I often hear people saying stuff like, “You don’t need to read non-fiction books anymore!” They pretend they somehow “graduated” from the whole personal development movement.
“I stopped listening to podcasts,” is another one of those statements. Every time I hear something like that, one word comes to mind: Arrogance.
When people say they are done with learning, what are they really saying? They are saying they are too good for the knowledge that other people are sharing.
They are saying, “I don’t need this. I know it better.” And that’s exactly the type of person I don’t relate to.
Following trends vs focusing on the fundamentals
I used to work at the front office of a gym during my college days. During that time, I noticed two types of people who signed up. You had people who signed up to participate in the latest fitness trend. And there have been many of those!
Remember Tae Bo? What the hell was that about?
Or how about the Atkins diet? And all the variations on spinning classes? There was the Zumba craze. The Yoga craze. I also remember when Crossfit became popular.
These days, everybody is all about rock climbing. Yeah, yeah, I get it, you watched Free Solo and now you think you can do the same.
There are always people who jump on those trends, simply because it’s popular. These folks followed the latest trends.
They signed up, came to the gym for a few months, and you would never see them again.
And then there were people who focused on the basics. These people didn’t care about trends. Instead, they were driven by inner goals—which could be anything from losing weight to building strength.
They cared about the results. They asked: What are proven strategies? What has worked for decades? What are the fundamentals of a practice?
Naturally, the latter group was very small. But the people who focused on the fundamentals were the ones who stuck around. In fact, it’s been more than 10 years ago that I worked at that gym. But I still run into some of those people at my current gym.
Even the most experienced meditators still meditate
What I’m trying to say is that when you decide to move into a certain direction in life, it becomes a lifestyle. And people who are “done” with something never really started in the first place.
They just hopped on a trend. It’s exactly the same thing with personal development. So when you read another one of those nonsense pieces about how you should stop reading and start living, shrug it off.
If you’re in it for life, you keep repeating the basics.
I just finished reading Mindfulness In Plain English by Bhante Gunaratana, a Buddhist monk. One of the things I learned from that book is that even the most experienced meditators still repeat the basics. They meditate like a beginner. And they are never “done” meditating.
It’s a lifestyle. So why do most people quit something? Why did those people quit the gym? Why do some people quit reading personal development books? A lack of patience. Gunaratana said it best:
“Patience is the key. Patience. If you learn nothing else from meditation, you will learn patience. Patience is essential for any profound change.”
Ask yourself: Why am I trying to improve myself? If we have the wrong intentions, like trying to impress others, or become rich, we quit if we don’t get quick results.
But if you have an inner drive, you will automatically have more patience. When you no longer do something for external reasons, you will adopt a beginner’s mind.
And that is the key to lasting success. When you adopt this mindset, you don’t even have the arrogance to say something like “I’m done with this practice.” You also don’t think you know it all after reading a few books.
Repeat the fundamentals
Everything in life has fundamentals. From fitness to diet to philosophy to meditation. Focus on those fundamentals and repeat them often.
And never forget the fundamentals. That will keep you humble. But it will also make you better.
The best basketball players in the world practice the free-throw thousands of times. Kobe Bryant famously made 100,000 practice shots during the off-season. He didn’t forget about the fundamentals. Tim Duncan, another basketball great, was even called “The Big Fundamental” because he built a career on basic basketball moves. Some people called him boring. I call it effective.
So no, you can never be done with mastering the basics. Nor can you be ever done with improving yourself. It’s a process that ends when life ends.
Until then, keep on improving yourself, my friend.