As you prepare for the UPSC Civil Services Examination, you are focussed on your dream of getting into the coveted Indian Civil Services. It is natural for you to think that the only thing that matters is the result. It does not matter how you get there; it does not matter what happens from Point A to Point Z in the long preparation journey; what matters most is getting to the goal you have set out for. Right? Think again. To succeed in anything, focussing on the process and how you will achieve the desired outcome is more important than the goal itself.
Recently, I was struck by what Mahendra Singh Dhoni, former Indian cricket captain and wicket-keeper-batsman and current captain of Chennai Super Kings in the IPL, said. He was asked: How could you maintain such a calm and balanced approach on the field while playing; you have never shown unusual excitement, nervous energy or even emotional outburst? His answer was for everyone to listen. After all, it was under his captaincy that India won the 2007 ICC World Twenty20, the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup, and the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy, the most by any captain. He is known for his calm captaincy and ability to finish matches in tight and tense situations. For these reasons, he is considered one of the best finishers in the game ever and one of the greatest wicket-keepers and captains in the history of cricket. Dhoni’s answer was: “I always kept it simple. Focus more on the process and less on the results. If you get the process right, you will get the result. And enjoy, don’t take too much pressure.” His trademark smile followed.
There are many reasons why people who focus on the process rather than on results gain more in life. When you focus less on the results and more on the processes or techniques involved, you discover that you learn faster, are more successful and even happier while seeking the intended outcome. You gain more in life when you focus on the process rather than the results. Concentrating on a specific desired result makes you less willing to experiment or take risks to pursue a better outcome than the one you initially aimed for.
Let’s look at the anatomy of pressure. There is pressure when it comes to delivering results. After all, you want to prove a point to everyone out there that you have achieved success. Conversely, when you focus on the process, you eliminate the noise of external factors. You have fewer distractions. There is less pressure because it is not about winning or losing; instead, it is about gaining mastery in whatever field you are in while pursuing the desired results. Focussing on results puts you in partial control of whether you reach it. You have to cope with time, health, family, competition and many more issues. You have to deliver. But when you do not have the challenge of getting results nagging away at you, you have an internal locus of control that leads to higher self-esteem, empowerment and success. This gives you a more meaningful life. The result is a thing of the future, some months or years away from today. When focussed on the process, you are excited about being in the present and enjoying it more fully. Focussing on the process gives you many more moments of happiness in enjoying the fruits of your labour.
It is easy to fix your goals, but it is far more difficult and critical to spell out how you will reach there. Once you set the primary goal, come up with the goals with respect to the process for getting from Point A to Point B, Point B to Point C, and so on. The process is about putting in maximum effort and performing to the best of your ability in each particular moment. Every moment you do something associated with your goal deserves utmost attention and action.
So, now you know why Dhoni is able to keep himself quiet and calm on the field while achieving more outstanding results than many of his peers and what he means when he says to focus more on the process and less on the results.
You have my best wishes for focussing on the process and enjoying every moment of it.