“Success lies in a masterful consistency around the fundamentals.” – Robin Sharma

“I do believe in simplicity. […] So simplify the problem of life, distinguish the necessary and the real. Probe the earth to see where your main roots run.” – Henry David Thoreau

No matter what you want to achieve, there’s a simple (but not necessarily easy) way to do it: focus on the fundamentals. According to the dictionary, for something to be fundamental means it’s “a central or primary rule or principle on which something is based.” They’re the things we do or believe which lay the foundation for everything else.

For a basketball player, the fundamentals are passing, shooting, layups, free throws, dribbling, rebounding, and defense. For an artist, they’re placement, size, foreshortening, overlapping, shading, shadow, contour, and perspective. No matter what the domain, from Michael Jordan to Leonardo Da Vinci, the greats have all mastered their fundamentals. “It’s those little things that make the best teams and players,” explains coach Jeff Haefner. “If you can master those little fundamentals, they work no matter what!”1

What Are Your Fundamentals?

Just as focusing on the fundamentals in an athletic or creative domain can make you a better athlete or producer, focusing on the fundamentals in your life can make you a better person. “Identify your fundamentals,” suggests Optimize CEO Brian Johnson. “What are the things that, when you do them consistently, make you feel GREAT?!”


Think of a time in your life when you were really happy and rocking it. What were the things that you were doing that made you feel so good? Maybe it was taking a walk, playing an instrument, doing something creative, or sitting silently in solitude. Maybe it was an afternoon nap, a cross-fit workout, or a bubble bath.

Whatever it is, are you still doing it? If not, maybe it’s time to start again!

Fundamentals of the Greats

We each have our own unique preferences, but while researching high achievers, I noticed that many of them shared several activities in common. Most of these behaviors were simple, and by mimicking them I found myself consistently in a better mood, and more successful.

Here’s what my current daily practices look like:

  • Journaling: A morning journal session to practice gratitude and prepare for the day, and an evening session to review and reflect.
  • Meditation: It’s the #1 thing I recommend. My current practice includes 20 minutes, twice a day. (If you haven’t read the Guide to Meditation yet, grab a free copy here!)
  • Sleep: One of the basic brain needs. This is probably the place where I could still use the most work, although lately I’ve been consistently getting between 7 and 8 hours of sleep, at least 6 nights a week.
  • Morning yoga & daily exercise: Our physical bodies are the foundation of everything we do. For me, honoring that foundation includes both a morning yoga ritual and some other physical activity 6-7 times a week.
  • Plant-based nutrition: In a few years time I’ve gone from eating everything but the kitchen sink to mindfully focusing on the fuel that powers my body. (Mostly plant-based, with some eggs and fish.)
  • Cold showers: I started taking cold showers almost two years ago and haven’t taken a shower that didn’t at least end with pure cold water since. I love it.
  • Practice kindness: The research shows that we feel better when we do good for other people.

Focus On Your Fundamentals

What are your fundamentals? Take the time to do them consistently and see if it makes a difference in your mood and your performance. Of course, some days will be better than others, but hopefully overall you’ll see both higher highs and higher lows.

If it’s been a while since you last practiced, or you want to add something new, try starting out with just a single activity and then build once you get into a rhythm. Good luck!

  1. https://www.breakthroughbasketball.com/fundamentals/basketballfundamentals.html []