Lean into the Tension and Trust the Process

If you’ve never listened to Brian Koppelman’s podcast, you should (It’s called The Moment with Brian Koppelman).

Koppelman is a screenwriter (of Rounders and Oceans 13 fame) who will be coming out with a new show on Showtime called Billions.

But this post isn’t a Wikipedia entry on the guy. Go to Wikipedia for that.

This post was sparked when I listened to his July 7, 2015 interview with Seth Godin. Both of these guys have wonderful insight. And I was excited to hear what might come of their conversation.

Two ideas struck me:

  1. Tension is a good thing
  2. Trust your process

A corollary: if you’re seeking reassurance or to be validated by gatekeepers or those who seem to master puppets, then you’re trying to kill the tension you feel. That’s not good.

Let me explain from my perspective.

Tension Means You’re Growing

Tension only happens when you stretch yourself. When you get uncomfortable with the tension, you seek people to affirm that what you’ve done, to this point, has been good enough. This relieves the tension, hinders you from stretching yourself, and prevents further growth.

Instead of clamoring for reassurance, Godin offers this directive: Trust the process.

In other words, lean into the tension.

Since most of the readers of this blog are nonprofit leaders, let’s discuss I think this might mean to you. I’m an insurance man, so I might be wrong.

You have a mission, vision, and calling as a nonprofit.

There will be times when it feels like you’re banging your head against a wall.

You very well might be banging your head against the wall, but the wall is getting weaker.

Trust the Process – Your Process Helps Guide Tension Toward Growth

Trust your process that you’ve put in place to teach, reach, fund, counsel, redevelop the community, mentor, rescue, and care.

Trust your process over time. Pivot after you’ve given it time, edit, and reengage the process again and trust it. If you’re feeling tension, there’s a good chance you’re pushing toward the change you want to create.

In the end, fulfilling work will be hard work at times. But that’s the kind of work worth doing, no?

Here’s the four part progression that is key:

  1. Have your goal (hopefully a goal that stretches),
  2. Develop and decide on a process to get you there,
  3. Lean into that process over time,
  4. Adjust as needed and lean back in.

This progression works for most any type of organization, team, nonprofit, company, personal workout regimen, or any other effort that is worth anything.

Lean into the tension and trust the process and see if that won’t produce more and reap more effectiveness over time. The kudos will come, but we can’t stop short of our real goals when people pat us on our backs when we’re just getting started or are only halfway there.

Keep pressing.

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