Building a good foundation is essential to the stability and durability of a structure. We use the analogy of building a good foundation to understand the importance of mastering fundamentals in a discipline. We build on fundamentals to achieve mastery.
My weight training program is an example of striving to build a good foundation. In my weight training program, the fundamentals are focus, form and strength. The first year was spent doing high repetition sets with low weights. Understanding good form on the various machines and with the free weights has been very important. Learning to listen to the body has been important. Listening to the body is about understand strengths and weaknesses. It is about avoiding injuries.
I learned how to put the ego aside. I learned how to breathe.
In a year’s time a certain level of even strength between arms and legs developed. In that same period of time I acquired some skill in a variety of exercises which served to isolate individual muscles and muscle groups. It was at this point, about a year in, that the goals changed. It was time to start working more aggressively to build body mass.
There is a new set of fundamentals for the the new goal. The fundamentals relate to training techniques, nutrition, and overall self-maintenance. There are new challenges with respect to diet and supplementation. Protein is a much bigger part of the diet. Deeper,more productive sleep has been a big challenge. Dietary supplement choices have been a challenge. Cutting back on drinking has been a challenge.
In essence I have moved from one set of fundamentals to another. The new set of fundamentals which must be mastered are diet, sleep, and training method. My ability to address these new fundamentals rests on the original foundation building with respect to focus, form and strength. Focus carries over into the ability to improve sleep. Focus, strength and form support the more aggressive work with heavier weights and shorter sets.
In another year, I look forward to enhanced dietary supplementation and even more aggressive training methods.
In every discipline, this patient layering of fundamentals upon fundamentals establishes the foundation which makes mastery in the disciplien possible. While goals are extremely important for motivation and progress, the goal of mastery is elusive. For at each level, mastery becomes something higher for which we strive. For this reason it is important to recognize and value our present achievements.