Process Over Outcome - Focusing on Results Won't Teach You Anything
This past summer, I had the honor and privilege of coaching with USA Baseball at the National Training Complex located in Cary, North Carolina. I coached the 13U Ohio Valley team comprised of the best kids from PA, Mi, OH, and KY where we competed against players from other regions across the United States. For many of my guys, this was the first time they had been exposed to an event of this magnitude. Before we started our games, we discussed as a team to focus on two things, I believe these principles are relevant in any situation, including the one you’re currently in:
1. “What If” to “Even If”
For those of you who don’t know, baseball is a game of failure. A hitter who has a 30% success rate at the plate for 15 years will land him in the Hall of Fame. In our first meeting as a team, we discussed how, over the course of the week, we will make mistakes, face adversity, or be disappointed. This is probably not the message they were expecting to hear before a competition, but it was the honest truth.
I challenged them to adopt a mindset from “what if” to “even if”. Instead of asking themselves “what if I strike out or make an error or give up a hit?”, I challenged them to ask themselves, “even if these things happen, how am I going to choose to respond?” I wanted the team to understand that we cannot always control what happens to us, but we can control how we react to it. Expecting to go through life without hardship is foolish. It is important to acknowledge adversity and understand that even if I endure failure or disappointment, I am capable of responding appropriately.
2. Surrender the Result
Too many times, focusing on the outcome alters the way we act or perform. Contrary to some people’s beliefs, winning is not 100% controllable, so that’s not where our emphasis as a team lies. This was and still is one of my biggest struggles in my personal development as I am very competitive and formerly believed that winning within the rules no matter the stakes takes precedence. At times, I still need to check myself and make sure this mindset remains the former. In the game of baseball, it is important to understand that we cannot control the climate, bad hops, umpires, the other team’s talent level, or personal situations players are dealing with. All that we ask our players to do is give their very best, trust their preparation, play with conviction, and control the things they can control.
At Grove City College, we have won games that led us to be disappointed with the our effort , mainly because we did not uphold our standards. On the flipside, there have been games where we have lost and walked away proud of the effort we gave. At the end of the day, if we are able to put first things first, secondary gains, such as wins and losses, will not be suppressed but instead they will increase.
Author Jamie Gilbert stated in her book The Principle Circle that “being able to surrender the result allows you to operate with complete self-control” (86). Although surrendering the result is important, you cannot surrender the responsibility. Surrendering the result increases the level of accountability because you can no longer blame external factors for failure or a lack of productivity. If you truly focus on controlling the controllables and giving your best effort, you are the only person that determines whether or not you adhered to that standard.
At the National Training Complex located North Carolina, our guys answered the call and responded in a great way. Over the course of the week, their actions and words showed that they were able to develop the mindset change from “what if” to “even if” and learned to surrender the results. Buying into this standard freed them from the fear of failure and gave them the freedom to play at their best. The ability to put first things first allowed the results to take care of themselves as we came in 3rd place with wins over N. Texas, Northern California, and the Southeast.
I challenge you to be courageous and buy into these principles and let the chips fall where they may.