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Start with the Basics

The other day I am at the club getting ready to go work out. I am standing in the row of lockers talking to another guy. I hear a couple of kids come in behind me, but don’t turn around. It is obvious from their conversation that they are about five and three years old and they are going to go swimming.

Suddenly the older boy says to the younger one in a scolding voice, “Joey, you have to take your shoes off before you take your pants off.” I turn around and there is this three year old sitting on the ground, trying to take his pants off over these huge waffle-stomper boots!

The guy I was talking to said, “That is good basic life instruction!” I said, “I’m gonna use that for an article someday.”

Indeed: Always take your shoes off before you take your pants off. It made me think about how we often try to get so sophisticated in our quest for success and personal growth but isn’t it really true that all success begins with the basics? In fact, perhaps the struggles we have are because we have gotten away from the basics. With that in mind I gave some thought this week to the basics in a few areas. Here they are.


  • Always produce a good product
  • Be honest
  • Under-promise and over-deliver
  • Help people and money will come
  • Pay your people well


  • Put them first as they will be with you last
  • Treat your spouse like they are the most important person in the world – they are!
  • Give your kids more time than even you think that you should
  • Be sure to discipline your kids – they need boundaries
  • Take the time to create family memories
  • Travel as far and spend as much money as you need to to make it home for special occasions – in the long run you’ll be glad you did


  • Treat people the way you want to be treated
  • Don’t speak ill of others
  • Always help if you can when others are in need
  • Find ways to make others feel special
  • Always tell others what you like or appreciate about them


  • Significantly lower your intake of “junk”
  • Exercise more, even if it is just a short daily walk
  • Drop the bad habits, like alcohol and cigarettes
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables


  • Eliminate debt – be ruthless about this
  • Take a look at where you are currently spending
  • Tighten up on (or cut out) the loose stuff in your budget
  • Save some money each month
  • Give some money away to charity each month


  • Pray regularly
  • Trust God, even when it seems hard
  • Live what you say you believe
  • Get involved in a community of faith


  • Take an inventory of your emotional health
  • Work to control extremes in any emotion (emotions are good when they help to feel what we are supposed to feel, but destructive when they get to extremes)
  • Allow yourself to feel emotions you have suppressed

Chris Widener, is a successful businessman, author, speaker and television host. He has authored over 450 articles and nine books, including a New York Times and Wall Street Journal Best-seller. He has produced over 85 CDs and DVDs on leadership, motivation and success.

Copyright © 2017 Chris Widener. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. www.ChrisWidener.com