Adam Grant is an organizational psychologist. He has spent much of his life studying highly successful people and their habits. In a recent article he shared 11 successful habits he has observed. One of the most interesting was something he called, “setting a mistake budget.” In other words, set a goal for the number of mistakes you will make in a week, or month, or year. When you know you are going to make mistakes, you worry less about their power over you, and just work on improving.
Many people and churches are very good at worrying about what could “go wrong.” Things “going wrong” have incredible power over them. It tells them that if they make a mistake, they might not simply suffer loss, but may not even survive. A risk paralysis sets in, in which it is always better to stay the course than to go off-road.
The truth of the matter is that mistakes seldom kill us, but often teach us. Most importantly, what they teach us is that they have less power than we thought they did. Once we realize this, we don’t mind staring a few mistakes in the face—and only by risking them can we attempt the changes needed to carry out our mission.
Pretend for a moment that you will make one mistake for every four goals you undertake. That means three will not be a mistake. Of those three, one may be a great success. Wouldn’t it be a shame to snuff out a potential success for fear of a potential mistake?
So, what would your church look like if it had a yearly mistake goal? Try that question at your next leadership meeting.
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Director of Development
United Methodist Foundation of Indiana