Respect the Process

If you have been around a few of the Club members for long, you have undoubtedly heard the phrase "Respect the Process." Its can sound like some sort of joke when the person saying it is taking things easy or having a day off of the bike. It is no joke, believe me.

"Respect the process" is a simple concept that very few really understand, at least not right away. Let’s start off with a base for understanding, quoted from the Game Changer by Jorge Barba:…

"All human activities involve a process of mastery: People are impatient by nature, we want things fast and easy. We want money, success, attention all right now. The problem with this thinking is that it’s all in the short term by sacrificing ‘being relevant’ in the long term. What you want is to outlast your rivals, building a foundation for something that can continue to expand well into the future and this requires patience and tenacity.

Doing this is not easy because we have to fight our natural tendency to want things as fast as possible. It can be done, but you must learn to endure the hours of practice and drudgery, knowing that in the end all of that time will translate into a higher pleasure; mastery of a craft and of yourself.

Your goal is to reach the ultimate skill level, an intuitive feel for what must come next. To do without doing, to know without knowing."

When a person decides they want to do something – such as excel in a sport, it generally comes about in two ways: 1) The person finds he/she is naturally gifted in that particular activity or 2) The person has an internal desire to become good at a sport in spite of current physical limitations. Most often, it is the second of the two that drives the individual.

To use myself as an example, physical skill proficiency comes very slow to me. Mentally, I am able to grasp concepts and information very quickly and retain them for long periods of time. But with anything physical – whether it is driving nails or riding a bike – there is a long and sometimes difficult learning process. Because mental challenges are generally easy, the physical limitations I experience are extremely frustrating. 

Over the years I have set my sights on mastering a variety of sports or physical activities, and have generally had very positive results. None of them came easy though. Many times I would watch as others who started on the same ability level as I rush past me through stages of proficiency leaving me struggling to catch up. Sometimes it was that the other person had some advantage on me such as age or genetic make-up. Sometimes it was that they cheated by taking drugs. Either way I would be frustrated with my perceived lack of progress.

But, as I learned over the years, many of those who rushed past me never really reached the goal they were looking for. Sometimes it was too easy and they became bored and quit the sport. Other times they were either caught cheating or the drugs they took caused development at a rate their body couldn’t handle and they were forced to quit because of injury. Others, though, reached their goal through hard work and determination. They became the people I tried to emulate. They were the ones who respected the process. The fruits of their hard work were a sustainable success, one they could be proud of and enjoy for years to come.

Self-coached athletes are at a natural disadvantage because they see what they want to be and their drive often supersedes their judgment. They try too hard and many times come up short because of injury or overwhelming fatigue, or both. Coached athletes, in the hands of a good and wise coach, are pushed to the brink of exhaustion or injury, then allowed to rest, recover, and rebuild. This, my friends IS the process.

Can you be successful by cheating? Yes, until you’re caught. Can you be successful if you are naturally gifted in a particular sport? Of course. Can you be successful in a sport or activity with or without a coach even though at first you are the antithesis of the successful model of that sport? Absolutely.


By respecting the process.

First, set a tangible goal. Not “I want to do better.” but more like “I want to ride this speed for this long.”

Find out, through self-study or a coach, what the best course of action is to get to your goal. Make a plan and set your mind to sticking to it. If its a cycling related goal, be sure to include some other activities in your plan like running, swimming, yoga, or weight lifting. The surest way to injury is too much specificity. 

Take that plan and run with it. Work hard, take good care of yourself, push yourself until you’re fatigued, and then rest. Once recovered, start the process all over again. And again, and again.

Monitor your progress by charting your activity. Whether it’s a spiral notebook of scrawled notes, or a computer program that tracks your every heartbeat and pedal stroke, there is no substitution for accurate records to reflect on and to compare with your current state of being. Tiny gains in fitness are almost impossible to observe in practice but will be obvious on paper. Those tiny gains reinforce your resolve and teach you patience.

Finally, forget it. Do your thing with absolute commitment when you’re doing it, then go do something else. Something like expressing to your family how much you appreciate the time they allow you to pursue your current passion. Reward yourself for your hard work with a beer, a burger, or a bowl of Rocky Road. 

If you do all those things, it is almost a guarantee that the process you respected will pay off. If not in watts or seconds, the payoff will be in self-respect and self-improvement.