I’m starting to get a little sick of sports radio, at least local sports radio. No matter how well a team does, each week a hoard of fans will call in complaining on what the team could do better and should improve upon before the next game. I get it as fans we have the right to critique our team, after all we invest time, money and emotional energy into them. But, it makes me wonder, is all this focus on the negative really beneficial? Why can’t we just enjoy the win? Then I remember this question:
What is the ratio of the time I spend solving problems to the time I spend scaling successes?
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I found this question in the book Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. The question is meant to challenge us to focus on the bright spots of what is we do instead of the problems and failures. Many of us would like to think we have a positive outlook on what is we do; however, we spend the majority of the time pining on problems and assigning blame (See I just did it.)
In student ministry there are a few areas where we focus on the problems, maybe a little more than the successes. I’m not saying that your ministry is a huge success; however, if we were to change the way we approached relationships, situations and responsibilities we might find ourselves a little more productive. So how do we balance the ratio?
- Count The Bright Spots – This is a phrase from the Heath brothers. Basically it’s looking for the times that your vision was met, when something positive happened in your ministry and track it. Many times we track problems and let go of the positive experiences. Just as problems need to be analyzed, wins need to be celebrated. And it’s important to remember no win is too small.
- Delegate The Burden To The Right Team – Problems should not be solved on their own, in fact they should be delegated to a team who has the expertise and wisdom to approach them. Too many times we hold onto the problem forcing us to ignore the positive. On the flip side we allow too many people to chime in on the problem, which results in watering down or over emphasizing the issue.
- Create Vision Casters – When people share the vision they not only learn how to problem solve; yet, how to identify signs that they are moving in the right direction. When the vision is clear it’s easier to understand that while there are low points, there are the high points that got you there.
I’m not saying we can’t be critical, I’m not saying ignorance is the key; however, if we can’t identify our successes as well as our problems than we will struggle. If you find yourself frustrated because you don’t believe those successes exist, then talk to someone who will help you find them. When we can scale our successes with the same energy and time we do our problems, then we’ll find it easier to focus on the task at hand.
What is the ratio of the time you spend solving problems to the time you spend scaling successes?