Going Back to the Basics…
I (Phil Svitek) will take you back to the basics. The basics of what, you might be thinking? It’s not the basics of any subject but rather the importance of allowing yourself to reset to a starting position. In every discipline there is a starting position. The thing or things you should learn first. In learning these, you can then advance to the next, more difficult part of that discipline. It’s like climbing stairs. You take one by one from the bottom until you get to the top. A lot of this is so plain and simple and yet every day people try to skip sections or whole parts entirely. They are too impatient. Learning the fundamentals seems boring and wasteful of their time. They want to be masters right away. Nothing in life works this way. Trust me. It may for a short time, more than likely attributed to dumb luck, but in time you’ll be exposed a fraud. In this lesson, I’ll highlight three things. First, how do we define the basics, secondly what does resetting to a starting position mean and three, why is it important for you to do so. To reinforce the lesson, I use quotes from Kobe Bryant, Jim Rohn, Gandhi, Vince Lombardi and others. Comment below with any questions or comments you have.
Industry Week Article: https://www.industryweek.com/strategic-planning-execution/importance-fundamentals
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We’re going back to the basics. The basics of what, you might be thinking? It’s not the basics of any subject but rather the importance of allowing yourself to reset to a starting position – a system reboot if you will.
Three things. First, how do we define the basics, secondly what does resetting to a starting position mean and three, why is it important for you to do so. Let’s tackle the first part.
Going back to the basics quite literally means just that. The basics. Ground zero. The fundamentals of whatever discipline your part-taking in. Take a sport like soccer or football as it is more often referred to worldwide.
The basics of soccer are: crisp and accurate passing, simple dribbling and not being too fancy with any moves, not forcing the ball if there’s defenders in the way, one to three touches max. For those not versed in the game, this implies moving the ball from one player to the next – the opposite of ball hogging. The basics also mean keeping a good formation and on defense it means not lunging in unnecessarily so you don’t get beat easily.
Especially in sports, you’ll hear the phrase “they’re doing the little things well.” Most winning teams, and I venture to say all winnings teams, couldn’t win if they only did the slick, eye-grabbing tricks. The advanced techniques are only effective when combined with the fundamentals of the game. Basketball movies saturize this notion with the old guard complaining how the new generation is too focused on the wrong or fancy individual skills before ever mastering the basics of the sport.
With every discipline there is a starting position. The thing or things you should learn first. In learning these, you can then advance to the next, more difficult part of that discipline. It’s like climbing stairs. You take one by one from the bottom until you get to the top. A lot of this is so plain and simple and yet every day people try to skip sections or whole parts entirely. They are too impatient. Learning the fundamentals seems boring and wasteful of their time. They want to be masters right away. Nothing in life works this way. Trust me. It may for a short time, more than likely attributed to dumb luck, but in time you’ll be exposed a fraud.
I see this with Hollywood writers a lot. Many start writing scripts without having studied the craft itself. They say to themselves that a script doesn’t have as many words as a novel so it’ll be easier and faster. Not true. You have to have an extreme economy of words and have the most impact with what’s actually on the page. They don’t know what constitutes as good storytelling and therefore how in the world can they tell a great story? Again, it may happen by chance, but it won’t last. Last week I used filmmaker Robert Rodriguez to highlight that lesson. One of the aspects I highlighted was that from a very young age he practiced and studied filmmaking. Much of his learning was through trial and error, because it’s all he could do. But that’s what he did. He made short films and experimented with different techniques he wanted to learn. Once he learned a certain skill-set, it became part of his toolkit, being able to reuse it when needed later in life. Furthermore, if you watch his interviews, he says those earlier films were the building blocks or perhaps rather stepping stones to get to his next, more elaborate movie.
At this point hopefully you know what the definition of the basics are. For clarity as to the specifics of your field of interest, do some research. A simple Google search for the fundamentals of photography or the basics of rock climbing work well to bring up meaningful results. If it helps, understand first that any area of life can be boiled down to some core component. Simple ideas that must be deeply understood in order for you to become a master.
By the way, fundamentals can be easy to ignore when in an environment where they aren’t stressed. If you’re taking a class, a good teacher will teach the fundamentals at the same time as teaching more complex techniques. (Or so I hope they do). Anyway, make sure to note what the fundamentals are even if the instructor is not telling you outright, “Hey this is a fundamental…” It’s important you know that it is, otherwise how can you go back to the basics if again you don’t know them?
Now let’s discuss what going back to the basics means and when you would want to do it. In soccer, there were certain matches I played in where the game wasn’t going in our favor. We got frustrated. Our coach, Paul Hunter, would tell us, “go back to the basics.” He meant focus on the little things and do them well, don’t focus beyond the basics as that clearly wasn’t working for us. All we focused on was connecting our passes and keeping the ball. By resetting in this way, we were able to build our confidence quickly and take back control from the other team. The pendulum swung in our favor. In a way it’s saying don’t overcomplicate it. Get out of your own way and your own head. Are you familiar with the acronym KISS – keep it simple stupid.
