Why You Need the Basics Now More Than Ever

Why You Need the Basics Now More Than Ever

In my mid-twenties I played drums for several bands. I was good and made pretty good money doing it. A friend of mine in Los Angeles gave me a Christmas gift of a drum lesson with a famous instructor while I was visiting Southern California. I was looking forward to it but, being a bit cocky at the time, I wondered what he could possibly teach me that I didn’t already know.

The first thing he had me do was just play anything I wanted for him. I whipped out my most intricate and impressive drum solo material. I felt really good about myself when he said, “You are a good!” I knew I was. I had spent hours studying the craft. I was glad he recognized that. I was curious to see where he’d take me from here. Maybe some complex, Latin poly-rhythms or limb independence exercise? (That’s all drummer-talk for complicated stuff.)

To my surprise he pulled out a metronome and set it to 40 beats per minute. He had me play single notes, striking the snare drum – right, left, right, left – at the slowest setting on the metronome. I was kind of annoyed. But what made it worse was, I really struggled to play that slowly. After about ten minutes of doing this I commented, “This is stuff I did when I first started. I’ve only got one lesson with you. I want to learn something new.”

He smiled and said, “You never outgrow the rudiments man.” The lesson ended with me playing a simple rock beat and trying to stay in sync with the 40 beats per minute. I struggled to do it.

The older I get the more I’m convinced that you truly never do outgrow the basics in anything in life. You may get really smooth and know all sorts of jazzy, cool ways to make things look flashy. You may be able to take shortcuts and get away with it for a while. But ultimately, if you haven’t got the basics down you won’t get where you want to go.

Michael Jordan said it this way, “Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise.”

We learned most of the basics for thriving in life in kindergarten. Be kind. Be honest. Forgive. Share. But somehow, along the way, we are all a little prone to wander. We forget how powerful those simple basics can be.

It’s a New Year. Maybe it’s time for us to do some self-evaluation and be honest about areas where we’ve gotten away from the basics. Take your game to the next level by getting back to what always works.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8