Focus on the building blocks

I think the world’s obessesed with flashiness. Everyone wants to know, learn, or buy the latest and greatest. Be it learning, sports, social media, workplace, politics, and of course entertainment. It’s everywhere! You just feel it, don’t you? I sure do. In fact, I’ve fallen into the trap of the “new” just like you have!

But I was lucky to be schooled in the University of Hard Knocks. And one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from my teachers, mentors, and high-performing peers is that focusing on mastering the fundamentals is the greatest investment you can make in yourself. Heck, for all I know, the basics are all you need to not only survive, but thrive.

I’m not advocating a “jack-of-all-trades” approach. That seldom works. The idea is to stay true to your field of choice and invest time in mastering the fundamentals before learning the greatest and hottest. For example, if you closely study a sport of your choice, you will notice that the greatest are masters of the fundamentals. They might know it all but they know they don’t have to do it all. They make it look so simple. But that’s because they’re practicing the basics at a mastery level.

That said, it is possible to master 3-5 (or perhaps, more, but that usually is counterproductive) topics/fields in a lifetime but you do run the risk of spreading yourself too thin. If it were up to me, I would pick a topic, master the basics before moving on to something else. The beauty of this approach is that it gives you the flexibility to revisit the topic/field of study at a later stage when you have more time or realize it’s a much more suitable choice for you.

And if you’re worried about “staying ahead of the curve,” I totally get it. It’s normal. I would still advice you to focus on attaining mastery to what If work requires you to learn “something new,” go ahead and sign-up as needed. But always come back to the area of your core expertise. A perspective that has always helped me is this — what do I want to be known for? A Jack-of-all-trades or the ultimate master of the few?

You don’t have to agree with this thought process at all. But if it makes you think, my job is done. 🙂

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