Process vs. Outcome

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I cannot stand raking leaves.  There they are lying flat in my back yard cluttering my eyes and my great need for cleanliness.  Once you rake them you have to rake them again.  Then you think you have them all and suddenly they are back after being blown in from the neighbors yard.  Sometimes I want to do my neighbors leaves so that I do not have to face a job not fully completed.

The challenge with this line of thinking is that it is focused completely on the the outcome vs. the process.  The process of being outside, getting exercise and working toward a goal “ought” to be the focus.  The challenge for me is that I can get completely consumed with the outcome that I miss out on the process and the journey.

We do this in our professional lives too right?  We get consumed with the outcome.  Outcomes like reached sales goals, a prospect saying “yes,” that client deliverable and the completion of a speech.  Our desire to have a great outcome in and of itself is not a negative, yet when this becomes our focus we miss out on the joy of “flow” and the process of growth.

Flow in work is the time when you are consumed with the process that you feel so energized, so engaged and so strong that you lose track of time.  You can recall those moments right? Right now, as I right this I am experiencing flow.  I love to write and share ideas and thoughts with my readers.  The process is more enjoyable than the outcome.

Research has indicated that people do not feel nearly as satisfied upon completing a huge goal as they expect to feel.  Our expectations for what life will be like when we arrive pale in comparison to reality.  What does this tell us? It tells us that the journey can be very enjoyable if we allow it to be the case.  (Key word “allow”)

Here are a few suggestions for you as you consider the process vs. the outcome:

1.) What is your anxiety level? If it is very high, chances are you are overly concerned with the outcome vs. the process and the present moment.

2.) How distracted are you with clients, networking contacts and family? Do you find yourself looking at your phone and rushing back to your computer or iPhone?

3.) What does the word “present” mean to you? The present moment is your cause or your purpose. Engaging in anything other than the moment you are in takes you away from your cause.

4.) Who are people in your life that exemplify individuals with the gift of engaging in the moment?

5.) Does “flow” describe your current work state or is this a simple exception to the rule?

Consider this quote from Bahram Akradi founder of Life Time Fitness:

“Psychologists have found that what makes people truly satisfied and fulfilled is not so much the achievement of any particular outcome or station in life, but rather the experience of being fully engaged in pursuits that require every bit of their attention and skill.”

Gallup indicates that 70% of Americans are actively disengaged.  There are many reasons for this. Why not own what you can do about it and focus on being present in the next task that comes your way.

Now back to the leaves that are in my yard.  The process of raking, collecting, being outside in the cold air and the enjoyment of my kids in the process is my purpose at that moment.  It is not always about the outcome.