How can you work towards something and see immediate results? 

Trust the process!

How can you work towards something with new tools, and expect a change in the outcome? 

Trust the process!

But, how many of us struggle to do just that, to trust the process? 

When we work towards something, we often take the path of least resistance. Meaning we go down the same route that we’ve always done, mostly because it’s easy and we trust the process, because we know it works. 

Now, this works perfectly well if we are doing the same thing, and expecting the same result. For example, following our favourite recipe for chocolate cake. We follow and trust the process, and get the same delicious cake out of it at the end. But what if we wanted cookies and followed the recipe for chocolate cake? We’d end up with a chocolate cake, and be completely disappointed because it’s not cookies at the end.

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” 

Einstein was right - we’re courting insanity because we’re following a cake recipe but expecting cookies at the end. If we want cookies, we have to trust a different process to get the end result. Both of them are delicious baked goods, but each process is entirely different, as are the outcomes.

(I know, food analogies are dangerous. I want cake & cookies now, too. But let’s get back on track.)

Singers Do This Too!

And it happens way more often than you think. How many times have you used a tried and tested process to learn a song, and it hasn’t gone the way you expected? For example, learnt a pop song but with a musical theatre style, and when you come to perform it, it’s far too Musical Theatre-y? Or learned a song by listening & singing to the original version, and when you put the instrumental track on you can’t follow it?

It’s the same thing! You’ve used a chocolate cake recipe to try and make cookies. 

So why is it when singers want a different outcome, they stick to the same process they’ve always known? 

Case In Point

One of my voice students is a chronic overthinker; they always want to be in total control of their performances so they can conquer their stage fright. In their mind, being in control of everything would get them the better performance they wanted, and the stage fright would disappear. So, they have been using the same process for quite a long time, and working hard at trying to gain that control.

Unfortunately, their process does not give them more control. Because they stick with the same process, they get exactly the same amount of control every time

And as a musical theatre performer, the control often lies outside the scope of the performer. So, as you may expect, this has actually made their stage fright worse - they have an increased need for control, but no increased opportunity to take it.

During one of our voice lessons, we discussed their concerns about performing, and I gave them some journal prompts designed to help them to identify the problems they may be coming across and why that might be.

At our next voice lesson, one of the first things they said to me was

When I was working through the journal prompts, I recognised that one of the recurring themes is that I just want to be in control of everything to have a good performance. And I know that needs to change because it hasn’t helped so far, so I just wrote down, ‘trust the process’, because that’s what our lessons are, a process!

This was a huge breakthrough for them. They recognised that the problem was their need for control, that the tools they had in place weren't working for them, and that they needed to change the process to get to the result they wanted. And all in one week!

And as I thought about it, I realised just how many singers I’ve met that find it so hard to achieve the results they wanted. And that brings us to part two.

In order to achieve your goals, you have to be open to trusting the process. And sometimes that means trusting the process of change.

Think about learning a new song. You get started, singing along with the original track as you learn the music, lyrics, texture and start to pull it all together. You sing with the original track all the time, at work, at home, in the shower, making dinner. And when it comes to actually showing this song off, you’re prepared, ready to go, but when you put the instrumental track on, you can’t find your cues and it’s all just a little bit off. You know you’re singing the right notes and words, so you put the original track back on and sing it perfectly. But the same thing happens again when you sing to the instrumental track - it just doesn’t work right.

You probably get a bit frustrated, and then decide to learn a new song - perhaps this one wasn’t right so you just ditch it. And then, the same thing happens again with the new song. And you start to recognise that this happens to you all the time - you learn something using the same process, but when you come to ‘perform’ it, it just doesn’t work the way you want it to.

Spoiler alert - it’s not the songs that aren’t right for you. Your process isn’t working for the results you want.

The way you learn something is the habit you are building. So, in the example above, you spend days learning this song, singing it with the original track so you can feel your way through. Then you want to sing it with the instrumental track, and you find it doesn’t work like you thought it did. So what is the problem? 

You have taught yourself to sing it, and thus perform it, with the original track. 

Basically, your chocolate cake recipe (learning with the original) led to a chocolate cake (performing with the original) but you wanted cookies (performing with the instrumental)! So you get frustrated, and start the process again, but it’s still the same recipe. You recognise that something needs to change, but what and how?

And this is where I see most people start to come unstuck. They don’t know what to do differently, they don’t know how to use a different process, much less trust a different process!

For our example here, the what would be changing the process slightly. The how is learning parts with the original track, including learning the cues and the backing music, and then moving over to the instrumental track. The trust comes from using the foundations of your original process, adding in some small changes in order to get to your desired outcome.

Trust the process, including the process of change.

Two things in this life are certain - paying taxes and change. But a lot of us struggle to trust the process of change, and instead prefer to stick to the old patterns. I have first-hand experience of this, because I have struggled with change my whole life. From little things like a different haircut, right up to big things like moving house. Even when I was in charge of the change, and driving towards the end result, I struggled to accept it as my ‘new normal’. 

But, in learning to deal with my own stage fright, and helping others deal with theirs, I have learned that change is necessary to move forward. We can use our old processes to get to a certain point, but after that, we need to use a different one to achieve a different outcome. It may not be pretty, it may not be easy, but achieving the end result and gaining new skills along the way is definitely worth it. 

Lifelong Skills

In order to trust the process, it is all about slowing down and taking the time to learn something. If you rush into a big change, especially with stage fright, it may not be sustainable and you end up right back at square one. On the other hand, by giving yourself a chance to slow down and move forward in a sustainable way, you start to allow yourself to trust the process more and more. You may also find subtle changes happening, like

  • Your confidence growing - meaning more confidence doing those uncomfortable tasks
  • Your mental resilience growing - meaning you’re able to handle sticky situations much better and bounce back faster
  • You have more patience - meaning you’re able to deal with those frustrating tasks and people without getting annoyed
  • You are more open to change - so you’re better able to deal with changes, both big and small

And the result of this? You are levelling up. You are moving closer to your full potential in all areas of your life, and learning the tools you need to trust that process. And that is what life is about!

In learning to trust the process, you can perform more confidently, in all areas of your life. 

Remember you can find me on Instagram, so come on over and join the discussion! And if this blog has inspired you, consider sending it to one other person who may need a dose of inspiration too.

Over and Out.