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This article was excerpted from the book, Principles For Personal Growth by Adam Khan. Buy it now here.


I SEE MY WORK as beginner material. And I'm not saying that to insult my work. Not at all. The most important material in any field is fundamental and not fancy. It is beginner material. Most of the greatest gains come from the most basic methods.

For example, I know a young man who drinks wheat grass, uses healing magnets in his shoes, and drinks water only if it is filtered. But he doesn't exercise. In my opinion, exercise is beginner material. It is basic and fundamental and would produce more real gains to his state of health and well-being than all the esoteric stuff combined. There are hundreds of studies showing how effective and important exercise is, and there are only scattered reports or mere anecdotal evidence that the other three things I mentioned make much of a difference or do any good at all.

There are a few things in life that are really important. All else is secondary and even superfluous. But the fundamentals are boring to an inquisitive mind like yours, so it wanders off and wants to get fancy. But to succeed and experience peace of mind you need to keep coming back to the basic fundamentals.

Earl Nightingale once had a conversation with his friend, Dr. L.D. Pankey. Nightingale was looking at a picture of one of Pankey's classes he taught for the people in his profession every year, when he noticed that there were some familiar faces — faces he'd seen in pictures of earlier classes.

"I notice many of the people who took your course a year ago took it again this year," said Nightingale, "What did you teach them this year that you didn't teach them last year?"

"Nothing," replied Pankey, "I teach them the same thing every year, not only in this country but abroad as well. Oh, I add to it each year, as I learn new things. But basically, it's the same course every year."

"Do you mean you teach the same things to the same people all over again?"

"That's right," said Pankey. He looked up at Nightingale. "When you find your golf game isn't as good as you'd like it to be," he said, "or you suddenly find the ball isn't going where you want it to go, and you can't quite put your finger on what's wrong, what do you do?"

Nightingale didn't have to think about that one. "Well, I go back to the pro for some lessons."

"That's right. And what does he teach you? Does he teach you something new about the game — something you didn't know at some time before? Or does he merely remind you once again of the basic fundamentals that, if you'll but be guided by them, will result in your getting the kind of score you'll be happier with?"

The idea of coming back to basics is itself a basic and needs reminding too. And one of the most enjoyable way to re-learn the basics is to teach them to others. No doubt, as you read the articles on this web site, you will learn many useful things that you'll be able to teach your friends, and by teaching them, they will benefit and you will learn it better. That's a finding that has schools changing their curricula.

In tutoring programs in the past, they would take kids who excelled and let them teach kids who weren't doing very well. But recently, a different approach has shown a tremendous amount of promise: Taking average or below-average students and having them teach students two grades lower — fourth graders tutoring second graders, for example.

In studies on this approach it was found that the second graders obviously benefit, but the fourth graders did too. Many of them had never quite mastered some skills until they had to teach it to someone. The process of teaching the younger students allowed the older students to clarify and solidify what they had learned before, and it also improved their attitudes and increased their self-confidence besides.

When you think you've got a pretty good grasp on something from this web site, teach it to someone. The process of doing so will increase your own understanding, as well as giving you an even better attitude than you have now, and giving you more self-confidence than you have already.

Helping someone else learn something fundamental will deepen your mastery of those important basics. One of the things I like most about the business I'm in — writing — is how much better I understand what I learn just by trying to explain it to you.

Stick to the basics: Your health, your relationships, your peace of mind. Everything else is icing. If your frame of mind is good, when your relationships are all dandy, and when you've done what you can for your health for today, then worry about extras. Don't spend time on icing when the basics are not in place.


some of the basics

Once on a quiet holiday at the coast, when I was feeling philosophical, I posed myself the question: "Of all the things I know that are practical and really help, what are the ones I know that are the most solid and effective?" I came up with three. Here they are:

1. Purpose Focus
Constantly bring your attention back to your purpose. At any given time, be clear what your purpose is for the task you are engaged in. Know what you are aiming at. As much as possible, make your purposes something you want rather than something you feel you should do. And focus your attention on what you want rather than what you don't want. Spend time thinking and planning.

2. Anti-Negativity
Aggressively criticize your negative thoughts. Don't try to be positive; try to be accurate. It is easier to do this on paper than in your head for many reasons. Use the 22 virus definitions from the antivirus for your mind to give you an idea of how to criticize your thoughts. But you don't really need anything other than the will to criticize your own negativity.

3. Self-Coaching
Talk to yourself in a way that creates motivation and determination to take intelligent action. Deliberately take over your stream of thought. Use mottos and slogans. Practice thinking things; use repetition to make the new thoughts familiar and comfortable and natural. Remember that: Talk to yourself in a way that creates or intensifies your motivation.

You'll see these simple ideas woven throughout the pages of this web site. Whenever I find something that really works, it almost always involves one of these elements. There are other things that help, of course, but I've found it extremely useful to have chopped it down into its most simple and basic elements, and these are the ones I've found to be the most reliably helpful, applied in an almost unlimited number of ways.

If you already know the principles on this web site and apply them, then read this site to boost your conviction and motivation to keep on doing what you already know works. If you know the material but don't apply it, then let this site motivate you to get to work. And if you come across something new here, that's great too. But whatever you do in your life, keep to the basics — the simple, the practical, and the effective.


Stick to the few fundamentals.

This article was excerpted from the book, Principles For Personal Growth by Adam Khan. Buy it now here.

Author: Adam Khan
author of the books, Self-Help Stuff That Works and Antivirus For Your Mind
and creator of the blog:
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