That was the problem with us on the field during those games – we over-thought certain things. We were concentrating on the wrong aspects. By going back to basics, it re-shifted our focus to the proper priorities.
In the creative acts, particularly the ones that require longer durations, whether film-making, writing, painting, etc., it can be very important to reset one’s mind by going back to the basics. I know from my own projects, I want them to be so good, like this one for instance, that sometimes the more I spend on them I lose sight of what about it is important. But I catch myself and cycle through my mind of why I’m doing something and what the right steps are to accomplish the goal.
I find often in life we already know the solution or the way we should do something. It’s our thoughts that cloud our judgements.
Over-complication can happen within companies too. In order for companies to grow, they have to change, adapt and evolve. And oftentimes this dilutes the original goals, notions and practices that made the company so effective in the first place. But companies that not only survive and thrive are aware of this fact and not only make sure that any initiative will help serve the greater good, but they’ll also after a certain amount of time assess the cost-benefit factors of any new methods. Some they keep, others they scrap. But the more everything services their simple and original goal, the stronger it will become. Take AfterBuzz TV – our goal is to serve TV superfans, anywhere, anytime. And we’re doing that quite well. And anything we do that’s new has to serve that purpose. If you think going back to the basics, it’s really a forced introspection to help yield greater results.
Here’s a quick anecdote about truly going back to the basics. In 1961 the Green Bay Packers lost the NFL championship to the Philadelphia Eagles. On the first day of the July training camp after that heartbreaking season, coach Vince Lombardi, as author David Maraniss explains, “began a tradition of starting from scratch, assuming that the players were blank slates who carried over no knowledge from the year before… He began with the most elemental statement of all. ‘Gentleman,’ he said, holding a pigskin in his right hand ‘this is a football’.”
In the days that followed, his methodical adherence to the fundamentals continued. They learned to block, throw and tackle. They studied the entire playbook beginning with page one. Six months later, Green Bay defeated the Giants with a score of 37 to zero to win the NFL championship.
Let’s take it back to the individual.
For a lot of people diets serve as a way to reset the body. Perhaps you’re eating to much junk food and realize that your body needs actual sustenance and not the garbage you’ve been feeding it. Altering your diet in this way is a form of resetting.
Why do most cultures promote meditation? Because it the easiest but quite often best way to reset ourselves. Mediation aims to quiet the mind so solutions can appear to you that were always there. Mediation triggers your body back to normal. It promotes deep breathing – one of the true fundamentals for all life.
So if you’re ever feeling frustrated in any arena of life, no matter what part of the process you’re at, don’t be afraid to reset and just go back to basics because no matter how much things may change, the sound basic principles will remain the same. Doing so will propel you forward better than continuing to needlessly and tirelessly hammer away. By the way, sometimes we divert from the basics because the alternative offers a path of lesser resistance. But as mentioned before, the results of this will not be what you expect them to be or you may pay a price you weren’t expecting. Utilizing the basics creates tiny gains that add up to something very significant. Remember though, in order to be able to go back to the basics, you must first understand the basics so learn those first and foremost. Good luck. Also, since the World Cup is in full swing and I’ve been talking about soccer and sports throughout this video, allow me to say – allez Les Bleus! That means “Let’s go France” in french.
As always here’s quotes to reinforce today’s lesson on the importance of going back to the basics.
“Success is neither the magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying the basic fundamentals.” – Jim Rohn
“Can I jump over two or three guys like I used to? No. Am I as fast as I used to be? No, but I still have the fundamentals and smarts. That’s what enables me to still be a dominant player. As a kid growing up, I never skipped steps. I always worked on fundamentals because I know athleticism is fleeting.” – Kobe Bryant
“All compromise is based on give and take, but there can be no give and take on fundamentals. Any compromise on mere fundamentals is a surrender. For it is all give and no take.” – Mahatma Gandhi
“The technology at the leading edge changes so rapidly that you have to keep current after you get out of school. I think probably the most important thing is having good fundamentals.” – Gordon Moore
“Great sculptors and artists spend countless hours perfecting their talents. They don’t pick up a chisel or a brush and palette, expecting immediate perfection. They understand that they will make many errors as they learn, but they start with the basics, the key fundamentals first.” – Joseph Wirthlin
Before you head off, here’s a few final things to take note of. We’ve included an article from Industry Week on the importance of fundamentals. Check it out. While you’re already here, leave a comment with any thoughts, opinions or questions you may have so Phil or Juliet can respond. We love to read what you share with us. If you enjoyed this, please be sure to hit that like button and let your friends and family know about it. If you’d like to be notified when future episodes release, be sure to subscribe on either Apple Podcast or YouTube. Lastly, if you’re a new host in the LA area and would like to join AfterBuzz TV, click the link provided for you in the description. Or of course you can Tweet @PhilSvitek or Instagram me @BonjourJuliet. Thanks for watching. We’ll see you next Monday with another one of Phil’s life lessons.