The Power of Process

Process is a vital tool for success in business and life. Many organizations, businesses, sports teams, and others have adopted the catchphrase “trust the process.” What exactly does this mean? It has to do with perseverance and stick-to-itiveness.

When former NBA star Kobe Bryant injured his finger during his third pro season, it altered his shot. He wasn’t shooting as well as he used to. So, what did he do? During the offseason, he took 100,000 made shots. To clarify, that wasn’t the total number of shots taken, Kobe only counted the ones that went in. Because of this strict practice regimen – the process-, Kobe’s shooting percentage improved from the previous season and he ended up leading the Los Angeles Lakers to a Championship.

The “trust the process” mantra first gained popularity when it was used as the motto of the Philadelphia 76ers NBA team. In 2013, Sam Hinkie, the Sixers’ then-General Manager and President of Basketball Operations, was accused of “tanking,” or intentionally losing to get a high draft pick. The accusations were valid as the Sixers had one of the longest losing streaks in NBA history at the time.

Hinke put the Sixers in full-scale rebuilding mode. Hinke’s “process” involved critical trades, a key coaching hire, and drafting star 7-foot center Joel Embiid in the 2014 draft. (Embiid’s nickname became “The Process”) It would be a few more seasons after Hinke coined the term before the Sixers’ started winning more games and making the playoffs. In 2017-18 they posted their best season record in nearly 20 years. At the time of this writing, the Sixers are in the playoffs again after another stellar season. The process worked.

Trusting the process is all about sticking to a long-term plan in the face of adversity and short-term obstacles. Kobe knew that if he worked harder and smarter in the offseason, homing in on the problem – his lowered shooting percentage – and working extremely hard to improve it would get him the results he desired. It wasn’t fun or easy. But it worked.

When boxing great Muhammad Ali was asked if he enjoyed training, he said: “I hated every minute of training, but I said to myself, ‘Don’t quit, suffer now, and live the rest of your life as a champion.’”

Ali worked so hard in the gym that when the bell rang for a grueling 15-round fight he had the strength, conditioning, and mental toughness acquired from training to push through and achieve his goal of winning.

Perseverance requires tenacity and the drive to push through to your goal when the going gets tough. Success in business often has more to do with an individual’s perseverance than it does their natural talents and abilities. That’s not to suggest that talent doesn’t matter; it will just only go so far without hard work and sacrifice. Doing the small things over and over again – like how Kobe did with his basketball shot – is what leads to greatness.

Success in business is never easy. Business leaders often fail many times before they achieve real success. The important thing is that when you do fail, you don’t give up. Instead, you learn from the failure and press on toward your goal.

Obstacles and setbacks should be seen as opportunities for growth and development. Failures create opportunities to rethink our path, possibly leading to something even greater than we first envisioned. Our accomplishments in business rarely have to do with simply who we are or the talents we possess. It’s much more about trusting the process, persevering, and putting in the hard work so that we can achieve our dreams.