THE PLEASURE AND PAIN OF PROCESS
In his book “Eleven Rings” Phil Jackson, arguably the greatest coach in NBA history, gives a wonderful description of his approach to success.
“Being fixated on winning (or more likely, not losing) is counterproductive, especially when it causes you to lose control of your emotions. What’s more, obsessing about winning is a loser’s game: The most we can hope for is to create the best possible conditions for success, then let go of the outcome. The ride is a lot more fun that way.”
When Jackson talks about creating the conditions for success, he is ultimately talking about process. The day to day work that has to be done to improve. Whether it’s strategy, execution or people, it is about the process, or as they say, it’s about the journey.
The challenge is that process, involves both pleasure and pain.
There is nothing more enjoyable than moving closer to your goal. Being involved in work that is satisfying and productive. Ticking off the steps as you move closer to the destination. Perhaps doing it with a team of people you are really enjoying being with as you take the journey.
Just the feeling that we are getting better, improving in some small way can bring pure joy. We have all experienced the satisfaction of unearthing a new and better way of doing things. Finding an improvement in a way we didn’t think existed or even better, discovering that we can actually do something ourselves that we thought was impossible previously.
The feeling is wonderful, satisfying, fulfilling. BUT it is, as we know only one side of the coin.
I am reading two books at the moment. The first, “The Book of Joy” a one week discussion between the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu on finding lasting happiness in a changing world.
The second, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Mason, a counterintuitive approach to living a good life.
Now on the surface, these books might appear diametrically opposed, but surprisingly they regularly intersect on theme and content. One such intersection is their belief that nothing beautiful comes without suffering. That it is in fact the suffering that makes the achievement worthwhile.
Process is painful. Remember the failures, frustrations and hardships that you experience along the way. Things don’t always go to plan, we are consistently knocked down yet we are still required to continue. Even though, we face failure and criticism and ridicule we have to persevere. This is what process is…suffering. Sometimes we are tested in small manageable ways and sometimes there are major setbacks that test our physical, mental and spiritual strength.
What does this mean?
Essentially it comes down to two questions and Mark Manson makes them both well.
1. What pain are you prepared to suffer through?
If we have to focus on process rather than outcome and process is painful, what are we prepared to bear? Because we all have a limit. So, whether it is a simple goal on your fitness program or a lifetime career goal, there is always a point when you will ask yourself, do I stop here or do I keep going?
Which leads us to the second question.
2. Are you in love with the process?
Do you love what you are doing, despite the suffering? Are you happy to get up each day and face it with anticipation, perhaps even excitement, even if there could be disappointment and frustration…again? Because, if you are not in love with the process, you probably aren’t going to make it.
Now this doesn’t mean you are a hopeless failure it just means, this process, this work, is not for you. Finding what you do love, is as they say part of life’s journey.
The thing is, if you were to speak to any successful person, an artist, a sportsperson, someone who has excelled in business, they will all describe the challenges, yet underneath it all, is a love of what they do. The process.
What pain are you prepared to suffer through?
Are you in love with the process?