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The Payoff Principle: On Process

In previous articles, I’ve looked at the power of purpose (the direction you take your life), and the power of passion (the fire that ignites purpose). The power of process is the final component of the payoff principle as defined by Dr. Alan Zimmerman in his book The Payoff Principle.  As you may recall, his formula is Purpose + Passion + Process = Payoff.  Simply put, it is the series of actions you employ with your skills to achieve your desired payoffs.  

How many times have you heard “trust the process, the results will come?”  That sounds great, but what if you don’t know what process to trust?  There are thousands of books and guides on various processes but there is no single book on process that will enable you to tackle every challenge you will encounter.  

Peter Drucker said, “We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast with change and the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn.”  In The Payoff Principle, Dr. Zimmerman identifies four critical processes behind every success story and explains how implementing these steps can more effectively transform purpose and passion into reality. The good news is that these four processes (two self-focused and two other-focused) can be learned and practiced by anyone.  Let’s run through them:

1) Affirming Achievement- How do you think about your life? The process of affirming achievement involves changing how you think about yourself.  It is the process of moving from “I can’t…,” “I never…,” “I’m not smart or good enough…,” “I shouldn’t…” by resetting your thinking to “I am good enough…,” “I am smart enough…,” “I can do…” These affirmations determine your mindset and how you show up every day.  You change your life and direction when you change your mind and focus.  Clearly thought out and written down affirmations give you focus towards the payoff you desire.

2) Continuing Education- Are you open to learning and change? Are you intellectually curious, always searching for more?  The process of continuing education acknowledges that you are always learning.  The portrait of your best self is never complete. Dale Carnegie said, “Knowledge isn’t power until it is applied.”  I like to think of the process of learning as a reminder that what got you to where you are in your profession or career won’t keep you there.  There is always something we can do to improve ourselves and we cannot settle for “good enough.”

3) Connective Communication- Does communication breakdown drive you insane? The failure to communicate is a core issue across organizations, teams and relationships.  The process of connective communication according to Dr. Zimmerman involves avoiding “communication breakups” or things that push people away from you emotionally and send a message of that you don’t trust, respect or care about them.  We need to replace those with “communication makeups.”  The message of a “communication makeup” is “you count, you matter, you are worthy of my time, energy and attention.”  Clear, open, honest communication is far more efficient than the destructive and time consuming results of a failure to communicate.

4) Compassionate Listening- Stephen Covey said, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”  Studies have shown this especially true the higher someone rises in an organization because they feel less “forced” to listen to others.  Of course, this is the time when they need to listen more and more compassionately.  The process of compassionate listening only begins with the listener listening with intent to reply.  Listening then evolves to listening to every word and nuance of the conversation and even further to listening at a level where you are aware of the mood, conscious, tone and impact of the conversation.  It means actively listening at a deeper level and understanding by clarifying facts and feelings with powerful questions.  American columnist Doug Larson summed it up, “Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening, when you would have preferred to talk.”  I have seen my business and relationships improve with this approach.  Perfecting the art of compassionate listening can provide you maximum payoffs.

The power of process is behind every success story and is a series of steps that you can implement into your daily life. Combined with the direction of purpose and the fire of passion, the power of process turns dreams into reality and helps you achieve the payoffs you desire.  

What will you do today to make this happen?

For more inspirational articles from Dan Sheedy, check out Performance Thinking with Dan Sheedy here.