Episode 142: Falling in Love with the Process with Paul Shirley
A National Merit Scholar and engineering major at Iowa State University, Paul Shirley played for 17 professional basketball teams in a nine-year career, including stops in Spain, Greece, Russia, and three teams in the NBA.
He’s the author of three nonfiction works: Can I Keep My Jersey?, Stories I Tell On Dates, and The Process is the Product. His first novel, Ball Boy, came out in February of 2021. In addition, Paul is the founder of The Process, which helps workers find structure, accountability, and community online and in person.
Getting Started in Sports (2:20)
Paul got his start in Engineering because it seemed like a practical way to show he was taking something seriously. He was raised in Kansas in a small town, and his family set up a basketball hoop outside the house, and Paul found this meditative state when out there playing. Basketball allowed him to be or act however he wanted as a free expression.
When he got to Iowa State, he realized he was behind many of his teammates. It was a great team, and his best chance of getting on the court was to be the hustler. He didn’t do much shooting in his college days, which contrasts significantly with the end of his professional career. Adaptation is critical, and he attributes his success in sports to his ability to be what the team needed at the time.
Finding a Passion for Writing (13:40)
Before he got into sports as a kid, he was a big reader, and it never occurred to him he could write his own stories. He started writing emails and blog posts for the Suns and found a way to communicate with people that allowed him introspection. He struggled in his post-basketball career with being himself, and it took him years to get in touch with what he values. As he ages, there’s a lack of caring that comes with it that makes being himself easier.
When working on the TV adaptations of his writing, he found that there were a lot of changes made to the story, and it became increasingly hard to stick to the one he’d hoped to tell. In many ways, his instincts were correct, but he started to cave in areas because of a lack of confidence.
Embracing Change (30:00)
We all fall victim to a tendency to lose steam around our self-belief. To grow and self-modify, we need to be open to new information and criticism. But if we’re too receptive, it can turn into self-doubt. That war is just part of it, and it won’t ever go away. But, as you continue on your path, you’ll get better at it and develop more effective coping mechanisms. So, when you fail, give yourself time to wallow and then rebuild your strategy.
There are so many opportunities for failure in sports, which was a great training ground for Paul’s post-career. Getting cut from teams, going to countries that didn’t work out, and last-minute fall-throughs were a constant battle, but it gave Paul the chance to wallow, regroup, and prepare for the next step. The baseline systems we have in our daily lives carry us back to stasis after a big failure, so it’s vital we have those systems in place. There’s no one way to do it: it’s finding the routine that works best for you as an individual.
Falling in Love with the Process (44:54)
What we have to have is an everyday sense of satisfaction. We’re all searching for a deeper meaning, but the truth is that day-to-day is all there is, and we’ll never get away from it. There’s no number of wins or milestones that will make us happy; if we can’t figure out what we love about our day-to-day, we’re in trouble. But hard work and joy don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
The truth about life is that where you’re going is constantly changing, what you initially set out to accomplish might not always be realistic for who you are or what you’re good at, and that’s okay. In his books, Paul hopes his readers achieve demystification and build the systems and routines necessary to set themselves up for success. It’s not as hard as it can seem.
Listen to Paul Shirley now and start falling in love with your process today!
- Website: https://www.createyourprocess.com
- Books: https://www.amazon.com/Paul-Shirley
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/paul-shirley-360b1649/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/paulthenshirley
Great podcast! I have been following Iowa State for 40 years and remember Paul playing. Still angry about that horrible call against Michigan State!!!