April 9, 2015

“Aha” Moments

Have you ever heard, ‘if we could just solve the problem of x in our parish strategy, we'd be ready …”?

I was on the plane on my way to visit a client. I picked up a “Psychology Today” magazine which featured  this article: “Eureka: Is there a way to manufacture an ‘aha’ moment…or at least improve the odds of having one?” 

The article, by author Bruce Grierson, described a variety of studies that indicate that many of the moments we experience as transformational or life changing is a result of our brain in an “idle” or “prepatory” state of mine. Essentially, our subciousious spends time collecting information and the “aha!” moment occurs when the filter temporary allows the culmination of these ideas to the forefront of our conscious.

The author goes on to cite different ways of encouraging this state of mind—at one point noting “Instead of spending time on a mountain top incubating a solution, could you instead keep doggedly trying things?” In the process of trying things, we can then gain the experience necessary to prompt the “aha” moment.

Sometimes parishes can get bogged down in perfectly worded mission statements and strategic plans. We worry that if we could just get everything right, we'd be ready for a strategy. We become inhibited to move forward till we get things right – only we aren't really sure what to do to get things right. Anxiety inserts itself in the system and suddenly no one wants to make a move forward or backward. 

Part of both discernment and strategic planning is looking at what is vital importance to a parish and then looking at opportunities within a parish’s mission. Sometimes initiatives will fail. Sometimes they will succeed but not at intended level or measurement. 

These experiences, though potentially frustrating or paingful, are opportunities for the community as a whole to gain experience and in the process…be transformed. Parishes that are willing to experience new opportunities are organizationally prepared for new learnings, new insights and growth. They are ready for a collective “Aha!”

When has your parish experienced a collective “Aha!” moment? When have you chosen to doggedly keep trying things instead of incubating a solution? 

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