“Without commitment you’ll never start. But more importantly, without consistency you’ll never finish.” — Denzel Washington
These days, we repeatedly hear about the process.
“It’s the process.”
Yes, it is. And when we give it more definition, we realize that the process does matter. The process is all of the steps that comprise ANY endeavor. We cannot focus only on the prize at the end. It’s the journey that counts, of course. It’s how we plan and execute on that process and see it through to completion. We’re best to focus on that process.
Right. Got it. Good.
But what about the start and finish? Are they so old fashioned that we’ve lost sight of the two most important parts of every great venture?
A process means nothing if you never begin.
A process means nothing if you don’t know how to finish.
Processes are tools. Processes help keep us focused. They remind us of what we’re doing. Think about it — if you set out to write a book, you know that you need to first and foremost do the writing. You need to create compelling, interesting prose that you will be proud of, and that others will want to read! You have to edit your writing to ensure that it has flow and is error-free.
And of course, you need a cover, front and back matter, etc. But the most important part of writing a book is the uh… writing. Both beginning the writing, then finishing the writing of the book. Everything else pales in comparison. If you never begin, if you doubt, fear, worry, wonder, procrastinate, then you never begin.
And even if you do begin, if you do these things while you’re in the middle, and lose sight of the finish line, then you also will not reach completion.
The most important part of any venture is the doing. Which, of course, is why the process matters. But you first must begin! You must have the commitment and discipline to actually begin! Incredibly, this is lost on so many people. Conversations that I have with young professionals at conferneces, speaking engagements and in coaching remind me that dreams without goals are just dreams.
I’ve heard countless people tell me that they want to launch a vlog. Or they want to be an actor. Writer. Author. Entrepreneur. You name it. And guess what they haven’t done?
Nope, it’s not about having a website.
Nope, it’s not about having a marketing plan.
Nope, it’s not about the process.
They haven’t started. They haven’t even begun what their dream.
If you never start, the process will never matter. You must begin. You must commit and will yourself to do what you said you were going to do. You must try that strategy, try that idea out, give it a shot. As the old saying goes, “If you never try, you’ll never know.” There’s nothing quite like going for it. Because you absolutely will not know or understand what that means until you do it.
“Consistency is the true foundation of trust. Either keep your promises or do not make them.” — Roy T. Bennett
So surely, the process matters, and this article is not meant to diminish the importance of having a plan and process. Far from it. It’s meant to awaken our souls and minds to the reality that commitment and consistency are the essential underpinnings to every great venture. Commitment and consistency empower you to begin, to keep going and to reach the finish line.
Every great venture, every great story has an ending. Processes by definition are finite! This is from Merriam-Webster:
“a natural phenomenon marked by gradual changes that lead toward a particular result
a series of actions or operations conducing to an end.”
We should always focus on the process, but it’s imperative for us to muster up the courage to begin and to power forward to the finish line of whatever we start.
The best of the best
Denzel Washington is a man who knows this well. Breaking into a mostly white movie industry, he had roles thrown at him earlier in his career that would have paid him a lot of money, but ones that he felt compromised his integrity. He had a very tough decision to make — do I jump at what I can, begin and see it through to completion to take the big paycheck?
Or do I have a discerning mind and appetite for how I make my decisions? Do I use my intelligent mind to take ownership over what I choose to start and what I choose to finish. He knew he had a choice. He knew that everything began with commitment and a willingness to give it a go. If his heart wasn’t in it, he wouldn’t do it. He talks about how he had concerns of bringing negative energy to the set if he wasn’t committed.
So he decided to commit to what he truly wanted. He did so with fire, passion, love and belief in himself. And he got going and consistently applied himself to become one of the greatest actors in Hollywood history.
Finish what you’ve started
“It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently.” — Tony Robbins
The decision to empower ourselves with ownership and choice instills a sense of commitment, and leads us to wanting to press forward with consistency that leads us to the finish line. A process will help us, but so will a closing plan. What will it look like when we finish? What will success look like? How will we celebrate our success?
Having this presence of mind to identify that moment in the winner’s circle will drive you toward consistency. On those morning where you don’t want to get out of bed because you fear rejection. On those days on less sleep when your child kept you up all night. On those days where you fear getting started so much, your mind begins to wander and you consider turning back to old habits and vices.
Recognize that in those moments, you must press forward. Life and time stop for no one. If you want to go get what’s yours, you must begin. You must commit. You’ll never, ever know otherwise. As Theodore Roosevelt once wrote, what we should fear most is being in that wretched, “ place… with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Begin. Finish. The process will take care of itself. All three phases matter. Just remember how important it is to get started with commitment and close with consistency.
Seek the truth
This article first appeared on Medium.