Justin Ricklefs


The Boring Basics

Our senile old dog started barking at 3:50am on Sunday morning.

“Are you f’ing serious…” I think I mumbled, half-asleep.

This is after I knew Brooke had been up with him at 1:00am. That one I pretended to sleep through, bless her heart.

But this time, I knew it was my turn.

Like the newborn rotation we went through five different times, to five varying degrees.

The mind is a funny thing. I got up. Let the dog out so he could wander around aimlessly for a few minutes, and I stared at the microwave clock while I waited.


In that moment, I instantly remembered the details of a book I’m listening to, one in which the author told a Kobe Bryant story.

I’m always in for one of those.

I remembered our college days when our best friend group would argue, the great debate at the time in Kobe’s prime.

MJ or Mamba?

I was always Team MJ, but Kobe made a strong case, especially while he was still playing.

The story in the book goes that some poor journalist wanted to witness Kobe’s private workouts.

Kobe said sure. Meet me at the gym at 4:00.

In the morning.

The bleary-eyed reporter rolled in a few minutes early, probably 3:53am. And Kobe was already in a full sweat. Warming up for his own workout.

At some point in that exchange, the fella asked Kobe, “don’t these workouts get boring to you? They seem pretty focused on just the fundamentals?”

Kobe must have burned a hole in the poor guy with his gaze.

“I never get bored with the basics. They’re what make me great.”

There’s some massive temptation, at least for me, to move beyond the basics. In whatever area of life.

And it displays itself in experience after experience, that proves the basics hold the keys to growth.

We don’t struggle so much with the head knowledge of what we “should” do, but we certainly struggle in the execution of the practices we know will help us. At least I do.

And yet, we look for some shortcut, secret, or suggestion to distract and help us avoid doing the boring, basic work that will build, strengthen, and grow something new in the midst of it.

Want to write a book? Get great at writing paragraphs. And keep writing them every single day.

Want to lose 30 pounds? Move your body, eat good food. Do that for a bunch of boring days in a row.

Want to invest a million dollars? Commit to a budget that gives every 100 dollars a home and some accountability.

Want to sleep better without so much anxiety tearing through you? Breathe deeply for five minutes every morning.

Want to lessen your judgments, lower your defensiveness, and build connection in relationship? Scribble all that toxic energy out in a journal every day so it doesn’t eat you alive and consume your relationships in the process.

The list goes on infinitely for each of us.

The dog wandered back to the back door. 3:57am.

I wandered back to sleep. Thinking, “man, this is when Kobe would be putting in his work.”

The boring basics. Every damn day.

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