Trust the Process

I am using a phrase I don’t particularly like as title. It makes me sound like a motivational speaker, and I don’t like motivational speaking. I believe in being interesting so that people see you as an archetype to emulate, rather than voice empty slogans. But this slogan isn’t empty. It’s common sense. If you choose a worthwhile goal, what you do to achieve it is to trust the process. If the goal is worthwhile it would take a while to achieve the results you are looking for.

I have been thinking of writing an essay on the young Napoléon. The older Napoleon, I don’t admire that much; but the younger man was a force of nature. He was disciplined and endlessly ambitious. Until his family inherited a fortune, he was poor and had to live on a tight budget. Even through such difficult times he would send remittances home to help his mum and siblings. He slept for six hours and spent his entire day reading and writing. He wrote articles for several newspapers and authored a few books. That was when he wanted to be a published author, when he had no empire dreams.

You see this pattern in most people who are successful. It was the same with Albert Einstein. Walter Isaacson’s biography on him shows that he cultivated the habit of studying at a very young age and mastered calculus way earlier than he was supposed to. I recently read a book about the founding of Twitter and the same pattern is observed among the founders. Particularly, Evan Williams, the creator of Medium, who taught himself how to code by establishing a strict regimen-coding for more than half the day each day.

This pattern has made me realize that becoming good at what one does takes a lot of effort. It has helped me not to be cynical about the success of others. Of course there are exceptions to almost every rule. But in a generally well functioning society people who are successful put in a lot of effort. You can find extraordinary people even in failed states. That means there’s hope for everyone. Though you would definitely find people who get to the top by walking on others’ corpses, if you look well enough you can always find people who are admirable and doing important things. This doesn’t mean they are perfect. There’s only one Christ. Perhaps you might not find such people close to you, but you can find them in books, or even in movies. My favorite superhero is Batman. *Smiles. You model your life on their example.

There’s one thing about trusting the process I find very convenient- the process takes care of itself. When you do something enough it becomes a habit. For sometime now I have been working out. A few days ago I was thinking about how I would exercise the following day, the routine I would follow. I now feel uncomfortable the days I don’t exercise. I tend to feel as though something is missing. In some weird twist I enjoy the pain it births. This is a new me from the one I know. When I look back at my plump self of some years ago, and the feelings surging through my head now, I think the change in me is as result of habit formation. So in some sense trust the process can be true literally.

Another reason why we should trust the process is that there’s no better alternative. If you won’t trust the process what would you do? Doing hard things are hard, but what’s the way out other than doing hard things? You could be bitter about how difficult life is, but in the end thinking like that makes life suck the more.

Thank you for reading.

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