I remember the feeling I had when I first dreamed of starting my own business and building a company. It was as if the inside of me was lit on fire, and nothing was going to stop me. It was the beginning of a dream realized.
If you had been around at the beginning of that dream, you would have heard me talk about all the plans of what was going to happen. I would have told you how big the company was going to be and how one day all of these epic events were going to happen. I would have told you every last detail of what Adventurous Faith was going to become.
I love the future. I like to dream and believe what one day will come. But, there was a small problem I began to notice in my little dreamland. My focus was set too much on the future and not enough on the present.
Hang around me long enough, and you’ll learn I often “suffer” as a seven on the Enneagram and fly off the scale as an ENFJ on the Meyers Briggs. Thinking about the future and the possibilities of what could happen has never been a problem for me. But as my start-up began in its infant stages, I noticed there was a glaring hole in my thinking. My dreams of the future started to get in the way of working in the present.
The Problem With Dreamers
Allow me to throw myself and other dreamers under the bus for just a moment. Don’t worry – we won’t be here long.
We need a reality check.
Let me caution those of you who are trying to get a new business off the ground, pursue a new career, or just trying something new that requires a lot of work: you must consider the cost.
The future of commerce in business and in our commission to push God’s Kingdom forward in the marketplace doesn’t belong to the dreamers. It belongs to those who are willing to put their hands to the plow and suffer great, rewarding hard work that will produce a great harvest. The future belongs to the process, not the results.
Focus on the process, not the results.
Imagine with me for a moment you are sitting on the porch of a brand-new local farmer. As you’re talking, he turns to his empty but promising fields, a brand-new barn and shiny new tractor that doesn’t even share a scratch yet and tells you of what’s to come. He shares the hopes and dreams of what is about to happen over the next several decades of his farm and what he will produce. He’s way out in the future.
As you sit and listen to your new friend, you find yourself excited but also perplexed because this doesn’t sound like your typical, hard-working farmer. In your confusion, you ask him what the process he has in place to make all of what he described to you come to life. To your surprise, he doesn’t have an answer – only a wish, a dream. There is no plan to get him there.
You might laugh yourself right off the porch. Why? Because that isn’t how farming works. Farmers are hard-wired for a process. They put in long, tedious hours to produce a crop. In your new business, career, or idea, your focus must be the same. Focusing on the process is the calling of a Christ-centered, business person who wants to do great things in this world.
Dream big – but make your process bigger.
As followers of Christ, we have a responsibility to do excellent, well thought out process work. God’s desire for us is to not just dream, but be a process people.
“Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.” – Ephesians 6:7
Serving with a whole heart for God begins with becoming and working like a process-minded person. Here is what it looks like to be process-minded:
1. The process is what moves the needle forward today.
My coach kept pushing me in the early stages of my business – “Ben, what are you doing to grow the business today? What’s moving the needle forward?” I hesitated at first because I didn’t have an answer. I didn’t have the process. I had been too focused on my dreams.
The process in whatever you dream on begins with mapping out what is moving the needle forward today. What is the intentional work which is going to take you further today than where you were yesterday? Focus on this work.
2. The process is what you are doing to reverse engineer your dream.
The nitty-gritty process of details matter. These are small moving tasks that move you from point A to point B.
A few years ago, Fast Company published an article, defining productivity as velocity. They describe productivity or getting stuff done as something that can start slow but pick up speed when you break down your work into small, manageable tasks to pick up quick wins. In experiencing those small wins, our brain begins to steer in the right direction and pick up momentum.
Your dreams come to life in small, everyday tasks, not in large overwhelming feats.
If you want to get ahead and reach those dreams you keep thinking about, think small, not big.
3. The process is what most failed businesses ignored – the details.
While small, detailed tasks create momentum, sometimes the hardest work is found in those details. I struggle at times to focus on what is most important. But it is those most critical tasks that are the bread and butter of us having a successful business, or idea and making an impact in the world we live as Christians.
The most significant impact in business doesn’t belong in the most excellent idea; it belongs in the smallest of details that are thought through and executed.
People often get stuck here because it can be tricky.
Often, we work so hard in the details that we don’t know how to be done with something and ship it. We must learn to create work and details that keep the process moving.
God calls us to be people of work.
Here is what makes working in the process most important: It’s what we are called to do. We are called to be people of excellent, process driven work. God-honoring businesses and dreams are made of people who have decided to engage their world with purposeful, process driven work that speaks to the glory of God.
Never stop dreaming – but more importantly, never stop doing. Focus on the process, not the results.