Recently, I re-read Viktor Frankl’s famous book Man’s Search for Meaning. In it, Frankl details his time in concentration camps during the Second World War. Over a period of three years, he was subjected to extreme physical and emotional torment in four different camps. Torment that could have destroyed him. Yet, he came out with a world view that was different, and a perspective on life that was profoundly moving to me as I read. He thought deeply about the horrifying struggle that he and so many others went through and applied it to his own life and, through his writing imparted what he could to the lives of others. His time in the concentration camps was not an end. It was a means; a process that helped mold him into the man he was meant to be. For Frankl, the process was an important part of his growth.
To me, that book is a tremendous lesson on perspective. We all go through challenges but seldom do people go through a challenge of the same magnitude as Viktor Frankl. I know mine simply cannot be compared to the torment of a concentration camp. Yet, I sometimes complain and wish the weight of my trials could be lifted off of my shoulders. In doing so, I realize that having that weight lifted would not be for my benefit. The process of challenge is slowly molding me into an improved version of Sean. The same is true for you.
What is the Process?
It was trendy for some time in career and professional circles to describe oneself as “goal oriented.” I suspect that most people who used the term were attempting to find a sexier way of saying they were ambitious. It seemed for a while as if the word “ambition” somehow had a negative meaning attached to it. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with ambition; the very definition suggests not only a desire for achievement, but a willingness to do the work to attain it. In the whole scheme of things, goals provide the target. Ambition provides the drive to hit that target. The journey between our present state and our goal is called the process.
I’ve found that people who expect that the act of reaching a goal will be a life altering, overnight metamorphosis are usually very disappointed. Life the day before a goal is achieved is much the same as life the day after. However, when changes are looked at in terms of the process we go through, often the transition is profound. It’s not going from zero to one million dollars overnight. Rather, it’s like building that fortune over a long period of time. The last dollar earned to reach one million doesn’t change our life; but the mundane, daily collection of one dollar after another adds up to magnificent change. True value is in the process.
It’s easy to see, that the process is where we spend most of our time. Reaching a goal is a singular point in time; it’s static. The day to day struggles and triumphs of life are lived out in the process. If we convince ourselves that we can only be happy upon the attainment of some distant goal, we’re in for a disappointing life indeed. If the majority of life is lived in the process, it stands to reason that finding joy in the process translates into a joyful life.
Where we grow
The process is where we learn and where we grow. It’s where relationships are made and talents are discovered, formed, and refined. The key is to allow yourself to become excited for those opportunities! Have you ever desperately wanted to learn everything you could about a topic? Have you been excited to read about it, study it, and develop skill in it? If not, now’s the time to find your passion! Passion is the great lubricant of the process; it eases the wear and tear that the daily grind of life can inflict on our spirits. What are you passionate about?
Take that passion and press through the challenges of life. It’s there that you’re molded into an improved version of yourself. It’s a process that we’re all meant to go through with challenges that are profoundly different from one individual’s life to another’s. The uniqueness of our challenges serves as a course perfectly tailored to address our weak spots and help us grow. The process is the purpose.