Friday, February 17, 2012

Process

We love the process, and the process is just as important as the end result.
--Sara Hall, 2012 USA Cross Country Champion
This was part of the Runner's World quote of the day.  Ironically "process" was on my mind to write about today.  I am usually "only" focused on an end result.  I don't like the process of getting there, it takes WAY too long, I don't understand the "whys" and/or the "hows", sometimes I just don't like the work involved, other times I get slightly off course and end up in a totally different place than I wanted to be! 

"Process" (NOT my desire) is precisely WHAT will determine the end result I reach.  Without the proper process, the outcome is not usually what it should be/what I want it to be.   One of the hard things for me to realize is that "process" can't be rushed.   I was reminded of this recently while taking a SPINNING class.  The instructor said after a caterpillar forms a chrysalis, and begins to change into a butterfly, it has to beat its newly forming wings against the inside of the cocoon in order to get all the fluid out of its fat little caterpillar body.  Interruption of that process will kill it.  During the metamorphosis it is no longer what it was, but also not yet what it will be.  In fact, for a while it's really just goo.

I have a hard time being in that "goo" phase.  Not only does it take a long time, I want to know why certain things have to be done, or how doing them will help me get to the result I want.  To give you a non-athletic example, when I was a kid I wanted some Rice Crispy Treats.  I had never made them, but there was a recipe on the box; how hard could it be to mix some stuff together?  The instructions called for melting the butter and marshmallows in a pot over low heat.  LOW??  REALLY??  I wanted my Treats NOW.  I turned the knob up to high.  ...you know what happens to butter and marshmallows on high?   They don't burn, they just pretty much disintegrate.  I couldn't figure out why I didn't get the the yum-ness I was looking for until my mother explained to me how important it was to follow the directions as written, even if I didn't understand them fully.  I still don't completely understand why it doesn't just melt FASTER but I do know if I want them to turn out right I have to follow the instructions.  (Okay, yes, I do understand melting points and butter/marshmallows have a lower one than something like lead...but WHY does it have to be that way??!!)

Sometimes the reason the process is so hard for me is because it's just hard.  I read a quote recently, I can't remember where or I'd link it (it was probably on Face Book...), "riding a bike up a hill is HARD, no matter who you are."  That sounds reasonable, but in my mind it's harder for me.  While I believe it's true the muscles needed to accomplish the task might be weaker in me than in other people, the idea that Coach Eric hurts when he's riding up a hill was NEWS to me.  Chrissy Wellington said in an interview she likes to "beast herself"...I loved that.  Her workouts are hard and she doesn't shy away from them--she rushes toward them with open arms and, or course, a big ole smile on her face!  The same SPINNING instructor who told the story about the butterfly likes to say, "DON'T MAKE IT EASY...YOU ARE HERE FOR A REASON...DON'T GIVE UP!!"  If the process of getting to the finish were easy, the reward wouldn't be nearly as sweet.

You've heard that saying, "practice makes perfect?"  It's a lie.  Perfect practice makes perfect.  Sloppy practice makes sloppy.  Right now I'm in the process of learning how to swim correctly.  I know some of you are asking what on Earth I can mean by that.  Since I've worked my way up to an Olympic distance triathlon, I should know how to swim, right?  Wrong.  I know how to thrash around in the water and move my body from point A to B without drowning, but I am just now learning how to swim efficiently, which will hopefully not only cut minutes off my time, but also allow me to conserve energy to complete the bike and swim.  However, the effort to learn/re-learn is much harder than just going out there and splashing from one side to the other.  It requires the use of muscles which I have NOT been using, and it requires me to CONCENTRATE.  (Sometimes I have to concentrate on relaxing because I'm over-thinking so much.)  Slight corrections in my form have already cut several seconds off my 50yard time.  (A half-iron is 3344 yards...so several seconds off 50 yards will add up to many minutes in the race!!)


I'm beginning to see the process is actually what life is all about.  We spend WAY more time in the process of getting somewhere...because when we do "get there" we usually begin a new process of something.

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!!!
:D


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