Thursday, July 17, 2008

Process vs. Product (revised)

It just occurred to me that one big difference between some of the "motivational/inspirational" authors I've read is related to process vs. product. Some of these "guys" are all about results, while others are more interested in what is happening along the way. That isn't to say that the author who says you should judge your success based on what kind of results you are getting isn't interested in your quality of life. Nor is it saying that the author who is more interested in the creative process or "living in the moment" doesn't hope you achieve some external measure of success. But there do seem to be a lot of books that mostly fall into just one category or the other.

What about you? I'd like to say I'm more of a process person than a product person, but honestly that's not really true. I like to have things I can point to and say, "I did that." At the same time, I do actually enjoy the process of working on my craft, of working on things generally. In the end, maybe it's about having a balance between the two -- creating a life that's enjoyable moment by moment and working towards a few things you can be proud of, point to, and say, "I did that." How about you? Do you enjoy the process of working on your craft? Or are you mostly interested in the end result? Or is it a bit of both?


Steph said...

I am product. I live for product. The process is one big long marathon of repeatedly convincing myself that I don't need to drink in order to work.

There are the occasional moments in the process that I love, as an ethnographer. I love being in the moment of an interview. I love just being there with another person, trying to learn whatever they have to give me, without obsessing right then about what the finished product will be. Then I start transcribing the interview and feel a mounting sense of hopelessness that this will ever be synthesized into anything coherent, ever.

The only thing that keeps me going the fact that I haves successfully finished things in the past, and during the process of every one of those things I had despair that it would ever come to anything. After I have the finished product in my hand, I retroactively develop a great sense of respect for process.

Andre said...

One of the big turning points in my life was learning to treasure process. For me, when I stop worrying about the finish line and concentrate on where I am-when I start *loving* the thing I'm doing *while I'm doing it*-things go much better overall. Love is a verb.

Jake said...

I've always been so strongly process based that I almost never finish a thing. I have so many little projects around the house that I've started, thoroughly loved working on, and abandoned, probably partly because that would mean I couldn't tinker with it anymore.

Makes it hard at work in a way, as I move into more product type responsibilities. I have to finish these things, much as I would prefer to tweak and putter.