What is "The Process"?

The term "the process" gets thrown out as a motivational tool often for players and teams.  You've got phrases like: Trust the Process, Love the Process, Respect the Process.  They all refer to the time period of time that it takes to get better at whatever your craft is.  I like the term and what it stands for, but I think that teams and individuals sometimes use it without taking the time to go deep enough into what it actually means to focus on "the process."

The process is essentially learning how to view your progress one day at a time.  When an individual athlete or a team can take this approach, they can increase their focus and perform better when the moment is more pressurized. They know that today is just another day to do the same thing as they have done every day, which is to get just a little bit better than the day before.  It seems simple and straightforward, but I can assure you that it takes a lot of effort and attention to follow this road.  It asks you to forget about winning and losing, forget about past mistakes or possible adversity in the future, and to stop obsessing about the outcome of your work over a long period of time.  Not an easy task for those who have a clear vision of what they want to be someday.

The absolute best ways to obtain this process focus are to set clear process goals and shift your focus from outcome to progress.  Goals have been used for years and years but, believe it or not, a lot of people use them the wrong way.  Of course it's important to have dreams and aspirations for what you want your life to look like or what you want your team to look like.  Those will give you the destination that everyone desperately needs.  The way you reach that destination is by setting process goals along the way that give a push in the right direction.  Where do I/we need to be by the end of this month? By the end of this week? By the end of this day?  Step two is training your mind to put outcome after progress.  This means you have to develop you or your team's standard of improvement and operate based on that.  Yes you may have lost or failed, but did you improve?  Is there anything you learned from the experience?  This is all related to defining success by your own standards.

This is a time where fall sports are nearly over, and the winter sports season will soon be upon us.  There's no better time to talk about the process than right now, since some teams are starting that journey while others are waiting to see how their journey will end up.  Focusing on the process and day to day functions is the best way that teams can live in the "present moment."  Individuals can narrow that present moment down even more, but I'll talk about that more in the future.  I recently had the opportunity to speak to a team the day before their championship.  Just to be asked to speak was an honor in itself; to know that something I say may contribute to the success of a team (as opposed to screwing them up).  Without working or speaking with the team at any other time, most of what I said related back to what I know really works: the process.  I knew it was the right thing to do because they had that championship look like it was all going to be left out there, win or lose. It's important to reflect on your journey and the work you've put in in the long run, but when you get to that situation where you've only got one day left to perform, you might as well approach it with the same focused intensity you had on day one.  So if you are an athlete or coach people will tell you to trust the process, love the process, etc.  I think we should attack the day just everything else in sports and try to do it to the best of your ability, to become a champion of the process.


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