Whatever task you are undertaking at your job, I believe it is critical to know the fundamentals. This couldn’t be better exemplified than with nondestructive testing. This concept revolves around making the world a safer place. Whether it’s a car I drive in, an airplane I am on or a bridge I may need to cross, they all at some point need to be inspected by an NDT professional and I want to know that I’m safe.

Having an understanding of the core fundamentals in your profession will allow you to compete and be successful. Without mastering the essentials, you’ll never be able to grow professionally.

You have the potential to either fail or succeed based on your fundamentals groundwork. For example, if you have a weak base, then despite how great the overlaying structure is, it is bound to topple down at some point. If the base is strong, then no matter what, your structure will still be standing tall.

When you look at the top performers in sports, you’ll notice it’s the athletes who have successfully mastered the fundamentals of their chosen sport. They make it look effortless as if you could do it. That’s the mark of someone who is on his or her game (literally).

Years ago, when I used to play basketball, I put lots of work into building the proper base - eating right, working out, lifting weights and generally learning the ins and outs of the game. This was essential for me to optimize my sports performance and to cultivate my talent. And it paid off. The harder I worked, the more successful I became.

I recall trying to gain inches on my vertical and all the hard work that ensued. After consistently training on a regular basis to strengthen my legs, I was finally able to jump higher. Without the fundamentals, it would have been impossible.

Take a look at Michael Jordan. He was not a star basketball player in the beginning. He didn’t even make his high school varsity team. It took hours and hours of practice on the side to conquer the fundamentals of the game. Eventually he was able to master the basics, which led him on the path to master the how-to.

Once you have the fundamentals in place, it’s important to take a look at how to do it. That’s what makes us succeed in our chosen paths.

If you’re just starting out in the field, this is a great opportunity to learn the basics so that you can gain a stronger sense of understanding and have a foundation that you can build on. When it comes time to learn new skills, a firm grasp on the fundamentals will make things less complex.

On the other hand, if you’re a seasoned technician, maybe this is the time to revisit the fundamentals of your profession. As Michael Jordan once said, “You have to monitor your fundamentals constantly because the only thing that changes will be your attention to them. The fundamentals will never change.” So take time this month to reflect on what you already know and how you can sharpen your skills. Also, invest in learning a new skill. Perhaps this month’s section has something to offer you.

In this special edition of NDT, we focus on the fundamentals of nondestructive testing so that you don’t have to go back to your old textbooks, or search the Internet if you’re anything like me. Instead, you can use the handbook to brush up on your daily reference needs or perhaps to learn a new skill. Either way, it is a great resource that covers several types of NDT techniques and the necessary equipment.

I encourage all of you to jump higher!