Baby Steps Toward Change

Kara Powell

We all have a choice when we want to bring about change, whether the change is related to Sticky Faith or not:  we can swing for the fences, or we can just try to get on base and hope to cross home at some point.

When swinging for the fences works, it’s great.  When it doesn’t, it can be catastrophic.

That’s why I appreciated this recent blog post from the Harvard Business Review.  In talking about “Three Ways to Turn Setbacks into Progress,” the authors illustrate the power of focusing on “small, achievable wins” by describing two different teams each working toward tough goals:

“If people are having regular successes, then the sting of setbacks will be less. Focusing singlemindedly on "big, hairy, audacious goals" may occasionally lead to great success, but all too often it leads audacious failures. Of the 26 teams we studied, Tim's team was the most successful and the one with the most engaged and happy people — even though its project was technically very difficult. That team reported nearly five progress events for every setback; the team leader, and his technical directors, knew how to set intermediate (and achievable) goals. In contrast, Alvin's team, which was one of the least engaged and happy, reported nearly two setbacks for every step forward. Just imagine how different the experience of working in these two teams must have been.”

I’m someone who loves to think big and dream big.  But the road to big dreams is marked with a lot of small and medium sized steps.

That’s one of the many lessons we’ve been learning about change in this year’s Sticky Faith Cohort.  Dr. Scott Cormode at Fuller has been an invaluable partner in helping churches identify intermediate wins they can take on their way to the ultimate victory.  Scott also recommends that churches celebrate those wins along the way.

What’s the big goal you’d like to accomplish in your ministry or family?  What are a handful of steps that will take you there?  How can you celebrate—and celebrate lavishly—as you move forward?


Published Sep 30, 2011
Kara Powell

Kara Powell, PhD, is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary. As a youth ministry veteran of over 20 years, she serves as an Advisor to Youth Specialties. Named by Christianity Today as one of "50 Women You Should Know", Kara is the author or co-author of a number of books including Sticky Faith, Essential Leadership, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum.

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