Is your career process driven? Do you feel that you’re not even the one driving your career?
Perhaps you feel more like a passenger sometimes? I know the feeling of ‘being a passenger’ for sure. I once felt like my career was out of my control. That feeling was the catalyst for my moving towards a career path that was process driven. I’ve been living this way for several years now and I’ll never change. Here is why I advocate for adopting a process driven approach to your career:
- Motivation is highly overrated, and unsustainable on its own
Motivation is like caffeine. A short burst of energy, that isn’t sustainable on its own (without more caffeine), followed by a downer that leaves you with less energy than you had before. The worst part about it is that, in most cases, it comes from an external source. We get motivated because of something we hear, see, want, need, experience – but it comes as a result of stimulus. It doesn’t take place automatically.
- Any goal is achievable if you chunk it down to its smallest parts and then attack one chunk at a time.
Have you ever heard the silly quote about “how to eat an elephant – one bite at a time?” There is actually profound wisdom in this concept. Any goal is achievable, no matter how large, if you chunk it down. I learned this by writing my book Unsuited. Many people are intimidated by the process of writing a book; however, being process driven I found it to be quite easy. All I had to do was write 350 words each day, and in 186 days I was done. 350 words generally took me a couple of hours to finish. So a couple of hours a day, for just over 5 months, and my book was done. Being process driven makes the approach very achievable.
- Being process driven allows us to detach from our emotions.
Our emotions are often the biggest impediment to our achievement (whether we realize it or not). Being emotionally driven, I’ve found, can be a huge liability. Emotions are the drivers of the motivational world. In the achievement world I’ve found that the more scientific I can be, the more data driven I can live, the better my results are. It mirrors the methodology in the Lean Start Up model by Eric Reis – build, measure, learn. It is exactly in line with a process driven mindset.
Being process driven allows you to detach from your emotions. You are seeking data. You are performing small-chunked actions each day, and then you measure to see if you are moving closer to your goal. If you aren’t moving closer then you choose new small-chunked actions. If you are – then you stay the course. There is no discouragement, there is never a need to vent, and there is no victimization mindset. There is only data and process.
- Change doesn’t happen overnight. It is always the result of the culmination of a whole bunch of tiny steps.
This concept has been studied over and over again in the performance literature world. Change is slow. It is compounding. It is incremental. However, when you are process driven, you see this as a massive opportunity. You realize the leverage you have on yourself if you will just focus on getting tiny daily victories, and how these victories will compound and pay off over time, like the doubling of a penny sustained. When we focus on process, the results just happen.
David Brailsford – one of the UK’s top sports performance minds, who was instrumental in helping the British cycling team compile 14 medals in the Beijing games, had a philosophy called “the aggregation of marginal gains”. In essence it is the same as the process approach I am advocating for. The overall effect of a 1% performance gain each day is astounding when you follow the numbers over time.
- It is really easy to get discouraged when you are only focusing on what you don’t have
I really believe in the concept of detachment. It works in goal achievement. The more tightly I seem to grasp at things the easier they are to fall out of my hands. However, then I detach, when I just focus on process and completing my daily chunks it is remarkable how my goals seem to be fulfilled. Detaching from a goal doesn’t mean that you don’t want it. It just means that you are directing your focus to what is in front of you – what you can do – instead of what you don’t have and what you want. You are being present in everything you do. This is the foundation of being process driven. Focusing on what I can control. When I focus on what I want, and what I don’t yet have, it is really easy (I have found) to get discouraged and impatient. None of this happens when I’m process driven.
- Process driven works – plain and simple
Perhaps the biggest reason why I choose to be process driven is that it works. It is far more effective in achievement than getting on the roller coaster of motivation and needing to keeping paying for the ride. Being process driven gets results.