousand repetitions you have started your journey to mastery.
To me, that’s super inspiring because this reality reveals a clear path to success. A critical step toward success is to be crystal clear regarding what and how to practice. In sports, it’s often easy to know what to practice. The how to practice requires a coach.
Personally, I’ve had the most difficulty learning what to practice in business. Come to find out one of the paths to success in business is systems development. The obstacle is the way. Thank you, Ryan Holliday!