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  • Writer's pictureCoach Knickerbocker

The Product vs. The Process

Are these the calloused hands of medal winning rowers or rowers who came in 6th out of 6 boats?

Does it matter?

What’s a medal?

It’s the actual proof of your success, yes? It’s the evidence that you have sacrificed blood, sweat, and tears to wear this prize, right? It’s the tangible product that proves on this day, in this race, you were faster than every other crew out there.

So what.

Don’t get me wrong, medals are great, and winning is great. I’m just as competitive as the next rower or coach so YES, I love to win.

Raise your hand if you DON’T want to win.


I obviously can’t see you but I’m going to guess that no one is raising their hand because winning is wonderful. Winning feels good.

No argument there.


You have no control over winning.

Hate to break it to you but winning doesn’t happen just because you want it or you’ve worked hard all winter or you’ve survived exhausting pieces in practice, or you have a sub 7:30 erg score.

Everyone wants to win.

It’s the people who have an answer to the question, “What am I willing to do to win?”, that are closer to the prize than those that have not asked that question or not strategized their process.

And that’s exactly my point.

It’s the process that drives the result. Not the product.

There has to be something other than the win driving you to perform at your highest level in order to sustain the energy needed to continually improve. Your process needs to be the experience that fulfills you because the winning is fleeting.

What is your driving motivation for rowing?

Is it the medals? Is it the winning?

Taken at the University of Washington Boathouse, Seattle WA.

Or, is it the way you feel when you finally make a technical change that you’ve been searching for, or feeling good that you are fitter than you were last sprint season, or maybe it’s just the way it feels when you get that stroke just right?

Winning and medals are not anything that you can count on or control. But you do have control over how committed you are, how patient you are, how hard working you are, how resilient you are. You do have control over your strategic approach to your rowing (different than racing strategy).

How do you navigate through the the process of being a competitor vs. the product of winning?

1. Focus on what you can control of your process, and not on the outcome.

2. Take some time to ponder how best to strategize your process in order to drive the result that you want. Whatever that is.

3. Then enjoy engaging that strategy! Enjoy the experience of yourself becoming better, stronger, faster, and not having that experience revolve around whether you walk away with some hardware or not.

In other words, cliche as it may sound, enjoy the journey.

To answer the question I posed above about those rowers calloused hands...

No, they did not win a medal that day.

But the commitment they put in as evidenced by their calluses, and their pride in showing them off to the world translated into confidence, which then translated into wins.

Did they focus on winning? No.

They focused on working hard, committing to the process, and supporting each other to push past their perceived limits.

Drive the process, not the win.

The winning will take care of itself.

Next post: My Take on Competitive Identity

Row hard, row well, compete, have fun!

Coach Knickerbocker

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