I used to love playing basketball. I still do (although I don’t play as much nowadays).
I was never really that great at it. I barely made the team as a Freshman in high school and was cut as a Sophomore trying out for Junior Varsity. But that was ok. I enjoyed the overall experience. It’s a great game.
Back when I was in grade school, I remember convincing my mother to sign me up for a basketball camp. It was there I met the high school basketball coach, Vaughn Stapleton.
That week of camp, he drilled one word into our heads so often that it was almost annoying.
His message was basically that in order to be a really good basketball player, you have to acquire and master the basic skills. Advanced skills are nearly useless (and can be a liability) if the basics aren’t sound. And, it’s almost impossible to spend too much time honing your core skills.
This was a bit of a shock to me. You see, I was enamored with wanting to acquire the advanced skills. That’s why I was going to camp wasn’t it? This is what really impresses others right? The basic skills are straightforward, boring, tedious and time consuming. Sure, we can work on them a little; but let’s move on shall we?
But we didn’t.
Day after day, drill after drill, we worked on the basics, then we played games. When critiquing performance, more often than not, it came down to the fact that I needed to get better at my fundamentals to improve.
Guess what happened? After a week at camp, I became a much better basketball player.
More importantly, I listened and remembered the messages.
Even to this day, I still use these basic lessons.
If the fundamentals aren’t solid, there isn’t much to build on. If something isn’t working the way I’d expect or like, I first do a check to make sure that the basic structure and assumptions are sound. In many cases, that not only helps but it prevents major problems down the road. It applies for at work as well life.
Sounds pretty simple right? (duh!)
Well, in the sophisticated business world of global insurance/reinsurance & risk management, you would be shocked to see how many products, processes, teams, systems, etc. either have problems or fail due to the lack of sound fundamentals.
I’m not sure I really understand why. Perhaps the basics are boring and require tedious hard work? Perhaps they are “obvious” and taken for granted? Regardless, when they aren’t sound, trouble always eventually results.
I will try to always keep working the basics and ensuring that the fundamentals are sound. If I can figure out a way to pass this on to my sons, they may benefit was well.
And hopefully I’ll be able to shoot some hoops with my sons when they get back from scout camp later!