"Trust the process" is a phrase that is often heard in the coaching and counseling profession and one I resonated with immediately. It is defined in a variety of ways but for me, it means that once I’ve put together a plan or strategy and done my best to execute it, that even in the event of unexpected results I know that there is learning in that moment that will help me to reach my desired outcome.
You might think that this concept would be most widely associated with the “woo woo” world of spiritual growth. I thought that as well – until I “googled” it. To my surprise, the majority of articles that came up were related to sports! And I was most excited to see my beloved “Cubbies” and their fearless leader Joe Maddon reference it in their 2016 World Series victory. Plus, there are tons of quotes from successful athletes that talk about how success is the intersection of “preparation and opportunity”. That’s a tenet of “trust the process”.
It totally makes sense that focusing on the overall process and not just winning and losing as the ultimate outcome for success is a great way to achieve a long term or even a short-term goal. This is what helps athletes come back after a slump or teams adopt a multi-year approach to successful championships.
Most victories in life are rarely a straightforward path – nor do things happen overnight. It is a journey that involves twists and turns and unplanned obstacles and how we respond to them and what we learn is a key factor in reaching our goals.
And there are no better examples than in the pathway to college, especially when it comes to college acceptances.
Once you’ve developed your plan, prepared for every aspect, and know and trust you’ve done your absolute best, and pressed “submit” on the application, “trusting the process” helps you to know that what happens next is out of your control. This can minimize the anxiety, stress and disappointment from being deferred, wait-listed or even denied and know that this is but a small part in the overall journey. That this unforeseen “twist” could lead to choosing a college that turns out to be the perfect one you wouldn’t have researched more closely or even ultimately chosen if this hadn’t happened.
One only need read Frank Bruni's 2015 bestseller to hear many stories from students who thrived at their 2nd or 3rd choices. I wish I had a dollar for every student I’ve met that has told me that the college they are currently attending wasn’t their first choice and they “can’t imagine going anywhere else”.
As we begin a new year, I wonder what it would be like if we applied this foundation as part of how we approached all of our goals? Identifying the outcomes we want to achieve and also trusting that the victories and defeats we experience are part of the overall process and provide us with the awareness and freedom to use what we learn from these experiences in any way we choose?
Like not getting the lead in the school play and turning that into a love of improv. Or dropping an AP class that frees up time for an internship. Or using that low SAT score to find a test-optional college that may not have otherwise been on your radar.
Or winning the World Series after 108 years!