by Maggie Lovins, Congregational Life Consultant
As we move in 2014, many of us have new goals, new resolutions or aspirations for a new way of being. We often start off with mass amounts of enthusiasm and gusto only to have this momentum wane in the coming months. Whether this waning is due to daily life ‘getting in the way’, lack of motivation, or the goal not being realistically achievable, I would like to give us all a reminder to be gentle with ourselves. We as Unitarian Universalists hold ourselves, and others in most cases, to a very high standard. With this in mind we must be more comfortable with allowing ourselves to experiment and to stand on our growing edges to imagine what could be.
As Kenn Hurto explained in his last blog post on Jan. 3rd, the concept of “experi-fail” is being discussed at many levels of leadership. I like this concept for many reasons, mostly I appreciate it's permission giving. “Experi-fail” gives us ‘permission’ to step out in Faith, to take risks and try new things without the focus on failure, but on the adventure of discovery to come! Utilizing this thought process gives ourselves, and others, permission to unfurl our wings and see exactly how high and far we can fly, it gives us permission to go boldly into the next phase of being Unitarian Universalists. It is this part of permission giving that allows our fear or anxiety to fall away. If we were to rid ourselves of the fear of showing we are truly human and fallible, and the anxiety of possible judgment for not reaching that goal of 100% what could we dream?
Experimentation does not always spell success, but the lessons we learn from what does not work are just as valuable as the lessons of what does work. We learn what is not the right course of action for a particular situation, what variables need to be changed, and as long as we are learning, as long as we have grown from the experience then we have not failed!
If we removed the anxieties of perfection for just this year, what could we really accomplish? How deep could we really go? What good works as a Faith community could we achieve? Maybe one of our resolutions should be to experiment more and worry less about the perfection of the outcome. I invite you to ponder these questions and others that arise in your meditations on how you could use the “experi-fail” concept in your personal and congregational lives. And then, when you’re ready, step out in Faith knowing that success is as great of a probability, (and maybe even more when we stop second guessing ourselves!), as failure when you allow yourself to experiment, be bold, innovative and courageous!