Blunder, Bet and Boast Your Way to Significant Achievements

You want to make a difference, do something significant, but you feel that you mostly do the same old, same old.

Maybe you have a book in you. Or an idea to start a ministry in your community. Or a way to help others improve their lives. Or you want to start a business.

But you’re going nowhere.

It’s human nature to want to know all the steps before getting started. It’s natural to want to have it all figured out before making the big move. And that’s what will keep you stuck.

I was discussing starting a training program for camp and retreat leaders recently. I said, we just need to try something. Perfect is the enemy of done.

Here are three strategies for getting started.

Blunder

Bonnie Blodgett calls herself the Blundering Gardener. She uses the term blunder because she will start a project without knowing how to do it. It requires learning along the way, which will inevitably lead to some blundering.

When you take on something new it will take longer than you expect. You’ll encounter obstacles. You’ll get stuck. But that’s part of the learning curve. Achievement nearly always includes learning. In the real world, that means blundering.

If you wait to become an expert at something, you’ll never get started. If you start something and learn along the way, then you’ll get something done. You won’t become an expert, at least not right away, but you WILL get better as you go. Blunder.

Bet

In his book, Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries, Peter Sims makes the case that experimentation is the key to finding big ideas. This sounds obvious when I say it this way because when we think of scientific discoveries, we automatically think of experimentation. But how often do you think that way in ministry? Or in business?

If you’ve ever had to make a proposal to a church council or a board of directors, you’ve likely been pressed to have thought through every task and contingency. This takes a tremendous amount of time and effort. The reality is all that planning can’t prevent unforeseen challenges.

Sims argues that instead of having everything planned out in advance, you try “little bets” toward what you think might be a positive outcome. He cites high achievers such as comedian Chris Rock, Steve Jobs, Pixar Films and the Army Chief of Strategic Plans, as well as Ludwig van Beethoven and Thomas Edison, as having achieved great things through little bets.

If you’ve got an idea, don’t wait until you have the entire plan to get started, otherwise you never will. Instead run a pilot project and see what happens. Make adjustments and do it again. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can get to something significant.

Boast

Boast is not the correct term, but I love to alliterate.

What I mean is to put yourself out there. Tell others what you are doing. Not to boast, but to make your effort a reality. When you do this, you are much more likely to follow through.

When I started writing my book, the only person who knew about it was my wife. But I read that it helps to tell people, so I started sharing this when appropriate. It’s scary, but it works.

If you keep something to yourself, it’s no big deal if you don’t follow through. Although you’ll probably feel bad about it. When you share with others, you not only feel accountable to something beyond yourself, you also enlist the support and prayers of those who care about you. People will be pulling for you to succeed.

Which brings me to a final word about the life of faith. My experience is that when I feel God leading me to do something, I don’t get a clear picture. It’s usually a nudge or a glimpse of what’s possible. Then I know it’s time to take a small action. Sometimes it’s a bigger idea, but I have no idea how to get there. I know I’ll blunder. To me, that’s how faith works. If I knew everything at the outset, it wouldn’t be faith. The prayers of others make it more likely that I’ll discern what step, what action, God wants me to take next. It’s an exciting way to live.

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4 Replies to “Blunder, Bet and Boast Your Way to Significant Achievements”

  1. “Perfect is the enemy of done.” I love this! If only I could remember it every time I get stuck…

    If you’ve ever watched “Miracle on 34th Street”, you may recall something that the lawyer says: “Faith is believing in something, even when common sense tells you not to”. (I may not have it exactly right, but it gets the point across). That’s one of the best parts of the movie for me.

    1. Indeed, faith is about moving forward without knowing. Or, as Hebrews 11:1 tells us: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

  2. This is why business “incubators” have started all over the world. Good ideas for the “tac” of accomplishing something. All of them are trumped by having a burning, gut wrenching, can’t-stop-it PASSION for the desired outcome. Making it easy to quit after small failures is the “out” of our times.

    1. Good point. If there isn’t a passion for some kind of impact, then small failures will stop people in their tracks. When we see those as learning experiences and not failures, then we can move forward.

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