“The thing that drives me and my colleagues … is that you see something very compelling to you, and you don’t quite know how to get it, but you know, sometimes intuitively, it’s within your grasp. And it’s worth putting in years of your life to make it come into existence.”
The Houston Astros recently won the 2017 World Series in Los Angeles. That was their first pennant in their franchise’s history. It wasn’t long ago, and I remember, that they weren’t a particularly inspiring team on the field.
From 2009 thru 2014 they had a losing record, and out of three of those six years, 2011–2013, they lost over a hundred damn games. They lost 111 games in 2013. That was the worst record in the MLB that season. But even so, just four measly years later, they won it all in 2017 and in riveting fashion.
From rags to riches they climbed from the bottom of the chart to the top. The Chicago Cubs did the same thing in 2016 when they won their first pennant in over a century, 108 years to be exact.
You could say these two clubs bought in to TTP: “trust the process.” Heard of the catchphrase? If you’re a sports fan like me, I bet you have. It started with the Philadelphia 76ers, an NBA franchise who has been putting that phrase to work for the past half-decade.
It Has To Start Somewhere
“We talk a lot about process—not outcome—and trying to consistently take all the best information you can and consistently make good decisions. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t, but you reevaluate them all.”
Above is a quote by the erstwhile GM of the 76ers, Sam Hinkie. He’s credited with beginning the trend towards the phrase TTP, particularly the philosophy behind it. Before he was hired, the 76ers evidently had no process; they were scrabbling for any success (much like the notorious Cleveland Browns), until Hinkie was hired, who implemented not only a process to work towards, but a mindset to latch on to.
His process was simple: tank now in the short-term to potentially win big in the long-term. So doing the organization could draft for quality talent in the NBA Draft.
Hinkie was hired in May of 2013, but three years into his position and he was out. Too much pressure from the outside––because of the losses; going 10-82 his final year––forced his resignation.
And yet what he started hasn’t died. The players, such as center Joel Embiid who has self-styled himself “The Process,” the fanbase and even the organization continue to support it. And that’s the unique thing about TTP, it’s more than just an invigorating chant or a snazzy acronym one can tattoo below their shoulder. It’s like a way of life, or at least a way of doing things.
“People seem to refer to the whole thing that Sam Hinkie and the Sixers did as the process, but if you really believe in what it means, that’s not what it is.
“Trusting the process is never over. Somehow, people will take that to mean that it’s OK that they stink forever, but that’s not what it means, either. If rebuilding a jump shot is a process, you have to continue that process even when the shot is fixed. You never stop shooting that new way, you never stop trusting the process.”
Words said by Spike Eskin, a 76ers podcaster who, along with his co-host Michael Levin, helped spread TTP to the pop culture mass. To him, TTP is something to commit to, and notably important, to never give up on. I agree, don’t you?
To “trust the process” is to trust in a model that guides you; that will get you where you want to go and the results you want to see.
You know who “trusted the process” well before it was a thing? Rafael Nadal. In case you’re unaware of this man, he’s a professional tennis player who’s won 16 majors, second to only Roger Federer, and ten of which are all on one surface: clay, at Roland Garros. He’s the only man to win one major in multiple figures.
When he was but a kid he was advised by his Uncle Toni to swing left-handed as he was using both hands at the time. That same uncle also advised him to use one hand on his forehand swing. He hasn’t switched out of these playing styles since switching to them, but continued to work at them.
Throughout his entire career the ‘King of Clay’ has been alongside his uncle, because his uncle is his trainer. Ever since he took up a racquet in his hands his uncle has been there to guide his efforts.
When he was a teenager his daily routine was thus: school from nine till noon, tennis for two hours before lunch, back to school in the afternoon, back to tennis for two more hours in the evening.
His uncle was undoubtedly a significant piece in setting up the process in the young Nadal’s mind. Said Uncle Toni,
“The problem is that to win Roland Garros implies that you must have discipline, that you can listen and that you can accept your mistakes.”
And that’s one of the things Nadal developed for his process: a mindset, consisting of discipline, humility, patience and grit. No one questions Nadal’s grit on court. Where many players will give in to their opponent before the match is over, Nadal keeps on at it. That’s why he’s one of the greatest to ever play the game. He trusts the process: his process.
Michael Jordan. Serena Williams. Bill Belichick. Nick Saban. Steve Jobs. Stephen King. Albert Einstein. Even fictional characters like Rocky Balboa “trusted the process.” Because what did they attain? Results. Success. Borne from an underlying process; their success was not random.
When you “trust the process,” you are ultimately placing trust in yourself, especially when it’s just you, and that’s vital fuel the longer you commit to a process. You need to trust yourself, or else you will concede.
TTP is a model. It’s also a kind of philosophy. In my opinion the best kind of philosophy gives you practical advice which you can put to good effect.
Practical philosophy, such as Stoicism, is about a state of mind. It’s about receding into its shelter when you feel any degree of doubt or any thrust of fear from the outside. It gives you confidence and security in yourself and the model; a guide if you will.
TTP works just the same. It is one part mindset and one part routine.
Like Nadal, Benjamin Franklin had a well-established routine of his own.
- At 4AM he would rise from bed and proceed to the showers (or bath), eat his early morning breakfast, and then simply think on what he wanted to do for the day.
- From 8 till noon he would work, then he’d take an hour lunch, thereafter, resume work until time was up at 5.
- Between 5 and 10 he would have dinner, do some cleaning, take part in music and conversation, and reflect on his day’s events at closing time.
- 10PM he was in bed, and the next day: new day, but same routine.
Committing to a routine establishes a flow that becomes second nature after a time. It’s simple for you can easily establish one of your own––honestly, who’s stopping you? You’ll find yourself hardpressed to break from it. You add to your process when you hone both body and mind, because you’re less willing to give in when the going gets tough––because there’s trust.
What do you place your trust in? Is it a book? A startup? Your job?
Whatever it be, whatever it is that you are noticeably drawn towards, begin to think about the process to go with the product. In other words, think about how you are going to reach the results that matter to you.
If you want a promotion, how are you going to get it? Are you just going to hope for the best, basically throw it up to chance or fortune? Or are you going to apply yourself behind a focused, disciplined and mentally structured process?
Think philosophically and whatever obstacles that you may think are impossible to overcome become reduced to mere rungs on a ladder: you don’t have to jump over an obstacle like a hurdle, expending large sums of energy founded on uncertainty; but you take rational and measured steps over each one, moving from one rung to the next until you reach the top, a.k.a., success.
With the right mindset comes resiliency. This mindset should espouse discipline because discipline will keep you straight. Like any accomplished athlete it will keep you focused on the task at hand and on point to reach those results you set in advance.
Establish a routine so get into the habit of doing things, such as creating a plan, that will get you where you want to be and stick to them, modifying them as you progress. You’re training your brain to get it accustomed to a process that you believe will drive results, be they short-term, or more likely, long-term.
What are those results you want fulfilled? Write them out so you can see them, then start working away. Work to make them an accomplishment and not merely an aspiration.
Before you get to where you want to be, you not only have to start somewhere, you need something to help lead you there. You need a guide.
TTP can be that guide. It can be your rock anthem in a way that it is for the Philadelphia 76ers’ fanbase. “Trust the process.” Three words of power, which the more you say the more you’ll believe in. If you have a product or a dream you absolutely believe in, trust will be innate.
What’s your process? Once you have it, like Joel Embiid, be the process.