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  • Writer's pictureJack Mullaney

Success is...

"I think I know my definition of success, which is sticking to my process, because I know what failure is. Failure is leaving that process. And once you identify what that [process] is, you've got a roadmap to live holistically."

That was New Jersey Devils defenseman Connor Carrick on his podcast, The Curious Competitor, a few weeks ago. At only 26, Carrick's words carry wisdom beyond his years.

It's become cliché to talk about "the process", in part because it's largely been used as an antidote to fixating too deeply on an outcome. While many cite "the process" as their point of focus, how many can actually identify what that is? Is there actually a process, or is the use of the word a construct to describe the idea of continuous development?

For me, getting clear on my process to improve as a coach has been the key to unlocking success, if we're using Carrick's definition.

It includes five daily components:

  1. Exercise - Overall wellness (physical, mental, emotional) is a prerequisite to being the best I can be. Exercise (usually running, sometimes lifting, sometimes both) helps me achieve that.

  2. Learn - I listen to a podcast of educational value or read from a book every day (many days, it's both). Constantly exposing myself to new ideas helps me stay sharp, question what I know, and close gaps in my expertise.

  3. Write - Having a daily writing practice provides a space to organize the thoughts I'm having and things I'm learning. Oftentimes, we think we know something well until we try to write about it. Doing so is a good litmus test to see how clear and concise I can be on a topic. It also helps me better commit the idea to memory.

  4. Connect - I've long believed that success in coaching is a byproduct of strong connections. Connecting with at least one athlete (oftentimes many more) each day helps to continue building those connections.

  5. Schedule - I ensure that I've scheduled components 1-4 for the next day every night before going to bed. I've found that if I don't play offense and put each component on the calendar, the day will get away from me.

Being clear on my process has given me a sense of confidence in knowing that, over time, the accumulation of staying committed to it increases my chances of improving as a coach. That's not to say there won't be difficult days, setbacks, and failures in the future. It's just that having a clear process allows me to take control of my development in an organized way.

For now, that's success.

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