Your Life. Is it a Process?

Road and Stars.This image is CC0!

Why is this question important at all? Lean Self is about improving yourself. However, you cannot simply say, “I want to improve” and hope that it happens. As discussed ealier and contrary to a widespread misunderstanding, visualizing your future self will not be enough.

Lean Self is about doing things and producing tangible results in order to improve. For that, understanding life as a process is helpful. I call this “process thinking,” and it is a tool for action driven improvement.

To discuss if your life is a process, we should first have a common understanding of the term “process.” The simplest definition is the following:

A process is a series of organized actions.

Now, that is not the full truth. Each process requires an input and produces an output. Furthermore, without somebody doing the actions, a process will not happen. Summing up these ingredients we can see if your life is a process:

  • You do things, so the “action” part is there and also somebody responsible for the “doing.”
  • You use input, be it material (like food) or immaterial (like communication with others), so the “input” part is available.
  • You produce things in your life, both material and immaterial, so the “output” part is there.

One might argue that a process is only complete and well organized if it is written down. This may be important in a business setting, but for self-improvement, it is at least not essential. Although, sometimes writing down how and why you do things may be a good idea.

Before going into the detail, you should be aware that it is not helpful to see your life as one single big process. This is just the starting point of the discussion. In reality, your life is a large number of processes, running in parallel or one after another, interconnecting with each other, and communicating with processes in your surroundings. For example, when you are having dinner with a friend at a restaurant, there are at least five processes to be considered:

  • You are talking with your friend (you could say these are two processes: you are talking and listening, and your friend is talking and listening).
  • You are eating.
  • Your friend is eating.
  • The waiter is bringing food and removing dirty dishes.
  • After the meal, you or your friend will pay the bill.

Of course, this example is rather trivial, on the one hand, and focusing on minor details on the other hand. You will not need to look at such simple processes in most cases.

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