Essentially the Basics by Michael Aloia

Skill is a combination of time, technique, and training of the basics. Most things we do in life are a series of procedures or methods. Even the simplest of tasks involves a procedure to activate an additional series of actions and achieve an end result. Those tasks that are involuntary or natural and those that are voluntary or otherwise the ones we choose to learn. Involuntary and natural are those things that come inherent to us and the world – breathing, blinking, the pumping of our hearts, and the sunset and rise. Voluntary is just about everything else. A process of actions and reactions are involved to attain or complete a desired outcome. That end result may also allow other things to process, function and exist, which, in turn, supports the continuous function and existence of the initial process – giving it point and purpose; one action supporting the next, completing a continuous circle of existence, form and function.

Within each and every procedure resides a string of smaller components. Each of those components could also be broken down further into a series of even smaller components and so on, until the core component or action is reached – similar to the cell makeup of a person or the construction materials used for building. What results in the end, without those smaller components, would just not be. By themselves, these components are ultimately basic, possibly only doing just one thing. But it is the joining together with other basic components that create a much more advanced system or method. Ironically, there is no such thing as “being advanced.” Ultimately “advanced” is nothing more than a strong understanding and execution of the “basics.” It is then the compounding of the basics that create a more complex and in-depth way, giving the illusion of being advanced. Without the basics, there would be no progress, no advancement in thought or action. The basics are the key ingredients to life itself – without them, all the rest would be pointless.

With knowledge, basics are the cornerstones of thinking and reasoning. They help to formulate thought patterns that lead to invention and change. These basic elements pave the way to new ideas, new discoveries, and new ways. Knowledge is taking an elementary idea and working it over and over into a new form by looking at the concept from all directions, all tenses, and all possibilities – all stemming from basic theories and dreams. Consider the theory of time travel as an example. Though very complex, the simple idea of getting from one point in time to another point in time as spun itself into a science all its own.

With tactics and skills, basics are the cohesion that turns a concept into an action on the physical level. Once integrated, these actions become responsive and offer a reliable point and purpose mindset when called upon in times of service, survival, or crisis. Consider Basic CPR.

This “basic” lifesaving procedure consists of no more than two or three key steps to provide someone in need with a chance to live.  Two functions are required to sustain life – blood flow and oxygen – and the Basic CPR technique provides this. In fact, given the stakes, Basic CPR is not basic at all as the name would imply. The techniques are basic to allow those with minimal training or lack thereof the chance to save a life, however, those basic techniques support a complex series of functions that normally would operate on their own. The steps of CPR may be simple, yet the magnitude of what it provides from its use speaks volumes resulting in the possible difference between life and death.

Another example would be that of music and its composition. Music is based upon only seven notes. From those seven notes variations of chords, progressions, melodies, and music as we know it are formed and created. Regardless of your music genre tastes and preferences, it’s all based on those seven basic notes. Beats and rhythms are designed around a simple measure of time, most commonly being four beats to a measure. Those four beats can be altered into different time signatures offering more options and a variety of rhythmic patterns. Again, the premise of music composition in its simplistic form is structured around these basic formulas.

As one more example of the power of the basics, we can consider the art of knot tying. This honed craft is the taking of a single piece of rope and manipulating it in such a way that the rope binds securely to itself or with another object. The square knot, arguably the simplest of the basic knots, is used to hold something together like a package or bundle of newspapers. Simply starting from the basics, one can create more intricate knots designed to increase strength, load, and durability such as the sheet knot, Carrick knot, or the constrictor knot. No matter how elaborate a knot can become, the design and steps to achieve the end result are a series of basic patterns – one following the next.

Regardless of what we do or how we chose to do it, the basics are present and more importantly required. The ability to perform is directly related to the understanding of what to do. So often we are all guilty of wanting to be advanced that we sacrifice the ample time needed to master the basic components. Mastery is nothing more than a firm hold on the basics – knowing them inside and out, from all angles and at every point. The strength of the execution is paralleled by the strength of the basics involved. Basics teach not only the how but the why, and the when and to what extent – giving as much as is needed for the situation – no more, no less. Basics offer self-control and self-discipline. They hone a focused mind and tempered spirited. Basics allow us to perform what it is we do efficiently, effectively, and effortlessly.

Essentially, it is all about the basics.


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