Making Time to Evaluate. While happily enjoying one of my first motorcycle rides this year, I spotted a couple sitting on their front porch watching the world go by. I leaned back into my seat, put my boots up on the highway pegs, tuned in some classical rock, took a sip from my coffee, and realized that I was in a similar headspace. The only difference is that instead of waiting on activity to pass on by, I was actively passing on by it.
I was pleasantly relaxed meandering through the countryside feeling both attached and detached from any local activity; a transitory witness to its existence. Folk waved as I cruised in and out of their worlds. And I gladly acknowledged their greetings very cognizant that this was biking at its warm best.
In that soulful headspace I find that reflection comes easy. I was given cause that day to think deeply about where I was going in my life and what if anything needed to shift. Work issues also came into focus and thoughts of failure and success were given the light of day.
This seems like a timely story because of its evaluative outcome. For many of us (most certainly those of us in the church and other such seasonally similar groups or businesses) these next several weeks are the home stretch for evaluating the completion of the goals we had set last fall. Soon those who we work alongside, and we ourselves will be shifting our energy and focus towards plans for the summer. Any last minute pushes need to happen now (or never); before the hot drain of summer sucks us brainless and we simply run out of time.
There is plenty of literature outlining a good evaluative procedure. For better or worse, an Internet search can make your head spin. There is any number of tools; each adopting its measures (of success and failure) based on some philosophical nuance. In my 26 years as a church leader I have found that the best evaluative process incorporates the KISS principle.
I have also found that corporate evaluation benefits from personal evaluation. Quite often the incompletion of goals is the result of someone’s change of heart or a leaders failure to take into account certain personal issues when the goal (s) were excitedly established. As Churchill once said; if you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.
In my experience and evaluative process must begin with you and/or those you work alongside intentionally create a still space in which all involved are freed to ruminate. I have found that it is best when leadership begin this process in self-reflection. Perhaps it’s on the motorbike, or going out for a Sunday drive in the car. Perhaps it happens best getting oneself to the water and wandering slowly down the beach; or perhaps it’s finding a quiet place to journal; or perhaps, for some extroverts, it happens best over a shared bottle of wine with an unassuming friend.
As I see it, evaluation is a process easily sidestepped because we get so busy doing that we forget why we began to do it. We can become bogged down in maintenance while forgetting why so much energy is being drained in those tasks. Evaluation, at the very least, is opportunity to remind us of our goals. At best, evaluation is opportunity to become creatively stimulated.