Master the Fundamentals — Life Principle #22

Learning the fundamentals of any skill requires practice and repetition. We know this. But the question is why? Why learn scales when you can’t just jump on YouTube and learn every song imaginable? Why learn to draw when I️ can just jump straight into illustrator? Why learn

Because the basics reinforce your creative abilities. The better you are at the fundamentals, the better at acquiring a higher level of skill and a greater ability of expression.

Life Principle #22: Master the fundamentals.

Building from the foundations up.

A skill is essentially a collection of micro skills. (Or meta-skills)
For every skill, there is a subset of smaller skills that add up to the greater sum. Most people don’t really think about them when their learning, which is one reason why the majority of people don’t reach mastery in their crafts. 

Design, for example, could be broken down into:

Understanding color
Typography
Spacing
Lighting
Designer Eye
Branding
Marketing
Layering & Repurposing
Aesthetics
Drawing
Logos
.. (and so on)

As well as the tools you use to design (Illustrator, InDesign, Sketch, etc)
    
Sure, the fundamentals might be rout, dry, boring, and monotonous, but they are essential. To become a high performer at what we do, we must master the fundamentals. Fundamentals become less boring when you realize the why behind them. When you understand how powerful they are at raising your game, you no longer feel bored, you feel like you have an unfair advantage.

Fundamentals make you razor sharp. (And fast too) There’s a huge difference between the work of someone jumps right into the deep end, and someone who has a mastery over the fundamentals. You’re lightning. You’ve ingrained the movements deep into your body and mind where you don’t have to think about what your doing, you just do I­t­, and make I­t­ look natural.

Fundamentals builds the foundations for high performance. If you want to be in the top percentile of your field, building up a toolbox of micro skills will get you further than you thought possible.

And having a grasp on the fundamentals allows you to break the fundamentals and create something new and exciting.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

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Related Insights

“Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying the basic fundamentals.” — Jim Rohn

“When I was young, I had to learn the fundamentals of basketball. You can have all the physical ability in the world, but you still have to know the fundamentals.” — Michael Jordan

“The book is there for inspiration and as a foundation, the fundamentals on which to build.” Thomas Keller

Life Principle #11: Define Your Values (Throw A Party)

Do you ever look at a homeless person and wonder what happened to end up where they are?

One time, when I️ was selling my boldsheep clothing at a Sunday market, my Gabriella and I️ somehow came to the conclusion I­t­ would be funny if she sat on the floor in front of my pop-up shop holding a cardboard box with the words ‘will sell shirts for $’ written in big bold lettering.

What happened blew me away!

No one would look at her.

Not even a glance. They couldn’t even take the time to read the sign to see I­t­ was a joke. Someone even called the market cops in! 

We quickly explained the story.

I️ wonder if the reason we ignore homeless people is that deep down, we know that in a bad turn of choices and circumstances that could be us. (Either that or its because they always ask for drinking… er… I️ mean food money)

In the last couple years, I️ experienced a very stress-filled financial meltdown.  Things weren’t working at work and essential I️ wasn’t making enough to live, WHILE I️ was going through some health setbacks. All that to say, my brush against finance chaos made me realize how important your values are, your support group (the people you are closest too), your mindset (what you think, and how you talk to yourself) and your willingness to let go and ask for help is. Without those four things, there’s not much that separates you from a nice home and good food, to no home and going to bed hungry.

This is an extreme example, yet true.
However, finding yourself on the street might not even be the worst way to live. You could argue that going your entire life without knowing hardly anything about who you are and what you love is worse. I️ think I️ can speak for all of us when I️ say, being on your deathbed with regret, looking back at an aimless life in which you flutter from one thing to the next, with no rhyme or reason might be worse than death itself.

This is why defining your values is vitally important.

Life Principle #11 Define Your Values

Defining your values is identifying what you stand for and then standing for them.

What do you want in life?
What matters more than anything to you?
What
makes you feel ALIVE?

Now take a good look at the life you are living today. The closer aligned your values of who you want to be and the way you live each day are direct cause and effect. Or in other words,

Show me your values and I’ll show you how far you will get in life.

