Brilliant at the Basics

When Vince Lombardi took over as coach of the Green Bay Packers football team in 1958, one of the first questions the local press asked him was, “What are you going to change to turn this team around after a string of failures and losing seasons?” His reply provided a window into the process of how to be successful when faced with a challenging situation.

Lombardi’s response was: “I am not going to change anything. We will use the same players, the same plays and the same training system. But we will concentrate on becoming brilliant at the basics.” In nine seasons his Green Bay Packers won five NFL Championships and two Super Bowls.” (see Being Brilliant at the Basics, by Rick McCormick)

This same principle of “Being Brilliant at the Basics” applies to preparing for a mission.

  • The players = missionaries.
  • The plays = principles of the gospel.
  • Training System = parents, leaders, mission president, personal revelation, obeying the commandments.

Challenge: Concentrate on 3 Gospel Basics

My challenge to you is to pick three things you will do that will prepare you in the gospel basics for your mission. These three goals could be in any of these areas: physical, social, mental, emotional, or spiritual preparation. Don’t just pick the easiest ones. Choose three things that will build, strengthen, and change you for the better. Decide on something that is measurable so that you can do it with exactness. You’ll be glad you did!

Here are a few ideas:

  • 15 minutes studying the Scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon.
  • Morning & Evening Prayer
  • Exercise for 30 minutes a day
  • Take time every day to listen to a friend.
  • Start up a conversation with a stranger (if you tend to be a quiet or shy person. This would be great -practice for a mission.)
  • Save a pre-determined amount of $$ out of every paycheck. Or, if you don’t have a job, find a way to help earn money for your mission.
  • Be on time for meetings and activities.
  • Memorize scriptures and study the Preach My Gospel handbook.
  • Be worthy of the priesthood.
  • Do your own laundry for one month.
  • Cook dinner once a week for your family.
  • Do something everyday that you don’t want to do, so that you can learn self-discipline.
  • Have good grooming and cleanliness habits. Begin observing missionary grooming standards such as hair length and proper dress.

(Note: Some of these ideas were gleaned from, Preparing for a Mission.)

PRECISION – not Perfection

“Live … so that you’re brilliant in the basics… You think in terms of precision, not perfection.” (Julie B. Beck, Aug 2009, CES Training).

Remember, you’re aiming for PRECISION :

pre·ci·sion : pri-ˈsi-zhən : noun

the quality or state of being precise : exactness

Don’t Get Discouraged

Don’t get discouraged if you miss a day on your “Brilliant at the Basics” goals. Pick yourself back up and Carry on! Once again, you’ll be glad you did! One of President Gordon B. Hinckley’s favorite sayings was this: “Keep trying. Be believing. Be happy. Don’t get discouraged.” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “President Gordon B. Hinckley,” Ensign, June 1995, p. 4.)


Why should you make efforts to be brilliant at the basics of the gospel? You want to know the gospel, not just the missionary lessons. Elder M. Russel Ballard explains:

“We need you. Like Helaman’s 2,000 stripling warriors, you also are the spirit sons of God, and you too can be endowed with power to build up and defend His kingdom. We need you to make sacred covenants, just as they did. We need you to be meticulously obedient and faithful, just as they were. …

“Listen to [these] words, my young brethren: valiant, courage, strength, active, true. We don’t need spiritually weak and semicommitted young men. We don’t need you to just fill a position; we need your whole heart and soul. We need vibrant, thinking, passionate missionaries who know how to listen to and respond to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit. This isn’t a time for spiritual weaklings. We cannot send you on a mission to be reactivated, reformed, or to receive a testimony. We just don’t have time for that. We need you to be filled with “faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God” (D&C 4:5). – Elder Ballard – Gen Conf Oct 2002 – Priesthood Session


If you’re ready to take this challenge, please leave a comment about what you picked. Then, in a few months, check back in with us and let us know how it’s going and how being “brilliant at the basics” has helped you in your mission preparation. “Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory!” D&C 128:22

2 replies
  1. Amy DeMordaunt
    Amy DeMordaunt says:

    One thing I noticed is that several of these suggestions are part of the current (soon to be former!) Duty to God program and are excellent preparation for missionary duties and work. Great quotes used, too.


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