Trust The Process
Updated: Apr 27
Most of the time things appear more difficult than they may be. They may even cause one to lose hope. Or worse, they may make a task seem impossible. Despite our best skills, depending on what the challenge is, we may become pessimistic. Pessimism is a very negative quality. I would recommend optimism in almost all circumstances.
But on the subject of 'process', do you have one? Does anyone you know have one? Or are they just winging it? Given the current uncertainty in everyday life a process for anything may seem worthless. It may not even seem like something worth doing. Trust me, it is. It's always good to have or develop a process. Depending on what life may throw at you, you might have to simply tweak your process to make it work for other challenges. Its better to have one and not need it, than to need one and not have it. As many of you know we are united states military veterans. Besides spying on people and watching them all day in escape rooms we're also public servants who volunteer. In an effort to help those less fortunate we've been doing (properly safe and vetted) volunteer work. A large group effort was arranged to deliver food and cleaning supplies to seniors; the only problem was HOW to do it. How can we make sure the activity is safe? How can we protect our volunteers and staff?
About a day before a friend dropped off a puzzle to me. A 750 piece Elvis Presley puzzle, replete with colorful intimacies, which upon inspection filled my heart with dread. This was obviously going to be hard work. Obviously, this would be tough. But here it was on a Monday: a 750 piece puzzle contest to complete and the organization of food and cleaning supplies to seniors, countywide. No pressure right?
My son was on the iPad chilling and eating kettle corn. I had just opened a 750 piece puzzle. The 8 person conference call had just begun and the emails of requested items were coming in non-stop. It was at that moment I decided to open a gifted bottle of Cabernet, this was about 5:03 pm. The only thing I was REALLY focusing on at the moment was the puzzle. It made no sense! I just could not see how the hell this was supposed to come together to make Elvis on a motorcycle. How!? Not having access to a forklift or my scheduled call with the IL DCEO office in regards to our Disaster Loan application? That was taking a back-burner at the moment. This puzzle was pissing me off!
It kinda felt (mentally) like the entire world was collapsing in and around me. The call was full of pessimism. Everyone was sounding sad and using words like "no". They kept highlighting the things we DIDN'T have. Everyone's talking about how scared they are. We only have 10 boxes of gloves, each with 20 pairs; yet the activity will encompass Kane and parts of Will County. Just sadness, gloom, worry and palpable pessimism. Kind of like that moment when Steve Bartman messed up the game for the Cubs back in 2003. When you can just FEEL the despair.
My son was humming "Money For Nothing" by Dire Straits as he played on the iPad. He was absolutely detached from everything going on. Completely detached. He kept asking me about "adamantium", and how Wolverine could be alive if his skeleton was made of metal. Wouldn't this kill him? The nature of the conversation was refreshing on a psychological level; I was discussing the impossible with a child while simultaneously confounded by the possible. I took a huge gulp of Cabernet.
I turned the volume down on the phone a little bit; I'm not the worrying or intimidated type anyway. I KNOW how bad the situation looks at the moment. I don't need to keep complaining and wondering how 'this' or 'that'; pessimism kills. We're in a crisis. Cool. I got it. I really just wanted the call to be over so I could fully embrace the crisis alone. If I could just sit here and debate dinosaurs, cook, reach out to my contacts; I'm sure I could cobble together a plan. It was like looking through fog but SWEARING you can see light? Is it a lighthouse? Or is my mind playing tricks on me?
Unbeknownst to me at the time, I had begun isolating all the edge and corner pieces. When you do a 25-50 piece puzzle with your kids it's easy. Even with a 100 piece puzzle. Which, duh! That's what my Grandmother told me I don't know how many years ago. "Start with the corners." Duh.
But wait a minute; DUH!!!!!! If I start with the corners and edges this would be SO much easier. DUH! It doesn't matter how many pieces there are, 750 or 1750. The process is the same. Do your corners and edges first. You build on that, and as you progress you can see clearly what's MISSING. Duh. Super duh. I took a sip of Cabernet and gathered all the corners and edges in one pile. All the variations of colors can come later, just do your corners and edges.
The call was almost over and I wanted to start cooking by 6 pm sharp. That would give me 30 minutes to build this puzzle frame out. I got this. And you know what; I don't know about a forklift, but I do (as a councilman in good standing) have a process for emergencies. Permits, the working overlap between state and/or local agencies, yeah that might be tricky. But if I can use the process from last years car show (for example) to fit my local volunteer agency, it might just work! If I can mirror the process used for a Fundraiser to benefit cancer research to fit the needs of a county; we can do this. Slowly but surely the crisis started to resemble merely a problem. Over time it went from a problem to merely an issue. And we got the job done safely. We even made the news!
Trust the process; and if you don't have one make one. Develop one. Create one, whatever. Intuition and instincts play a part too, but its better to be sure than to FEEL sure. That's the benefit of having a process and sticking to it. It doesn't eliminate problems, it simply provides you with a way to solve them. Sometimes you have to reevaluate things to do that as well. Have some wine, do something other than focus on the problem, and detach.
Just trust the process.