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Which of These People is More Like You?

Hey!  I hope you’re having a great day!

This past week was interesting because I had a few more opportunities than usual to share stories with people about things I’ve been through, been able to overcome and been able to accomplish.  I was around a number of people who needed to hear an encouraging story and it was nice to revisit a few memories that I don’t often think about unless I’m in that type of situation.

Often times when I do this I get reminded of how many steps had to occur for me to get to the desired outcome and what the entire process was like that led me there.

A great illustration of this is with the example that most of us can relate to of going through school. School is made up of dozens of different classes with dozens of different teachers.  Each class has its own books, assignments and tests.  Each time we read our textbook we are going through page by page learning one concept at a time and slowly putting the pieces together to understand the subject.

When we grasp one topic we may do an assignment that allows us to show how well we can apply the information we’ve learned.  When we take a test, we get to display our remembrance and comprehension of the information we’ve been learning.

Even in just one class we will have possibly hundreds of pages to read in a book, dozens of topics to learn, many assignments to complete and many tests to take.  When all those things are added together we get a cumulative grade showing how well we did in the class and when all our grades are turned in we can qualify for a degree.

For many of us, going through school is all about the end product- the grades and the degree.

For others of us, school is all about the process- the reading, the learning, the mastering of the topics, the personal development and the individual smaller achievements along the way.

Is either way of thinking right?  Is either way wrong?

With this illustration in mind, think of a situation in your life that you are trying to make a change to.

Maybe it’s health related like trying to lose weight, eat better, recover from an ailment or injury, get more energy or improve some other aspect of your body.

Maybe its a relationship situation like trying to get closer to a parent, sibling, child or spouse.

Maybe its something completely different.

Whatever it is, take a moment and think about whether you are seeing it as a product person or as a process person.

As a product person you are completely focused on the end result and you want to get there as quickly as possible.  You look forward to the situation being finished so you can move on to other things.  You want change and are willing to put work into it, however if at any point you feel as though the product is not soon to be attained, or the work is too great to get there, you may quit or, if you must, continue in frustration.  As a product person you will often settle for a lesser version of the once desired product, just so you can get the process itself over with.  Patience, diligence and consistency are challenges for you as a product person and you get discouraged easily by setbacks.

As a process person you are completely focused on the individual steps necessary to move closer to the end product.  You value the individual achievement of each small successive step and the change that occurs in you as a result of taking it.  You are more focused on who you become, what you learn and what changes occur in you and your life during the process than just the end product itself.  You take setbacks in stride and analyze them to learn what to do better or different next time.  You are difficult to discourage because you know that all good things take time, effort and consistency and you are patient to see things through.

If we are completely honest with ourselves I’m sure we’d admit that we are at least in part a product person.  It’s human nature to want things that are quick, easy, painless and effortless and it’s easy to get discouraged if they are not.  It’s easy to let our mind focus on the end goal rather than on the process to get to it.  Thinking otherwise goes against a basic human trait that we all have.

But does that mean that we should let ourselves stay that way?

In this day and age we live in a world of ultimate convenience where, because of technology, we can do virtually anything quickly and easily.  Being that is the case it is very hard to shift our thinking to the process of things when it comes to improving certain aspects of our life, our health, our relationships or anything that we can’t control with buttons or have fixed with a single phone call.

One conversation about this topic that really stuck with me was with Tony Watson, the Pittsburgh Pirates All Star relief pitcher.  Tony and I worked together for about 4 months in the last off season and I got to know him well.  He is extremely successful as a baseball player but also has a great marriage and has made that a priority as well.

I asked him one day- “what’s your favorite part of being a professional baseball player?  Is it playing for huge crowds cheering for you?  Is it the multi-million dollar salary?  Is it seeing yourself on highlight reels?  Is it winning the big game?”

His response will go down as one of the best pieces of wisdom that applies to every part of life that I’ve ever gotten from anyone.

He said “my favorite part is the preparation and the training.”

I then asked him why that was his favorite part.  He said “because without that none of those other things would happen.”

Talk about a process person!

I know that finding enjoyment in the process of things is not something that comes naturally to most of us but what if we began to focus on the process so much that each step and each little accomplishment became exciting?

If we have a health goal, for instance, what if we got excited over completing the exercise, eating each meal the right way, getting enough rest each day and so on?  In other words- what if the process became the focus instead of the product?  How would that change things?  Do you think that would make achieving those goals easier?  Do you think that you’d still get discouraged as easily?

These are questions that we will all have our own perspective on.  I invite you to interact and respond to this email with your thoughts about this topic.  Do you agree?  Do you disagree?  Can you take anything useful away from this?  Do you know anyone else who embodies either type of person?  Why do you think so?

I’d love to hear.




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