Welcome to the next to last in our “Seven Perils to Achieving Your Potential” Series. In this edition we examine a debate that in healers, coaches, and counselors circles is as old as “the chicken and the egg.” Which takes priority? Which comes first? What’s more important…?
Product vs. Process
In Stephen Covey’s bestselling self-improvement book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, two of the habits on his list are “Put First Things First” and “Begin With the End in Mind.” On their face they might seem to contradict each other, but upon further examination they actually complement each other.
Put First Things First: This is a reference to process. It means to employ a set of steps and create a course to follow that you’re not just comfortable with but, to some degree, enjoy. The process is the thing that marks the difference between a job well done and a job done well. Another way of looking at it is from your client’s point of view. A client judges the value of your service not just on the end result but on the entire experience. You might achieve the goal, but if in doing so the trip was a rocky, awkward, uncomfortable, or even painful one, your client is likely to have second thoughts of either working with you again or recommending you to others.
Begin With the End in Mind: This is in reference to the goal. Setting steps and charting a course require both a starting point and finish line. Having a vision of what this finish line will be and how far away it is are important. As a healer, coach, or counselor you want the process to be one you and your client will find as fulfilling and rich as possible. Truth is, in what we do for a living, as much is gained from the trip itself as from the outcome of the voyage. However, you can’t ever take your eye off the ball. Your client can! In fact, your client will. If you’re working the process properly a client is likely to become so engaged and enamored with it they’ve totally (albeit temporarily) lost sight of the objective. They can afford to do this (they’re paying for it). You can’t because you’re responsible for it!
Truth is, product and process shouldn’t be foes. Instead they should work as partners. You can’t have one without the other, and the better the former is performed, the better the latter will be. In a way, it’s much like the debate between the chicken and the egg. The answer is that it doesn’t matter, because without the other – neither exists.