Knowing the Fundamentals is the Key to Great Performance …

I’m constantly amazed at the lack of realisation by people that you have to invest time and effort in understanding and mastering the fundamentals if you really want to be good at something.

I’ll give you three examples from my experience Software Development, Swimming and Music.

Software Development.  In order to be good at software development and to move beyond the ‘code monkey’ level, where we all start, we need to grasp the fact that our software sits on top of other software, so in order to really understand how our programs are going to function in  real systems, we must understand and master the fundamentals of those systems.  For example, to be really good at configuring SharePoint you really need to be good at configuring Kerberos.  In order to be good at configuring Kerberos, you really need to understand the principles of what is going on. It’s not enough to say “Oh you run setspn and then click the radio button to allow Delegation to all Kerberos Services”.  It’s true that will work – some of the time, but if you hit an issue, unless you understand why you do that, you’ll never be an “expert” in that area. It’s just an example.  Another example is understanding things like Regular Expressions or XSLT – if you don’t understand why they work the way they do, you’ll never master them, know when they can be used or their limitations.  I think I heard or read Spencer Harbar say once that he is astounded how many people don’t actually understand the basic way that the Windows operating system works or how AD works or DNS, yet we’re working with these things all the time.

Swimming.  I swim a bit, my son swims a lot. He’s really good at Butterfly. It’s perceived to be the ‘hardest stroke’, and in a race, it can be physically very demanding, but to actually swim it, I found out this evening is actually really easy.  Our Swimming Club’s Head Coach Mark Wilmot has mastered the fundamentals, he knows how the swimming strokes work and as such I was somewhat startled at first this evening when he said “butterfly is easy”, by the end of the session I believed him.  I’ve seen many swimming coaches teach butterfly by concentrating on the arms, focussing on getting the arms out of the water.  Mark was totally different to all but one coach I’ve heard in my recollection(apologies to any other coaches who’ve also taught this who I know).  He focussed on the kick. “All the power comes from the kick, and it’s simple, One, Two, One, Two, One,  Two … let you arms follow – kick in, kick out, kick in , kick out, One, Two” over and over again he said it. He got us to go up and down not worrying about the arms, just that kicking rhythm “One, Two, One, Two …”.  You know what?  By the end , my arms were starting to be driven by my legs and the effort diminished considerably.  The Coach at Swim Therapy in Leicester Matt, said the same thing and Matt has been instrumental in getting my son’s Buterfly out of a rut and back on track for National Qualification time this year, we hope. It’s because they know the fundamentals.

Music.  Lastly, another example of mastering the fundamentals was demonstrated to me by my older son who plays the Drums.  I’ve always loved the fantastic drum beat on Deep Purple’s “You Fool No One” courtesy of Ian Paice.  I’ve always thought that would be a real stretch for my lad to play.  But, his drum teacher understood and could teach the fundamentals, called rudiments in drumming, and my son learnt those thoroughly, so a few months back I said “listen to this” and played him the Deep Purple track. He listened and said “Oh that’s easy – it’s just a paradiddle like this …” and played it beat perfect almost immediately. I was impressed! But looking back on it, it’s just because he knows and has mastered the fundamentals.

It takes time, dedication, but it’s worth it.  Learn the Fundamentals …


Dave Mc

About davemcmahon81
Software Developer & Architect, User Group Leader, Speaker, Writer, Blogger, Occasional Guitarist, Man-made Global Warming Sceptic, Climate Change Believer, General Optimist but most of all proud Husband and Dad ...

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