Is Success A Process Or Is It About Achieving Goals?

Barry Brownstein writes articles that I usually find interesting. Especially so when they talk about the same things I think. One of these appeared recently.

The Tom Brady Approach to Mastery

It makes an important point. Goals are good but insufficient. To achieve mastery you must have a process to do so.

The points you should know

“If you believe that the secret to Brady’s success is his bottomless talent, you might be missing the main point of the Tom Brady story.” Talent helps but talent does not define or even predict success. If you don’t have any, then success is unlikely, but having talent does not guarantee the good outcome. In Brady’s case, the talent was barely visible.

When he went to University of Michigan in 1996 he was 7th on the quarterback depth chart.

In 2000 he was drafted into the NFL as a sixth round pick at 199th overall. There were 198 players picked before he was chosen. Of those 198, 25 have played in the Pro Bowl – the NFL All-star Game. More than half of those were drafted in the first round. Many of the 198 did not play at all.

Even with the Patriots he was #4 on the quarterback depth chart.

When he graduated, he dusted off an old resume because he thought he should look for work outside football.

Why did he become the GOAT (Greatest of All Time)

Size, athletic ability, and learned skills mater, but those are not everything. The author of the article above points out an important fact and emphasizes it with examples. The question, “Are we too focused on a goal and not enough on the work that is necessary to achieve our goal?”

Author Mark Manson once wanted to be a rock star. He could see the value of that happening, but “was not in love with the process.” He failed. In his words, “I didn’t even try hard enough to fail at it. I hardly tried at all.”

His summary of his experience, “What determines your success isn’t ‘What do you want to enjoy?’ The question is, ‘What pain do you want to sustain?’ …[If] you want the benefits of something in life, you have to also want the costs,”

Brady is willing to pay those costs.

He eats well. He exercises well. He looks after his body and his mind. He is not easily distracted on the field. His philosophy he does not let the actions of others upset him.

None of those abilities and processes come free.

Another GOAT opines

““If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.” Michelangelo

Achieving success is a process that gradually achieves the result. Having a goal, where success is the event that matters, is incomplete and unlikely to work as hoped. It is the continuous effort to improve that matter. The work. People understand day to day process better than they understand distant desirable goals.

As the old cliché goes, “the only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.”

The bits to take away

Goal setting is one aspect of life planning. The goal must include the price to be paid and the processes to be used.

The idea is not new. H.L. Hunt earned one of the great fortunes of the 20th century and by 1960 was the richest person in the world. His wisdom is like Tom Brady’s, “Decide what you want, decide what you are willing to exchange for it. Establish your priorities and go to work”

Success is not an event. It is the outcome of a strong process constantly applied.


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I build strategic, fact-based estate and income plans. The plans identify alternate ways to achieve spending and estate distribution goals. In the past, I have been a planner with a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency, a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business. I have appeared on more than 100 television shows on financial planning have presented to organizations as varied as the Canadian Bar Association, The Ontario Institute of Chartered Accountants, The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, and Banks – from CIBC to the Business Development Bank.

Be in touch at 705-927-4770 or by email at don@moneyfyi.com

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