Trusting the Process: Why Success Doesn’t Happen OvernightApr 20, 2023
Trust the process.
Something I’ve said, directly or indirectly, to almost every coaching client I’ve ever had. From the early days of outdoor personal training, right through to the current hot topics of moving forward after your 27th job application rejection.
Something I’ve said to myself a thousand times. When leaving the police with no plan other than to try and put myself back together, when leaving my first post-police career two years later to pursue my own path, when I had no clients and empty event spaces, when rewriting courses at 2am.
Something that is probably quite annoying to hear sometimes. Why can’t we guarantee that success will happen quickly and smoothly? Well, without getting too philosophical about the idea that it wouldn’t feel like success if it did, let’s just simply say: it doesn’t work like that.
I wrote about this concept way back in 2017, because I’d been following NBA basketball rising star Joel Embiid, who’d nicknamed himself “The Process”. Bold. Let’s see how he’s been doing.
"Success is the result of small, consistent, boring pieces of hard work"
The first piece of context is that, due to injury, Joel had only really played for two seasons out of his first five across college and professional basketball. Not brilliant when the weight of expectation (and investment) was so high.
Today? At the time of writing, he’s just won a second consecutive NBA scoring title, and probably should be the season’s MVP. He’s in with a decent chance of winning the championship and restoring some glory to Philadelphia. Hard to disagree with his self-confidence that his process would work out, however unlikely it might have looked at times along the way.
Oh, and he signed a contract in 2021 worth $196 million over four years.
The titles, big-money contracts and highlight reels are easy to find and easy to celebrate. There’s an endless appetite for that in the modern sports-entertainment hybrid. Sadly, success (even “overnight success”) is in fact the result of small, consistent and boring pieces of hard work, dusting yourself off after setbacks, learning from feedback, asking for help and sometimes good old trial and error. None of which looks good on Instagram or gets high ratings on TV.
Leave “overnight” for oats and trains, and re-attach success to the process.
How do I know it will work out?
The process is all there is, really, because “success” is about constantly adapting your route and your actions ever-so-slightly in considered response to your environment. I’m happy to recommend many Stoic philosophy books or existentialists if you’d like to explore that in deeper, chin-scratching ways, but what I do know is that you’ve got through 100% of your challenging days so far. Bruised, tired, drained maybe – but with learning and progress.
Ask yourself what it is that you’d really like to change or improve in your life, career, relationship, fitness or whatever. It isn’t something you’re going to achieve by tomorrow, is it?
If it is, aim higher.
You have the skills, experience, and willpower to get there. Trust me, you do. You could enlist Mightify services to add expert coaching, accountability, and a community of peer support to make that brew even more potent and increase the pace and probability of success.
Focus on what you can control at each turn, and use your values and strengths to make the right decision with what information you have at hand.
It might take years, it might take weeks, it doesn’t matter. It will happen. If you’ve done the work to understand why you want it and why it’s going to bring you happiness, fulfilment, or wheelbarrows of cash when you get there, then it will be worth it because it will be aligned with your values, meaning, purpose, fulfilment – you choose the end result, but you can’t cheat the process.
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