The problem is, no one each us this shtuff. And if they try it’s so boring we never actually sit down and ask ourselves the most important question: Who do I️ want to be?

But not here, I️ like to keep us on our toes here at the Renaissance Life.
So you know what that means…

It’s time to party. 🥂

Next time you have a chunk of time off, say when you get off work, or this weekend throw a party. Block off some time, put i­t­ on your calendar and make I­t­ mandatory. Who should you invite? You, yourself and you of course! (Buzzkill?) Seriously. It’s time to have a knockdown, drag-out, uncomfortable talk with yourself about who you are, and who you want to be.

Sit down with a pen and some paper. Have a list of questions you want to ask yourself. (Including the three above). Turn off your phone, Block all notifications and social media. Clean your house beforehand so you’re not distracted by your environment. Do whatever you gotta do to be alone for your party.

It’s going to be challenging, I­t­ might even be awkward, but it’s going to be worth i­t­ because defining your values is the most important thing you can do.

How many of us go through the motions in life, aimless, and hoping something good would happen. I️ say, let’s make I­t­ happen!

Imagine as if you were having dinner with your current self, your childhood self, and your future selves. Every action and choice you make today can determine your future self, so there might be a few of future you’s at this party.

Start with where you are:

What lights you up?
If you could learning anything instantly what would I­t­ be?
Where do you dream about living?
What do you really think of your current job/school life?
What kind of people do you love to be around?
What did you love to do as a kid?
How do you think about yourself? 
Do you defeat yourself with your mind before you even begin?
How much time do you let yourself have fun on any given week?
What are your current inputs? (TV, books, people, food etc)

And then ask yourself questions about who you would like to be:

What does my ideal job? What sounds like the greatest job to you?
What would make me happier? 
What life would make my childhood self proud?
What is missing?
Am I️ letting fear win over courage?
What do I️ want to master?
Who do I️ want to know and be friends with?
What kind of life would make my future self happy on his/her death bed?
What are my strengths and how can I️ make them daily habits?
What are my weaknesses and how can I️ turn them into opportunities?
What would I­t­ look like if I­t­ was easy (This ones’ from Tim Ferriss)

The person you want to be is closer than you think. All I­t­ takes is a decision, this day, about who you want to be. I️ believe we are capable of change, and that change begins the moment we decide that we want I­t­.

Your values will change as you grow, they will ebb and flow depending on where you are in life. But your core foundations will always stay the same.
For me, life principles are my defining values. Be a Lifelong Learner, Act Boldly, Live Boldly, Be Your Own Renaissance. These are the values I️ have and the life principles I️ aim for. I️ don’t always hit the bullseye, but I’m always aiming my arrow in that direction.

Knowing who you want to be makes failure and bombing easier. Failures change from cataclysmic my-life-is-over moments into stepping stones to opportunities.

Today is the day to choose to be different.
See the change, take the leap.
Whoever you think you are, you are correct.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

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Related Insights

“Here are the values that I stand for: honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, treating people the way you want to be treated and helping those in need. To me, those are traditional values.” — Ellen DeGeneres

“I have learned that as long as I hold fast to my beliefs and values – and follow my own moral compass – then the only expectations I need to live up to are my own.” — Michelle Obama

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, 
Your thoughts become your words, 
Your words become your actions, 
Your actions become your habits, 
Your habits become your values, 
Your values become your destiny.”
 
― Mahatma Gandhi

“If you don’t stick to your values when they’re being tested, they’re not values: they’re hobbies.” —  Jon Stewart

“Find people who share your values, and you’ll conquer the world together.” 
― John Ratzenberger

Life Principle #10: Live Intentionally

I’m bad about saying no to more things. 
More work, more friends, more knowledge, more impact — more more more.
Wait a minute Josh, work, friends, knowledge… why are these bad?

The problem is more work doesn’t necessarily mean more financial peace, it just means your busy all the time.
More knowledge isn’t bad until it squeezes things you already know and love out of your brain, by taking away your attention for what matters to you. More friends are great, except for the fact you can’t go deep because you don’t have the proper time to give to all of them.

