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  • Colin Jonov

The Competitor’s Paradox: Process vs Outcome

“Trust the process” has become one of the most popular sayings, if not the most popular, among successful individuals in today’s society. This is also a theme I frequently explore in my writings. However, one point often overlooked is the importance of caring about the outcome. Trusting the process is commonly misunderstood as indifference to results. In reality, the outcome does matter; you should care deeply about it. Despising failure is crucial, but it’s equally important not to let that failure discourage or defeat you. Instead, use it to refine your “process” and improve your performance. Trusting the process doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care; it means you shouldn’t let setbacks deter you from fighting the fight.

In my work with athletes, I often teach them how to cope with failure while simultaneously building the resilience needed to rebound from any loss or setback. Through my experience with various groups of athletes across different sports, I’ve learned to communicate this message more effectively. I’ve shifted the narrative from “Trust the process and detach from the outcome” to “When you become obsessed with mastering your craft and have the mental discipline to separate your identity from the outcome, there’s no limit to what you can achieve.” Two key distinctions stand out here:

First, the process is always open to improvement. People who are obsessed with mastering their craft continually seek to enhance their methods. They possess an intrinsic love for what they do that is unshakeable; they are consumed by the desire to grow. As a result, I’ve expanded the phrase “trust the process” to “trust, love, and obsess over the process.” While short but sweet is often appreciated, in this case, adding layers is necessary. Trusting the process becomes easier when you also love and obsess over it. With this level of commitment, you’ll arrive ready to fight the next day, whether you win or lose, simply because of your passion for enhancing the process. It becomes your call to action.

Secondly, having the mental discipline to separate one’s identity from the outcome offers a healthier framework for dealing with failure than mere indifference. Losses and failures are painful experiences, and you should be motivated to avoid feeling that pain ever again. However, when you attach your identity to setbacks, that’s when failure becomes crippling. Rather than serving as valuable lessons for growth and improvement, failures become personal indictments, undermining your self-worth and hampering your ability to move forward constructively. The key distinction is that you are not a failure or a loser; your identity is not tied to these setbacks. You should channel the pain from loss into constructive energy for future endeavors. You are always more than your outcomes, and your identity should not be defined by them.

The most successful people view failure as a pathway to growth. Losses are inevitable; they will occur. What allows us to recover and improve is our mindset. Don’t simply accept failure; recognize that setbacks will happen and don’t let the fear of them stop you from engaging fully. Failure, when channeled properly, can be life’s greatest teaching tool. When you experience setbacks, take the lessons learned and incorporate them into your process until it becomes unbreakable. When you are obsessed with mastering your craft and possess the mental discipline to separate identity from outcome, there’s no limit to what you can achieve. That’s what building fortitude is all about.

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