Trust the process

I am a huge fan of process, principle and relationships.  In fact, I am more than a fan.   I am the result (always in progress).

I wouldn’t be the man I am today if it wasn’t for the people who care about me, the process of training they have put me through, and the principles of the training I have received.  The other points we can discuss later… this is a post about process.

When people hear the word “process” they usually think in terms of static rules.  While to some degree this is true, I prefer to think about in terms of discipline.  Say I set a goal to lose 10 pounds.  I am afforded lots of approaches; low fat, low carbs, high protein, low calories, etc…  Regardless of which process I decide to follow, I have to take the appropriate steps to achieve it.  Sounds obvious enough, but it’s not.

Often the best process isn’t apparent up front.  In this case, I might not do well if I follow one plan over another.  You might not see the results you want, or it doesn’t fit with your life style.  Does that mean it doesn’t work at all?  No.  It just might not work for you.  Maybe you just didn’t work for it.  In some cases (not all), people have taken great effort to create the processes they would have you follow.  Don’t take that lightly.

Some people argue that process doesn’t work.  I disagree… good process has amazing results.  The problem is that most people aren’t willing to fail enough to allow it to succeed.  Instead of sticking with something long enough to really be able to speak to it, understand it and make an informed decision… they quit.  Usually they throw the baby out with the bath water too.  How common does, “I tried xyz programming style and it sucks” sound?  How many of those folks are really qualified to tell you why?

On the flip side there are process zealots.  I am not one of them.  For them, the issue is that they often get trapped in habit, useless things, and a general lack of questioning.  Instead of trying to learn and grow, they simply try and be more and more “pure” to the process.  If you don’t agree with them, you are an ignorant fool!  The problem, however, is that sometimes the process is wrong.  There is an important order of operation needed to use the rest room.  If you get that wrong, you will have issues.  Sometimes the process needs to change because what worked yesterday doesn’t work today.  (hopefully the bathroom process wont)  More often though, people just aren’t paying attention.  In Japan for instance, there was a group of people who imitated their teacher by dragging their jo (a Japanese weapon) on the ground.  They did this because their teacher did.  He also happened to be about 5 feet tall and he couldn’t NOT keep his jo off the floor.  His habit became their crutch.  They mistakenly took personal issue (or preference) and turned it into cultish rules.

Some folks believe that by being exposed to lots of processes they take all of the merits and none of the deficits.  While this sounds like a generally good idea… it’s also wrong.  If you never commit to something deep enough, how could you speak to it’s nature?  If I know lots of people, it doesn’t mean I know any of them well.  Nor does it mean that I know all about relationships.  All it means, is that you know a little bit about lots of people.

The process I follow is to have great faith tempered with great doubt.  If that sounds like a paradox… it’s because it is.  I have faith that the people who created C#, Javascript, Lisp, Java, Python, Perl, etc… were rather bright folks.  Because they are. The languages they created generally look at entirely different problem domains.  You shouldn’t, however, trust them entirely.  A part of being human is making mistakes.  They are human too.  You should instead chase down every decision they made and question it.  Most of the time you will only reveal your own ignorance… but every time you will take ownership.  You can lead yourself into great things.

Don’t sweat the small stuff.  My teacher says, “Don’t quit, don’t die, and don’t worry cuz nothing’s gunna be alright”.  On a similar vein, another teacher has once said, “It only takes about 10 years to become an overnight success”.  You are going to have lots of memory knots, make lots of mistakes, and screw up more than you succeed.  That’s a part of the process.  Trust it.

-A

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