Friday, June 18, 2010
Goal or Process?
My friend Alistair liked to cut his lawn in two directions in order to give diamond shapes within the cut lawn. Most of my other friends just wanted to get the lawn cut, process be damned. I often, at some early point, read the end of a book so as to avoid reading it quickly, just to find out how it ends. I enjoy the leisurely process of reading good writing. Getting to the end doesn't seem then, to be so important. The quilters in our church hope they will not produce the completed product too soon as they have a lot of fun in the process. If you enjoy what you do, and can savour every moment, why would you want the process to end? When you engage the process, you are living in the present. In fact, in reality, there is only the present. If you are focused only on the goal, you are living for the future, and if dissatisfied , you may be fleeing the past. Neither of these entities, the past and the future, are real. I don't mean to say there should be no goals, or to minimize the importance of goals , but it may be a barrier to engaging the process fully. Moreover if the process is fully embraced, and it is rational, the goal may change or useful surprises may be discovered. Goals achieved, mean you have to start on something new toward a further goal. Someone says " That person is a go-getter!" If you extend your process because you enjoy doing it, the risk is, someone says," Are you still working on that?" Fortunate is the person that embraces both the process and the goal. Doubly fortunate is the person that the process enlarges or multiplies or changes the goals that can be achieved! Some of mankind's greatest discoveries unexpectedly arose as a result of a process originally directed at something entirely different. It is possible to overlook that serendipity if the focus is not on the process and only on the assumed goal. What this approach to process requires is time and patience, in short supply for the young, brilliant, and impatient!