The London Marathon had banners on every mile marker. The 18th mile marker had a now funny quote: “Why the hell am I here, why did I not burn that damn sign-up form?”. There are times where, beyond your commitment to your goals, everything looks insurmountable. My marathon trainer used to say “focus your attention on that signpost 150 yards ahead, all you need to do is get to it, then you’ll know what to do next.”
Process versus Outcome
The question underpinning Fred’s LinkedIn post (Class of 2013: Find Your Spiritual Harness) is “OK, so how do you stay focused on the process, when there is so much at stake, when you are terribly invested in the outcome?”
Working with senior leaders and teams around the world I get this and other challenges. For example, “You don’t have a (heartless) boss that beleaguers you throughout the day (and night) …”; the examples go on. As Fred also said in one of the previous posts, what life brings to you as a “gift” is not as relevant as what you choose to do about it. So what is the most powerful way to respond?
Often these dialogues move into process versus product tension, the apparent contradiction that you face when it seems you have to make a choice between the two. Is there a way to integrate the seeming contradiction at a higher order? In my experience there is.
I had enough times in my life when I happened to be part of a team, playing soccer, running or biking, when we were doing really, really well. Time slowed down, everything ran in slow motion, I could literally anticipate every movement of the system, of the game. There was a “knowing” of its members, interdependencies and connections. These moments of extraordinary awareness offer enough proof to me that the polarity is not only an illusion but that there is a virtuous connection between process and product, as long as you can stay present and aware.
If you play tennis, picture yourself hitting the ball graciously, with total attention to that sweet spot of impact, then releasing the arm (and the shot), and the expectation because you have done the best you could. Or making an impeccable turn when skiing down a very steep slope. Process feeds forward into the outcome in a virtuous cycle.
Dissolving the Paradox
As you focus more and more on process and learn to release the outcome, as you focus on your moment by moment behaviors on which you have high leverage, the probability of achieving your goal (outcome) increases tenfold. By letting go of goal attachment, you unleash energies hidden deep inside yourself, maximizing chances of accomplishing what you want.
Strange and unlikely? Yet , anyone that has experienced any of the above circumstances will tell you how obvious all this is!
At the same time it does take commitment to practice. The good news is it is not more difficult than golf; the bad news is it is not easier than golf. As anything meaningful, it takes, in our experience 10% “inspiration” and 90% “perspiration”. Practice needs a healthy balance of unconditional support and loving challenge; someone or something that can take you to the brink of failure, expanding your coping capacity.
This is Conscious Business at work.
Note: Axialent works with leaders, teams and organizations around the world providing concrete methodologies and frameworks that enable them to walk the path of integration of process and outcome with awareness.
About the author
Richi is Axialent’s Managing Director and Chief Culture Officer. He is a seasoned executive with more than 20 years in global organizations and extensive experience in leadership development, organizational effectiveness, and the corporate world. Read more>