“If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it would not seem so wonderful at all.” – Michelangelo
Although Michelangelo is known as one of the greatest artists the world has ever seen, he credits his creative success to hard work and discipline—the stuff that people don’t see. People tend to focus more on end results and often miss the process it takes to master a craft or succeed in a particular endeavour. Now I’m not saying that results shouldn’t matter, because they do. What I am saying is that the process in which you achieve results matter more.
For example, a student that takes short cuts by creating cheat notes for their exam can receive “good results” at the cost of properly learning the material. This process is counterintuitive compared to the student who takes the time to study and learn the content. Not only will the studious student receive better results, they will also develop qualities such as perseverance, discipline, and of course, integrity.
let’s look at some tips that can help us focus more on the process.
Change your Mindset
When Thomas Edison’s assistants asked him why he continued to persist trying to discover the long lasting filament for the lightbulb after failing thousands of times, he replied by saying he didn’t understand the question. In his mind, he never failed once; instead, he discovered thousands of ways that didn’t work.
Fun fact: It took Edison 9 thousand tries to perfect the lightbulb, according to Michael Michalko in his book Cracking Creativity.
Edison had what experts now call a “Growth Mindset.” The term was first coined by Carol Dweck, a psychology professor at Stanford University whose primary research focuses on motivation, personality, and development. In her research, she studies the contrast between two ways of thinking: Fixed Mindset vs Growth Mindset.
A person with a fixed mindset believes that their personal characteristics such as intelligence and talents are “fixed” or unchangeable human traits. They believe that some people have it and some people don’t, a mentality that sets limitations on their abilities and potential to succeed.
On the other hand, a person with a growth mindset understands that challenges are necessary for growth and improvement. Further, they also understand that failure is inevitable when trying something different or out of their comfort zone.
Although some people are naturally more gifted in certain disciplines than others, a person with a growth mindset understands that hard work, constructive feedback, and discipline takes precedence over talent.
“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan.”
Michael Jordan is recognized as one of the best, if not the best player to ever play the game of basketball, yet he was cut from his high school varsity team in his sophomore year, according to a Newsweek’s article on Jordan’s high school career.
This defeat could have been the end of his basketball journey, but he never gave up. Instead, he tried harder and came back stronger, but most importantly, he trusted the process. He understood that failure is inevitable, but what to do with failure was a choice that only he could’ve made.
Failure wasn’t Jordan’s enemy, it was his teacher. In the same way, we all have much to learn from failure. It builds our character as much as it tests our resilience. As Samuel Beckett once quoted, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”
Trust the Process
The Apostle Paul also understood the importance of process. In 1 Corinthians 9:26-27, he writes:
“Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”
Paul understood that at the end of his journey, a heavenly prize awaited him. This prize, this ultimate goal, was the culmination and end result of the faith he professed. But for him to get there, he had to focus on the present. He committed to hard work and self discipline, ensuring that his faith was reflected in the way he lived.
In other words, he had to trust the process. Becoming more like Jesus was life-long journey for him, one of great victories, and one of many defeats. But nonetheless, it was a process, a process that required a change of mindset and a willingness to embrace failure, trusting in God’s grace and power to carry him through, all the way to the end.
Similarly, process is essential for anything we do in life: school, work, sports, faith, you name it. The best results are achieved when you have the right mindset, when you are willing to fail and learn, and when you are willing persevere and trust the process.
But don’t take my word for it; many greats of the past also attested to this truth. Paul of Tarsus, Michael Jordan, and Michael Angelo are just a few. But let’s face it. You’ll never know until you experience it for yourself.