The Process, Not the Outcome
Ordinary People Focus on the Outcome. Extraordinary People Focus On the Process.
Article by Anthony Moore
In his autobiography, Bryan Cranston (Walter White of the renowned 'Breaking Bad' TV series) described the lesson he learned that helped him go from an average actor to an extraordinary one. Here’s what he wrote:
“Early in my career, I was always hustling. Doing commercials, guest-starring, auditioning like crazy. I was making a decent living…but I felt I was stuck in junior varsity. I wondered if I had plateaued. Then, Breck Costin [his mentor] suggested I focus on process rather than outcome.
I wasn’t going to the audition to get anything: a job or money or validation. I wasn’t going to compete.
I was going to give something.
I wasn’t there to get a job. I was there to do a job. I was there to give a performance. If I attached to the outcome, I was setting myself up to expect, and thus to fail. My job was to be compelling. Take come chances. Enjoy the process.”
Cranston went on to say after he made this mindset shift, he felt much more relaxed and free. There was no longer any pressure, because the outcome was irrelevant. “Once I made the switch, I had power in any room I walked into,” he wrote. “Which meant I could relax. I was free.”
Soon after this shift, Cranston was offered a role in the wildly popular TV series 'Malcolm in the Middle', for which he was nominated for 3 Emmy awards. He is now one of the most respected and well-known actors in the world.
What would it do for you if you could walk into any room and feel relaxed and free?
How would it feel to have power in any situation you walked into?
What would happen if you could live your life with no pressure, free to achieve any goal you wanted?
Ordinary people focus on the outcome. But extraordinary people focus on the process. This is how they achieve such enormous goals.
Pressure is Imagined
Pressure isn’t real — it’s just the stress you put on yourself in your head. Pressure is the result of limitations we put on ourselves to produce outcomes we don’t control. When we focus on the outcome, we begin to expect things out of our control, which sets us up for failure.
Here’s a personal example.
Back when I used to work as a telemarketer, I was under extreme stress every day. I was making 250+ calls a day to random strangers (most of whom had already told me “No, I don’t want to buy your products, stop calling me.”). My boss was constantly breathing down my neck, demanding to know why I hadn’t made more sales. He constantly implied he was about to fire me.
After months of this, I began to believe a false reality: that I could make people buy something. If only I said the right thing, in the right way, at the right time. At least, that’s what my boss claimed.
I wasn’t until nearly 2 years later I finally quit that awful job and left my manipulative boss that I realized: “That’s not true. I can’t make anyone do anything.” All that pressure I had been putting on myself was imagined. I had made it all up in some sick effort to “motivate” myself.
You don’t need to pressure yourself to compete, to win, to come out on top.
Because the truth is, you don’t control the outcome. You don’t control anything - except yourself. The only parts you truly have control over are your attitude, your mindset, and your actions. The rest is out of your control.
There’s a quote I heard in my many years of therapy and counseling:
“My serenity is inversely proportional to my expectations. The higher my expectations of other people are, the lower is my serenity.”
The higher your expectations - for your job, the people around you, the outcome - the lower your serenity. The more you expect things to happen in ways you don’t control, the more stress and pressure you’ll experience.
This is a hard lesson. I don’t expect many people to get it right away. I’ve heard that phrase for years and still have a hard time with it. That’s OK. Fundamental mindset shifts like this take time. If it doesn’t make sense now, don’t worry about. If there’s one thing I encourage you to consider: pressure is imagined. You don’t control the outcome, so don’t even try. Instead, focus on what you can control: yourself, your attitude, and your actions.
Once you understand pressure is imagined, nothing can phase you on your path to mastery. You can achieve enormous goals with simple ease.
“Ignore what other people are doing. Ignore what’s going on around you. There is no competition. There is no objective benchmark to hit. There is simply the best you can do - that’s all that matters.” - Ryan Holiday
Thank you again for an interesting and useful article.