The law of process

In John Maxwell's classic best seller, '21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership' the third law is the law of process.
This states that leadership develops daily and not in just a day. It is about the power of daily consistency.


(By the way, if the idea of seeing yourself as a leader seems alien or awkward, please read my posts 'Who precisely is a leader?' and 'Why I am so passionate about leadership' first.)

The impact of a single day may seem insignificant and even trivial, but combine those days into years and decades and you will see an incredible effect. Rather like choosing to eat a chocolate cake on one day is neither here nor there, but compound that same activity over many years and you will see an observable result!

Or the other analogy is that of successful investing in the stock market. You are unlikely to be successful in a single day because successful investing and leadership is about sustained perseverance over a prolonged period of time.

We see that in nature the way a tree or a plant grows and develops. The seasons come and go, individual days may be helpful to the plant or not, but it still perseveres on and eventually given the right amount of time and circumstances an incredible tree can develop. in fact, given the right amount of time and circumstances it would be possible to fill the whole earth with a forest of trees.

The fact is all of us are in process. We all have things to learn and develop - none of us can honestly say that we have arrived. And yet it is vital to take time out to do and develop those things that are most important.

The problem is, particularly in our day and age, what we want is a quick fix and instant results. Rather like the man who prayed, Lord give me patience and give it to me now!

The law of process teaches that the journey is as important as the destination. For me that has been a lesson I have to keep on learning. I very much love to live in the world of ideas and possibilites. Exciting and as inspiring as that can be, the danger is that it is easy to discount the importance and relevance of the here and now, thinking that somewhere over the horizon is where the real action is.

But real growth and development happens behind the scenes where no one is watching. It is in the hours and toil of the Olympic athlete who trains and exercises in the early morning when everyone else is asleep or resting.

Anson Dorrance, who started the University of North Carolina Women's Soccer Program in 1979 and has been described as possibly the greatest collegesoccer coach ever and one of the most successful coaches in any sport has said:

The vision of a champion is someone who is bent over, drenched in sweat at the point of exhaustion, when no one else is watching."

The law of process applies to what goes on behind the scenes when no one is watching. It is about internal discipline and perseverance.

Where does the law of process apply to your own life?

What particular things about developing daily disciplines appeal or do not appeal to you?




Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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8 thoughts on “The law of process

    • I think it is about acknowledging and celebrating progress, but being inspired and motivated by ideals of perfection – ultimately only found in God Himself.

      • Thanks Karl
        Yes the law of process powerfully manifests itself in the financial world through the effects of compound interest so that if you gradually overpay your mortgage each month then you will be able to pay off your debt even more quickly.

  1. Sunhil, your comment \\\”The problem is, particularly in our day and age, what we want is a quick fix and instant results. Rather like the man who prayed, Lord give me patience and give it to me now!\\\” is absolutely right! I have a mortgage which has 19 years to go, which seems like an eternity away, and it\\\’s really eating away at any disposable income I have every month, however, if I just perservere and keep paying the mortagage, eventually I will own the flat and have somewhere to call my own. Nevertheless, winning £100,000 on premium bonds would be most welcome!!

  2. There is a lot to be said for effort. In my life, I have discovered that the journey we make is often as beautiful as the destination and even during the journey you can discover perfection. When something miraculous happens in my life spontaneously it is amazing and I feel so grateful, but when miracles occur following the fruits of efforts, this is also another feeling.A feeling that also makes perceivable our connection with the Creator. In fact, effort in itself can help us connect with the will of God.This for me, has been a revelation in my life, to which I will always be so grateful.

    • Thank you for your comments Magdalena.
      A quote from Goethe that illustrates what I think you are saying is:

      “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back– Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”

      So yes when we start then all sorts of surprising sources of help can appear. What I think we have to be careful about though, is not assuming that it is my efforts that some how make me worthy or acceptable to myself or God. There will always be occasions when I don’t measure up to my own standards (never mind God’s!). What we need then is an understanding of grace – that because of what Christ has done on the cross I am completely accepted by God. My efforts don’t earn my acceptance – it is Christ’s perfect efforts and ultimately through his sacrifice for me.

      That also gives me the power to continue to apply the law of process and not give up on myself or others.
      Thank you once again for sharing your thoughts!