Trust the Process

In 1980, Coach Herb Brooks led the U.S. hockey team to a victory over the seemingly unbeatable Russian team. In the movie Miracle, Herb pushes his team to trust the process and each other by repeatedly having them skate sprints after a tough loss. This was to teach them they could work together, trust each other, and far outwork what they thought they were capable of. They played each game leading up to the big one with passion, and although they wanted victory over the Russian team, they wanted to improve as a team and play together. Herb was not interested in building a team with the best players but rather the ones who would push hard and fight together. They had to trust the process.

The Philadelphia 76ers also used the idea of trusting the process as they rebuilt from the ground up in 2013 with General Manager Sam Hinkie. He was less concerned with the outcome and having a winning season than he was with growing a team that could make long term strides. He believed in  making the best decisions based on the information he and the team had. He led his team and the fans into believing it was about trusting the process, and it proved worth it.

I fully understand the idea of the process. It reminds me of running. When I was in high school cross country I would run in races for the purpose of finishing, the end result. It was about being first among the other runners, and I was pretty good. I could run a sub-six minute mile in the middle of a 5k race. I qualified for and ran in state finals. It is different for me now. When I run there is no competition, just the process. I am out there by myself with nothing but the creek rushing after the rain, the gravel under foot, and the crisp fall breeze in my face. Running is about taking the next step. It’s about being present in the moment.

In college I hiked part of the Appalachian Trail as part of a class on personal development. I was given the responsibility of walking behind two gentlemen who were struggling to keep pushing forward. I would encourage them to keep plodding along until we could reach camp for the night. Sometimes I wish, as the gentlemen did, that I had no one so that I could stop and rest, or just quit and walk to the nearest road to be picked up and taken back. Sometimes I need someone to walk with me and remind me of the reason I am taking each step. I need someone to fight with and for me. I need someone to help me make the best decisions. I need to be reminded to listen to the sticks snapping under my feet, feel the sweat dripping down my face, and smell the damp wood from the rain the night before.

Photo by Samuel Berner on Unsplash

I can make many more analogies to what trusting the process looks like and what I need, but I am really struggling with what the process looks like in my life. I don’t see the process in my own life because I don’t see the progress in my life. I have a difficult time seeing the forward movement. Sure, I have made an effort to develop personal relationships, utilize honesty, and develop a broader concept of who I am and what I like. I am writing, reading, running, and looking into volunteer opportunities, but I’m still intensely depressed and have frequent thoughts of suicide and self harm. It’s like walking in the dark. I know I am walking, but I don’t see myself getting any closer to the light at the end of the tunnel, if it’s not an illusion.



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