The BLOG: Voices

In life and business, process drives results

One of my good friends from college is a successful entrepreneur. The company he founded is nearly doubling in size every year. He is highly ambitious, running a lean operation with offices in Boston, Denver and San Francisco.

It’s intense, to say the least, and I wanted to learn more about how he manages it all. So I recently sat down with him and asked him about his personal routines.

Here’s how that conversation went:

“I’m home for dinner nearly every night,” he began.

“Well, what time do you get back on your computer at night?”

“Rarely. I leave it locked at the office. My wife and I sit on the couch together every night to enjoy each other’s company after we put our three kids to bed.”

“Ah, so how much work do you do on the weekends?”

“None. I’ve come to realize that I’m most valuable to my company and family when I follow a weekly process that leaves me healthy and clear-minded.”

I was stunned. How does he not get consumed by the demands of his work?

The Power’s in the Process

In his TEDx Talk, Brett Ledbetter, a human performance coach and author of “What Drives Winning,” describes what he discovered after researching 15 of the most successful coaches in America. In a nutshell, he found that the best coaches “focus less on the result, more on the process—but they recognize that character is what drives the process, which drives the result.”

I’m a results-oriented person. I use scorecards, dashboards and KPIs. Days are often measured by productivity, and years are measured by progress. I’m generally aware of whether I’m getting ahead or falling behind. So I love being fast, efficient and at high capacity in my efforts. But this mindset often leaves me feeling either anxious and depleted or disconnected from important relationships.

In the book “Simplify,” Bill Hybels says, “Sometimes people derive a disproportionate amount of their self-worth from being overachievers. They keep doing and doing, thinking that what matters most is the end product, not the process.”

Process is defined as a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end. Mature organizations know that process drives consistent results. Without a quality system, products aren’t reliable.

Then why do you and I often manage our lives with hurry, reactivity and impulsivity? Do we think that process will restrict our joy and creativity? Are we afraid that others will judge us for being overly rigid? Or do we simply lack the discipline to form and refine a life process? The answers are intellectually simple but behaviorally complex.

What if, just for the next month, we try implementing these processes:

— “On” and “off” hours for technology
— Recurring scheduled time blocks for what matters most
— A fixed time for going to bed and waking up
— Achievable routines for physical and spiritual health
— Planning time to consider new life projects and work in progress
— Analysis time to reflect on past efforts and ways to improve
— A prioritized list of relationships with goals for how to invest in each one

Sure we have to continue to be flexible, spontaneous and engaged. That’s all a part of character. But imagine the accumulated benefits over time if you were to focus less on the results of your life and more on your life process.

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to follow the example of my friend—to establish processes that will lead to healthy balance, clarity and greater value for my family and for my company.

What life process improvements are you ready to implement?

Matt Norman

Matt Norman

Matt Norman is president of Norman & Associates, which is the largest provider of Dale Carnegie Training programs in North America. He is the author of several articles published by Dale Carnegie Training and Training Magazine on organizational effectiveness and personal growth. He blogs weekly at