One of the ideas that we champion at EDAC is the need to “trust the process.” This is a phrase that I first heard from Ronnie del Carmen during a Storyboarding workshop at the Banff Centre. The phrase immediately resonated for me because it was an idea that I was familiar with having worked as an actor in theatre for fifteen years. It immediately became part of my multitude of phrases that I unleash on unsuspecting students. In fact, our faculty at EDAC began use the phrase in their work too. It found its way into our teaching regimen, and we would often bring students up to speed through several steps.
- Know there is a process
- Learn the parts of the process
- Use the process to come up with a plan
- Follow the process to complete the work
- Celebrate the successful completion of the process
This has been a greatly successful concept for helping creative people shape their ideas into a reliable final product. It should work! After all, it is a process!
Recently, a grad from our illustration program, Jasmine Abbey, emailed me to say she had an epiphany about this idea of “trust the process.” She said that she finally was starting to understand what I meant. We had worked together on a very intense project for the Citadel Theatre last year. It was a project that was a huge venture for Edmonton’s regional theatre, and the stakes were high. Our involvement involved the design and implementation of projection visuals that were unlike anyone at the Citadel had ever seen produced in the theatre before. Jordan Dowler-Coltman (my co-designer) and I were two peas in a pod on the outside edge of theatre production at the Citadel. Through this journey, Jasmine often thought that there was no process. How can you champion process, and then not use it when a real production comes along?
In her email, Jasmine pointed out something that I have overlooked. It was so simple. We teach the process, but rarely talk about the trust aspect of the idea. Such a simple thing. One that I overlooked because I have lived this idea from my entire career. It is second nature for me to use the process, and trust it will play out to a successful conclusion. It never occurred to me that someone less familiar with the process might suffer stress from an inability to trust.
This notion went off like a bell in my mind. Suddenly, I realized that we have been so focused on the process and the proper teaching of it, that we completely left off the trust component. Learning to trust is hard to do. Learning to trust a process that you have no idea what it will lead to can incite internal panic!
What does trust mean when talking about this idea of “trust the process?”
- Do everything you can to plan your process. Understand that this plan will change, but like any good wayfinding skill or tool, it will be easier to make course corrections if you know where you are and where you need to be.
- Trust that you will have periods in the process that you will need to put energy in and other periods where the momentum of the project will require you to simple ride with it. Learning when to apply energy and manipulate the project and knowing when to let go and let things play out takes practice, lots and lots of practice.
- Make sure you keep track of where you are. You might not be in control of the process at some points, but knowing where you are is vital to ensure you are alway pointed in the right direction.
- Trust does not mean abandoning your plan anymore than the process means controlling your plan. Both notions are false.
- Do what you can. Be impatiently patient. If something needs to happen that isn’t going according to the plan, either wait, or find another way.
- Your plan is only successful if you reach your goal. Changing your plan mid-way is risky, and will result in the successful completion of a new plan. The old plan must be considered a failure. If that is acceptable, go with the new plan.
None of these items are anything new or earth shattering. When you combine them with the process, suddenly “trust the process” has a new dimension of power.
Thanks Jasmine for sharing your epiphany. Now, let’s go forth trustfully, mindfully, with whatever process we are working on.