Process Versus Outcome: Which Is More Important?

process versus outcome

Which is more important? The outcome you’re trying to achieve? Or the process you go through in your pursuit? This “process versus outcome” question has been on my mind this week — both with my work and in my personal life.

Process Versus Outcome: It Depends On the Setting

In some areas of life its relatively easy to answer the “process versus outcome” question.

Take education for example. Everyone knows that the outcome (a good grade) is secondary to the process (learning the material).

And in some life or death situations like a heart attack, the outcome (saving a patient’s life) is much more important than the process (using a defibrillator that could cause severe burns).

But in many areas of life, it can be more difficult to determine which is more important.

Personalities Affect “Process Versus Outcome” Tendencies

I’m a very driven person. My personality places an emphasis on setting goals and then moving heaven and earth to achieve those goals. I’m usually happiest when I’m tackling a big project, and I’m within sight of the finish line.

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You could say that I’m “extreme right” on the process versus outcome continuum.

On the other hand, I’m married to a very laid back woman. Brittany’s love language is “quality time” and she enjoys the process of being with people or working on something she’s interested in. Often, it doesn’t matter to her if something gets done or not.

Brittany leans farther to the “left” side of the process versus outcome continuum.

Both of us have some great strengths.

If you want to have fun, enjoy a shopping trip, get comforted after a break up or a disappointment, Brittany is the one you want to hang out with. If your goal is to get a project done, push yourself a little harder, or organize your basement, I’m your guy.

Of course, both of us have weaknesses too.

It’s hard for Brittany to stick with a big project and push through to get it done. On the other hand, there have been times when I’ve hurt my family by focusing on getting things done instead of the people that really matter.

I think it’s safe to say, whether you’re on the left or the right side of the “process versus outcome” tendency, you can definitely learn something from the other side.

And if you’re a well balanced person with strengths on BOTH sides, that’s great! I’d love to hear more about how you got to that balance.

Process Versus Outcome With Investing

This “process versus outcome” idea has been on my mind this week as I’ve been writing a special report.

I’m working on the quarterly report for my Family Wealth Circle investment service. This service includes three model portfolios that I manage. Members can follow along with their own investment accounts.

If you’re a Family Wealth Circle member, you can expect the report to hit your inbox early next week. And if you’re not a member but you’re interested in the service let me know. We’re not currently soliciting new members but I can try to get you a special invitation. Just shoot me an email (Zach@ZachScheidt.com).

Writing the report took me back to my old days as a hedge fund manager. After spending months working to find opportunities to grow our clients wealth, we would issue our quarterly report.

The report would include a reconciliation of our positions and some commentary on the market. At first, I thought we should write up more detail about the individual situations we were tracking in the market.

But as I soon found out, our clients were much more interested in the outcome than they were in the process of investing their funds.

But true investors (people who manage their own money – not investors in other people’s funds) know that the process of investing is every bit as important as the outcome.

Anyone can have one or two successful trades. It’s even possible for a novice to string together one or two years of success. But real lasting investment success comes from having a process for identifying, researching, and ultimately buying and selling investments.

Without a well-crafted process, it’s impossible to consistently win.

Process Versus Outcome In Life

A few years ago, my little brother challenged me to run a marathon with him.

As an “outcome oriented” individual, I was all about achieving the goal of running 26.2 miles. When the day came, I was trained and ready. Both of us crossed the finish line and accomplished our goal.

But looking back, you know what I have realized?

The best part about that challenge was not reaching the finish line. The very best part was actually the process of training for that marathon.

During that time, my brother Isaac and I spent hours running together. It was during that time that he laid the groundwork for his new business. Today, Isaac is a successful entrepreneur who helps small businesses build websites. He’s actually the one who designed this site for me. (You can see more of his work at MyRamp.co.)

This was also a challenging period in my own life. I had some drama with a business I co-founded as well as some family relationships that were strained.

Bottom line, the process of running this marathon was instrumental in building a bond between brothers. It helped to clarify a business strategy for a new entrepreneur. And it was a time to talk through and process some curve balls that life threw me.

Set Goals For Outcomes, But Embrace the Process

What I’ve learned (and am continuing to learn) is that it’s perfectly well and good to have goals and focus on outcomes. In fact, most successful leaders are great at setting and achieving personal and professional goals.

But it’s equally important to embrace the process of achieving those goals. After all, that’s where the real growth happens.

Do you have goals that you’re striving towards? Outcomes that you hope to achieve?

I’d love to hear about them.

Just as much, I’d love to hear about your process for getting there.

What can you learn along the way? What relationships can be strengthened in the process? What strengths and skills can be acquired?

Just something I’m thinking about as the week wraps up.

Have a great weekend!

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