Process vs. Outcome: Keys to Success
By: Dr. Yashar Khosroshahi, ND
Let’s cut to the chase — you need both process and outcome to be successful. For a sustainable and productive business you can’t ignore either of these metrics. However, this is only the start of the conversation.
Simply put, it is not enough to have a vision without a strategic plan, and at the same time a strategic plan without a vision is a road to nowhere. In MINDSHIFT terms, we teach clients how to hold both a micro and macro lens as they navigate the often turbulent waters of entrepreneurship and business. Applying both a micro and macro lens helps us understand the powerful relationship between process and outcome.
Success lies with anyone willing to create a system of behaviours, thoughts and actions that allow for both process and outcome metrics to work and thrive together. Success begins to take shape once you learn how to effectively shift your perspective from one to the other, and back again – that is doing better, by thinking better.
What the world doesn’t tell you — because it doesn’t know — is that you cannot become successful. You can only be successful. Don’t let a mad world tell you that success is anything other than a successful present moment. – Eckhart Tolle
What you focus on becomes your lens, and therefore your reality. From ancient philosophy texts to modern neuroscience, this is a shared appreciation of the human experience. So as Eckhart Tolle says, “success is only in the present moment”. We must start valuing and understanding how to cultivate our sense of the present moment to truly be successful.
The more we learn to develop this muscle of present awareness, the more a range of options become available to us. We no longer have to be held hostage by the narratives that we attach ourselves to. Narratives we commonly entertain run the gamut, from “I’m a failure”, to “I close every deal, no matter what!” – or any other reiteration of those same type of sentiments. We can let go of these unhelpful narratives once we become more present, because there is a new kind of strength that lives in the honesty of the present. That strength comes in the form of empowered choice. As we learn to be present, we learn to actively choose how we’d like to show up in the present, how we’d like to choose to develop ourselves in the present and therefore our businesses.
All empowered business processes, and then their subsequent outcomes, begin by learning how to focus on the present moment.
- What does success feel like to you?
- What is one thing you can do right now (think posture, breath, movement, food, phone call etc…) that would give you that feeling of success?
- How can you show up to your other tasks in the day expressing those feelings?
Connecting the Dots
You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life. – Steve Jobs
Conversations only centred around outcome are binary, anemic and dangerous. The answers to the questions asked about the outcome of a business venture or project in these type of conversations can often only be answered with a, “yes or no”, “good or bad”. Furthermore, if we are always maintaining focus on outcome alone, we tend to marginalize certain outcomes and only focus on what we deem to be the biggest wins and/or losses. This method often keeps us blind to the potential growth opportunities available to us.
By contrast, we can train ourselves to look for, and acknowledge, all outcomes, including even the smallest wins and losses. This can prove to be most beneficial because we are learning to connect the dots for each and every outcome back to the process that led us there. There is no sense in being overly sentimental over any outcome, whether you deem it to be positive or negative, if you aren’t willing to learn the trajectory of events that provided the end result. Outcome arrives by way of process. This is a basic, yet overlooked, truth about how the brain learns. The more carefully we allow ourselves to travel back and forth through these connections, the more promising our ability to reach insights, correct course, and reach our vision.
- Pick an outcome of a task, project or meeting that you were directly involved with recently.
- Did it go according to plan? If so, why do you believe it did? If not, why do you believe it didn’t?
- How would you like to show up to this task next time?
“Potential” is a Lonely Word
“Our potential is one thing. What we do with it is quite another.” – Angela Duckworth
The world is riddled with people who stop believing in their potential as soon as they hit the wall of their comfort zone. What the world has less examples of are people who find ways to endure and enjoy their work even when they are outside of their comfort zone.
There is a time in all entrepreneurial journeys when talent and excitement no longer seem to be walking next to us. This is where pure effort and mindset take over. The process of accomplishing a goal, any goal, is where we gain self-awareness and personal accountability. It’s the commitment to the very personal side of our professional path that very permanently changes our way of looking at ourselves, our excuses, our accomplishments and the world around us.
As entrepreneurs and business leaders, we have to be able to tell ourselves a love story about the work we are doing. What I mean is, for great people to great work, they need to be able to love the process as much as, and perhaps even more sometimes, than the outcomes alone. At the same time, we must be willing to bare the responsibility of all outcomes and the various plot twists that accompany the journey.
It is not enough to have the potential for greatness. Just as it is not enough to have the belief of greatness, alone. Greatness is born when we are willing to look the sobering truth of our work, our craft, in the eye and still make love to the process and outcomes that accompany it.
- Why do you do the work that you do?
- What is the love story you tell yourself about this work?
- When do you most need to remind yourself of this story?
- How can you make sure that your love story holds a permanent space in your awareness?
We hold the keys to success within us when we are willing to be present, connect all the dots and put potential to work. We must learn to hold the micro lens of process, alongside of the macro lens of outcome to do better, by thinking better.