You Can't Cheat the Process

"The big secret in life is that there is no big secret. Whatever your goal, you can get there if you’re willing to work." - Oprah Winfrey

Most things in life that beg to be acquired comes with a process which you have to go through in order to attain it; well if you think about it, even life itself is a process. We are born, and if your life takes a natural course, you will grow up, and then grow old and die. There is no cheat code you can use to skip stages in your life; you can’t cheat the natural course of life.

In order to get to where you want to be or become the person you need to become, you have to follow a certain process, a process that you cannot cheat. To get through the process you need to have something that is sometimes called the hustle or the grind. To accomplish anything you need to hustle, the level of hustle you will have to do is dependent on what you want to achieve and how far off you are from your goal.

It does not matter what industry you are in, there are no shortcuts to attaining lasting success, you will have to do what is required, the process, and you will have to put in the work. Our natural inclination is to lean towards the shortcut, towards the easy way of getting through what is required of us. Most times what is required of us is ‘hard work’ and that puts many people off.

Many people will do what’s easiest and avoid hard work — and that’s precisely why you should do the opposite in order to achieve what you want and get through the process. What process you have to go through to achieve lasting success is different for everyone, not one person is the same and therefore you can’t have one exact same to do list that will work for everyone. At the end of the process is success, though, to get through the process that will lead to your long lasting success, they are certain demands that you need to fulfill in order to get through it all.

One of those demands is sacrifice. Your sacrifice would be demanded in many forms. It could be in your finances, your friends, your effort, your current work, your relationships or your number one resource your time. And at times we will be required to sacrifice who we are for what we will become. That would mean changing all your habits that make you who you are and adopting other habits that will enable us to succeed. No one has ever achieved anything without sacrifice, we have all made sacrifices at one point in our lives and the grind will require more sacrifice from us.

Another notable demand that I may have alluded to earlier is hard work. ‘Yah that’s so cliché’ you may think, but there really is no substitute for hard work. To perform at an exceptional level you need to have an input of high level practice and experience. Evidence from numerous examples has shown and will continue to support this fact. If you want to go through the process and get to other end where you will find success you will have to put in the hard work. Success and greatness are not just given to anyone. You have to grab it through a lot of hard –sometimes painful- work. Most people like talking about ‘how to’ get something but really have no idea what is required of them to achieve it. Figure out what the process is, what it requires from you and then become relentless, even if you have to psychologically force yourself to follow through with it. At the end of it all is success. You can’t cheat!

You're not going to out-work me. It's such a simple, basic concept. The guy who is willing to hustle the most is going to be the guy that just gets that loose ball. The majority of people who aren't getting the places they want or aren't achieving the things that they want in this business is strictly based on hustle. It's strictly based on being out-worked; it's strictly based on missing crucial opportunities. I say all the time if you stay ready, you ain't gotta get ready.” - Will Smith

With the reopening of schools in 2020-21, many people have asked what we will do without testing and how this will change our work, like we won the lottery or a free pass for the school year. My reply to this type of question is simple...we are going to not only do what we always do, but we will work harder than ever because our focus is on the process and not the outcome because we believe the outcome takes care of itself when we focus on mastering each part of the process in providing students the best possible education in a safe environment.

The things we’ve done that have raised test data tremendously is simply effective best practices and personalizing learning to help each child grow and perform at their best. Our focus is on the process each day. Coming from a coaching background, I’ve always been a believer in focusing on the things we control and giving our all to each part of the process of preparation. In his book, “They Call Me Coach”, John Wooden said that he never talked about winning with his players. He always focused on proper technique, effort, conditioning, and teamwork. He believed if you prepared properly, winning would take care of itself. In his book “Faith in the Game”, Tom Osborne said his Nebraska football teams focused on the process in making sure they did everything they could to give them the best chance to be successful and each player playing to their maximum ability and as a team. Osborne saw winning as a by-product of sound preparation. Vince Lombardi conducted an entire coaching clinic around one play, for an entire day, over eight straight hours on the Packer Sweep. Every detail down to each step every player took, where their eyes should be focused, the angles of every movement, what they should anticipate, where the play should be run and the sill to run to daylight. In his book “Finding the Winning Edge”, Bill Walsh says that confidence is found in preparation. Some of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time, Joe Montana and Steve Young, describe Bill Walsh’s West Coast Offense like a choreographed dance or ballet where every intricate detail of every step and movement is calculated and taught for every player on the field to have perfect timing and placement. The focus is on the process and not the outcome, the results take care of themselves when we focus on doing the process to the best of our ability.

As a coach, we wanted to emphasize with our players is how they play the game – the process of preparation, the effort they display during the game, the attitude they carry on the field. These are all things that we can control and that reflect on the process of athletics and also in the process of education. Many times the end result – the win or the loss – we cannot control. It may hinge on the bounce of the football, it may depend on who has the better athletes, it may depend on an official’s call or could depend on how a child feels on the morning of testing. . As we move into the new school year and the much anticipated return to school from the coronavirus pandemic, not only should we do all of the best practice instruction strategies and a multi-tiered system of supports, but we should be even more intricate and detailed in our planning…..both instructionally and for the safety of our students! We will ensure our curriculum is aligned and blend standards for multiple exposures more than ever. We will integrate technology and have a more detailed plan for remote learning than ever. We are going to prepare for social distancing and cleanliness procedures more than ever. In classrooms, our focus will be on our high impact instructional strategies that are best practice in every classroom to include: Clear Learning Goals, Instructional Pacing, Explicit Teaching/Questioning, Data Motivated Instruction, Cumulative Daily Review, Classroom Discourse, Literacy Across the Curriculum, Formative Assessments, and Reflective Practice. As a team, we are going to create a system of peer feedback and a culture of collaborative support in becoming masters of our profession. These are all parts of the process of effective and high-performing schools. This is our focus, the outcome will take care of itself with our without a standardized test. Providing our students with the best possible instructional experience is what we must be committed to....regardless of the format when we return to school.

Ultimately, we have to look in the mirror and answer to ourselves about our dedication to mastering each part of the process. Is our curriculum aligned and integrated, blended, and differentiated to reach each student? Do we implement a common instructional framework of best practice instructional strategies in every classroom every day? Do we focus on the most highly impactful instructional strategies for students’ success? Do we have a plan in place and utilize this plan to make sure our classroom assessments are planned, predictive, and have a plan to remediate with students as needed? Are our instructional practices equitable and not just equal so that it fits each child? Do principals, as instructional leaders, practice what they preach with high instructional expectations and does their practice reflect this priority? Do we integrate technology effectively and have a detailed plan in place for remote learning if needed? Have we embraced the transition to technology based instruction to give our students the opportunity to learn during a pandemic? Do was have a community of instructional learning to support teacher growth in a safe setting? Does our professional development align to instructional expectations and follow up with support and guidance for continued growth and improvement? Does the culture of our school support teachers? Is the best interest of students prioritized over what’s easiest for the adults in school? We must be committed in our culture and leadership actions that “You Can’t Cheat the Process” to be successful and outcomes will take care of themselves, no matter whether we test or not, as we focus on mastery, personalizing education, and creating a safe environment for learning.

"Many people will do what’s easiest and avoid hard work — and that’s precisely why you should do the opposite in order to achieve what you want and get through the process. You can’t cheat the grind, it knows how much you’ve invested, it won’t give you anything you haven’t worked for.” - Eric Thomas