Outcomes of processes are the only things worth paying for.

No matter what your role at work, you are paid for producing outcomes from processes. The people who get paid the most, produce the highest value outcomes. The people who get paid the least, produce the least valuable outcomes.

Producing outcomes is also valued—and thus rewarded—in ways that have nothing to do with money: Prestige, status, attention, awareness, these are all rewards that are tied to specifically produced outcomes that an audience, and organization, or an individual, value.

The most excellent move that a person who is a freelancer, a consultant, or an entrepreneur can make, is to raise the price of an outcome to reflect continued, growing value. Not because it costs them more to generate that outcome—in actuality, the production costs are sunk and meaningless after a certain point—but because the value of that outcome becomes more desirable to the market that individual provider serves.

We attach all kinds of subjective meaning to outcomes and since they are really the only things that we value, failure and success, while remaining subjective, become more and more acute and infinite. But only if the person or organization producing the valuable outcome is willing to let go of their attachment to the success or failure of a particular outcome.

Thomas Edison and Michael Jordan both “got” this distinction. But if you’re still wrapped up in the mindset of a particular granular success or failure outcome, then you’ve missed that larger lesson.

There are three big tips to come out of this line of thinking that will serve anybody well as they move forward:

  • Outcomes are the only things worth paying for, but sometimes an innovator can be too far ahead of the market (thus, the innovator designation) or a crackpot can be too far behind the market (thus, the crackpot designation). Each person has to decide where they want to be in relation to the market and what the process is to get to the outcome that they are seeking to make valuable.
  • Outcomes have nothing to do with comparison, and have everything to do with personal satisfaction. One of the larger problems with the social media landscape is that people display as if the outcome of a process is the only thing that can connect themselves with an audience. But showing the audience the process, slowly revealing why the outcome has occurred, is an outcome in and of itself. And worth rewarding, not with comparison, but with massive differentiation. Each person has to decide their comfort level with the slow burn of a long-desired reveal.
  • Outcomes can be argued and debated, but in the end, when it comes time to render payment, they cannot be denied. This is evident most baldly in the world of sports, where the distance between a process and an outcome is perceived as being immediate (though there is usually years of preparation, sacrifice, humility, and ambition behind any outcome), and is less evident in the world of teaching, or parenting. These are places where twelve to twenty years of a process leads to outcomes that cannot be denied. Each person has to decide their own pace at which they would like to move toward a reward.

Focus on the process, highly value the outcome, and price the outcome against the market accordingly.