Here’s a thought and question to ponder, to feed your mind. Recently I saw a post on Facebook asking public opinions on which is more important for performance: Process or Result?
Naturally, a question like this will draw attention to vote for one or the other. When I paused and pondered on the question for a while, I thought that both process and result are very much inseparable. The question shouldn’t be which is more important, it should be which is more important to focus on? I also thought that result is the outcome of doing the right processes well. I joined the discussion and gave my two cents by commenting:
Results will take care of themselves when the right processes are done rightly. Here’s a Jim Rohn quote, “Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day; while failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day.”
After giving it more thought I’m convinced that focusing on processes is THE KEY to peak performance. In this blog post, I’ll elaborate more by using an example from my peak performance experience.
A Lesson From Conquering the Highest Mountain
I remember clearly the lesson I learned from climbing Mount Kinabalu four years ago. That was the first time my wife and I ever do mountain climbing, and Mount Kinabalu is the highest in the region where we live. We didn’t know what to expect apart from stories from friends who’ve done the climb and from my own research.
The journey was split into two days. Before the climb, I set a personal goal to reach the peak with my wife by sunrise on the second morning. Part of my preparation involved lots of physical training and getting advice from an Alexander Technique teacher from the UK, Roy Palmer, whose advice and teachings from his e-books benefited me greatly.
Based on the philosophy of Alexander Technique, I know that awareness (of self, environment and the challenge) would be most vital during the climb. To cut the long story short, I never focus on thoughts like “How long or how far more to climb to the peak?” but I disciplined my focus on my breathing, rhythm, movement and steps and soon I was in the Zone (moment of heightened awareness, as if time ‘stood still’ and every step was so effortless and a joy). I was fully aware of my physical and mental conditions and scheduled purposeful, regular short breaks. When we eventually arrived at the peak (it was still dark, before the sunrise), I was pleasantly surprised by how fast we reached our destination. Truth be told, I was kind of disappointed to break from the flow (one of the greatest feeling in the world) that I was in, but delighted to accomplish what we set out to do.
In future, I may write and give out an e-book on the details of what went through my mind during the climb and how I got into the Zone. For now, I just want to say that we got our results all right, but we were very much focused on our steps (processes) during the climb, not the destination (result). The bonus was, we arrived a little too early and had time to enjoy a little whiskey to keep ourselves warm at the peak, while watching the sun rising! I made a mental note to myself that day that formed one of my core beliefs, “Great success can be quite effortless, if you have awareness and focus on the right things: the fundamental steps“.
Actually, we went on this adventure with a group of friends and many of them were physically stronger than us. Before the climb, they said that they’d reach the peak at all cost; the gung-ho result-oriented mindset approach. I can still recall clearly, while on my way down from the peak, I saw them still climbing, puffing and huffing on their way up. By the time they reached the peak, the sun was already shining bright in its full glory.
This experience only reinforced my success philosophy that focuses on the fundamentals ie. steps and processes. I’ve other numerous similar experiences which I will write in future posts.
What do you think? What have your experiences taught you? Please share by leaving comments below.
I want to end this post with a famous classic story I read from a few sources:
A young man traveled many miles across to an Oriental land. He seek to learn from a legendary Sensei (teacher) in a famous martial art school there.
Upon arrival, the master asked the boy, “What do you wish from me?”
“I wish to be your student and become the finest martial artist in the land”, the young man replied. “How long must I study?”
“Ten years,” the master answered.
“Ten years is a long time,” said the boy. “What if I study twice as hard as all of your other students?”
“Then that will take you at least twenty years,” replied the master.
“Twenty years! What if I practice day and night with all my effort?”
“I didn’t realize the ferocity of your commitment. In that case, it’ll take no less than thirty years,” was the master’s reply.
“How is it that each time I say I will work harder, you tell me that it will take longer?” the young man asked.
“The answer is clear, when one eye is fixed upon your destination, there is only one eye left with which to find the way.”