Long story long, MORE stretch yourself thin, and without a  laser focus, you’ll be doing a lot of things, but not accomplishing anything.

Success doesn’t fall into our laps, yet most go around living like it does.
They wait for the rain to stop, they wait for their day to shine.

Change doesn’t either. 

If you want an extraordinary life, you’ve got to put on your shoes and go LIVE like the worlds gone tomorrow.

Life Principle #10: Live Intentionally

There’s a book by F. Scott Fitzgerald called This Side of Paradise. It’s a classic.
And I also hate it. 

It’s not the writing, nor the etching of the early 1900s. It’s the directionless characters, include the main protagonist Amory Blaine.  Amory drifts through his life, knowing he can be somebody special, yet to lazy to try and figure out who he is.

How many people do you know go about their lives living aimlessly, with nothing guiding them except the direction of the wind that day? How many people do you know who are shut down completely? They spend their whole lives saying things, but never doing them, or jumping from one fling to the next, or from one TV show to the next, not because they care, but because that’s what they do.

They exist, but they are not living. 

But not for us. If you desire to be or do something worthwhile its time for you to create radical change in your life.

To me, living intentionally is the ultimate form of awareness about yourself.
Knowing who want to be is not enough, you must also be intentional about your habits, input and thinking to get there. When you know who you are, you know when to say Yes or No to opportunities and actions.

Should I go to Disneyland? Well, no because you don’t like rides (or happiness).
Should I change careers? Well, you might want to consider it if you live for the weekends and your current job sucks the life out of you.

Be intentionally about the habits, friends, and life you choose.
Because it is a choice.

When you’re younger growing up, I would sometimes here adults say something like, ‘You can be anything you want to be, you could even be president!’ And a piece of you believes it, and another says to keep your head down and make good grades.

But really it’s the Nonconformist’s who color outside the lines, break the rules of whats possible that rule the world.

There are people out there, right NOW, who make a living from podcasting. There are people out there who EVEN surf for a flipping living. People direct movies like Star Wars for a living! People sing for a living! Anything you want to do is possible!

Living intentionally is knowing you can make an impact and have fun doing it.

If you want to be something, go do it.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

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Related Insights

“The quality of your commitments will determine the course of your life.”Ralph Marston

“You can go slow. Allow your dreams and goals to change, but live an intentional life.”Kumail Nanjiani

“You don’t climb mountains without a team, you don’t climb mountains without being fit, you don’t climb mountains without being prepared and you don’t climb mountains without balancing the risks and rewards. And you never climb a mountain on accident – it has to be intentional.”Mark Udall

Life Principle #9 Keep Pursuing

Of all the principles we’ve talked about so far, persistence might be the biggest one.

How many poor fools have given up right before they were about to make it happen?

How many poor fools have given up right before they were about to make it happen?

In his wonderful little book, the dip, Seth Godin talks about when we should quit and when we keep pursuing. “Quit or be exceptional. Average is for losers.” … “People settle. They settle for less than they are capable of.” … “To be a superstar, you must do something exceptional. Not just survive the Dip, but use the Dip as an opportunity to create something so extraordinary that people can’t help but talk about it, recommend it, and, yes, choose it.”

The biggest difference between those who can persist and those who can’t is the intention behind their actions.

Are you doing it for the money, the numbers, the fame, the power?

Or are you doing it because you love the craft?

There’s a massive difference between the results of those two ideologies.

Love what you do, and you will go further than you could ever imagine.

Life Principle #9 Keep Pursuing

The ability to keep going, despite obstacles, despite naysayers and go above and beyond what most people will try is a valuable tool to have in life.

Pursuit is not a mindless pedal to the metal, push yourself until you break or burnout. In fact, it’s the opposite.

Pursuit is a slow moving steamroller, paving the way forward. Sure there will be bumps along the way towards your dream life, but that’s okay, you know you can and will persist.

 

Taking the turtle 🐢 approach

Think about the classic tortoise and the hare story. It’s always the thoughtful, caring, and persistent turtle that ultimately wins the race. 

