Trust the Process

Have you ever been asked to “trust the process?”

It’s something I’ve invited groups or coaching clients to do, out loud and far more frequently in my head.

Why? Because the process of strategy building or navigating transitions can become fuzzier before it gets clearer, and if you give up on it too soon, you might be doing so just before the fog clears.

A metaphor I find helpful is that of cleaning out a closet — pulling everything out into a messy pile on your bed makes the room worse before it gets better. If you decided that tidying things up was a mistake based on the state of the mess halfway through, you’d risk being short-sighted.

So if you are in the messy middle, hang in there. Things will get better.

And yet…

I also recognize that trust in the process requires a level of comfort with the messy middle that some people may not [yet] have. The desire for tidiness, or certainty, or to see the end of the story makes it very difficult to relax in the middle.

I know that as a facilitator and coach, I have a high degree of familiarity and some degree of comfort with that messy stage. It is incumbent on me not to assume that my participants share that, but instead to reassure and steer them through it — explicitly, skillfully and often.

I also know that as a participant, if I am not confident a process is being well facilitated, I am very poor at trusting the process. No amount of asking me to is going to help.

Because ultimately, trusting the process requires trusting the person who is navigating you through it. So, when I ask a group to “trust the process,” I am actually asking them to trust me. And that is not something we usually ask for out loud — we earn it through our behaviour.

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