Bryan Cranston

Outcomes Versus Process- from Bryan Cranston

Bryan Cranston from the iconic TV series, Breaking Bad, wrote in his biography, A Life in Parts, about a switch that happened in his career:

“Early in my career, I was always hustling. Doing commercials, guest-starring, auditioning like crazy. I was making a decent living… but I felt I was stuck in junior varsity. I wondered if I had plateaued. Then, Breck Costin [his mentor] suggested I focus on process rather than outcome.

I wasn’t going to the audition to get anything: a job or money or validation. I wasn’t going to compete.

I was going to give something.

I wasn’t there to get a job. I was there to do a job. I was there to give a performance. If I attached to the outcome, I was setting myself up to expect, and thus to fail. My job was to be compelling. Take some chances. Enjoy the process.”

The danger for anyone working in the public eye is an unhealthy obsession with outcomes. A speaker who hopes her last talk will lead people to action and transformation. The entrepreneur hoping the presentation will lead to investment dollars. The mom that corrects a child desiring for better behavior. A writer hoping their novel makes a bestseller list so they can swim in boatloads of money.

Outcomes aren’t evil and wanting people to enjoy and find our work helpful isn’t wrong. Making a few bucks, some acknowledgement, and kind reviews, after our blood, sweat, and tears isn’t a problem.

But when outcomes become a hand around our artistic necks choking out the life and passion and authenticity of our work… Houston we have a problem.

Bryan Cranston mentioned later in his book what happened when he stopped obsessing over outcomes and focused on the process:

“Once I made the switch, I had power in any room I walked into… Which meant I could relax. I was free.”