But in life, we are both the turtle and the hare. A part of us wants everything quickly, now, ASAP, tomorrow’s too late… And the other part knows that we want to take our time and earn it. More often than not the hare wins out for me. But the more I take the turtle approach — slowing down, doing things right, focusing on quality, not quantity — things just work

You may be one more action away from achieving your goals. Are you going to give up, or give it a try?

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

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Related Insights

“You simply have to put one foot in front of the other and keep going. Put blinders on and plow right ahead.” — George Lucas

“I believe each of us has a mission in life, and that one cannot truly be living their most fulfilled life until they recognize this mission and dedicate their life to pursuing it.” — Blake Mycoskie

“There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy and the tired.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald

“I am not the richest, smartest or most talented person in the world, but I succeed because I keep going and going and going.” — Sylvester Stallone

“I’m satisfied and proud of the things I did – even the bumps and the bruises that I’ve had on the way. You fall down, you get up, you brush yourself off and you keep going. And that’s what we’re doing.” — Gucci Mane

Principle #1: Become a Lifelong Learner

“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.” — Pele

Lifelong learning is the foundational principle of believing there is always room to learn something new and improve in things you love. When we start thinking we have nothing else to learn, we begin to plateau and eventually will feel stuck. 

What you pursue is up to you! I love music, writing, design, entrepreneurship, connecting, ideas, psychology, and health and wellness to name a few dozen. 

High performers know there is always the next level — 

Someone who can teach you more and something new.
Something you can practice to hone your skills.
Even something you can create and experiment with to expand what you think, and what the world thinks is possible!

Mastery isn’t an end state; Mastery is a mindset. A mindset that begins with becoming a lifelong learner.

Now, there are two polar extremes that are easy to fall into, (believe me, I’ve been there) which GO AGAINST the learning principle:

1. “I am not enough” “I will never be enough”
2. “Lifelong learning is too long, too hard and too overwhelming. I need results ASAP!:

1. False Belief: “I Am Not Enough”
 

This is a limiting belief that is holding you back. Perhaps a family member or teacher told you this (or implied it). They don’t know anything. They don’t know you. They don’t know what you are capable of. The person that creates your self-worth is YOU. I’m here to tell you, YOU ARE ENOUGH. If you get one thing from this post it’s that. You are enough. Learning isn’t about fulfilling a hole in your life of not being enough. Learning is the mutual belief that you are enough WHILE knowing, with a little bit of elbow grease, you can be more, do more and have a more impactful life.

In other words, learning is one of the keys to unlocking a meaningful life.

The more you know, the more capable you become, the more people will desire your help.

 

2. False Belief: “Lifelong learning is too long, too hard and too overwhelming. I need results ASAP!”

Pursuing a life of learning doesn’t mean it’s going to take you a lifetime to reach greatness in what you do. You will immediately start seeing results from learning and challenging yourself. Even a single day of learning means you know and are more capable than you were yesterday! Learning compounds by how much you practice and who you surround yourself with. The longer you stick with it the more you will accomplish.

So what does lifelong learning look like in practice?

Lifelong learning in practice

Read A Little Every Day.

Create a habit of consuming quality input of work from the wisdom of our ages. When I want to learn something new, the first thing I do is go to Amazon and see if there are any good books on the subject.

Try adding books that feel outside of your abilities too. Expand your mental muscles a little each day!

Find People/Mentors Who Can Push Your Mind and Fill You with Insights

I used to falsely think it was better to learn without imitating others. I would deliberately not read books or learn songs on guitar because I DIDN’T WANT THEIR WORK TO CHANGE MY VOICE.

I D I O T. 

Everything we do since birth is infused with imitation! The greatest ideas are ones that come from other’s ideas and create connections in a unique way.

Share What You Learn

Find friends who love what you love.
Teach what you know.
Create your own community around the skills you are learning to master.

Lifelong learning is your first principle to mastering your life.

Q: What are you going to learn?

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

P.S. Join the Renaissance Life newsletter to learn more insights on life and mastery.

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Related Insights

“Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.” — Anthony J. D’Angelo

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” — Mahatma Gandhi

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” — Albert Einstein