Elon Musk, founder of Tesla Motors, had an audacious goal. He planned to deliver 500,000 electric cars to waiting consumers by 2020. He set this goal despite the fact that no one has created a successful new car company in the United States in over 50 years — much less one that sells electric cars.
I said he had this audacious goal because he recently abandoned it. His new goal is to deliver those 500,000 cars by 2018 — two years earlier.
Incremental improvement is slow
Before you write off Musk as a crazy entrepreneur, I want us to think about what we can learn from him for our RCIA processes. At TeamRCIA, we get a lot of goal-oriented questions such as, how can we get more team members?, how do we find more inquirers?, how is it possible to do this all year long?, how do know what to teach?
Most of us are looking for incremental improvement. We’d be thrilled with a couple more team members or a few more inquirers, for example.
All of Diana’s and my work at TeamRCIA has also been based on incremental improvement. Every year, we try to deliver a few more resources and reach a few more people. This has been a good strategy for us, so far.
But it has been a slow one. It takes a long time to reach a lot more people. I’m sure the same is true for you. It takes a long time to build up a team or develop an effective process.
Should RCIA teams be audacious?
What I want us to consider is that Elon Musk is not waiting around for incremental progress. He is planning for audacious progress. But we’re not Elon Musk, and we’re not building cars. So what difference does his audacious thinking make to RCIA teams?
What we can learn from Musk and by emulating his thinking is how to spread the gospel more effectively and more broadly by a magnitude of ten times or more. Ten times more people rescued from hopelessness. Ten times more justice and peace in the world. Ten times less poverty and hunger. And all that will happen if we change from incremental thinking to audacious goal setting.
RCIA teams: spread the gospel more effectively by a magnitude of ten.
Just think of the many, many times Pope Francis has asked us to play a bigger game. For example:
Have you thought about the talents that God has given you? Have you thought about how you can put them at the service of others? Don’t bury your talents! Bet on big ideals, those ideals that enlarge the heart, those ideals that will make your talents fruitful. Life is not given to us so that we can keep it jealously for ourselves, but is given to us so that we may donate it…. Don’t be afraid to dream great things! (Weekly General Audience, April 24, 2013)
Failure is probable…and that’s okay
Is Elon Musk going to reach his goal of 500,000 electric cars by 2018? Probably not.* He does not currently have the infrastructure, the money, or the employees to build that many cars. And getting all that in place by 2018 is next to impossible.
But here is what happened as soon as he set that goal. He believed it; his investors believed it; his employees believed it; and his customers believed it. As a result, Musk has changed the universe. Everyone is now thinking up brand new ways of creating cars, inventing new processes, trying new ideas, and recreating the car-building world. If Musk only builds half the cars he said he would or if he reaches his goal a year or two later than he said he would, the car world is still changed forever.
Are we going to fail at raising hopefulness and reducing poverty by a factor of ten? Probably. But if you believe you can do it, and your team believes it, and your parishioners believe it, you will permanently change the way your parish evangelizes. You will create brand new ways of spreading the gospel. As Pope Francis says, “Don’t be afraid to dream great things!”
Ten audacious goals for your RCIA team
So just to get you started, here are ten audacious goals your team might believe in. Pick one or two. And then go change the universe.
- Initiate ten times as many seekers this year than you did last year
- Implement ten new ways to shift your catechetical formation from a lecture format to an apprenticeship training process by December 31 of this year
- Define what it means to be an “initiating parish” and then become one by by December 31 of this year
- Recruit ten times as many potential sponsors this year than you did last year
- Improve your sponsor training process by a factor of ten by December 31 of this year
- Introduce each catechumen and candidate to ten times as many parishioners as you did last year
- Involve your catechumens and candidates is ten times more works of mercy this year than you did last year
- Improve the quality of your retreats for the catechumens and candidates by a factor of ten by December 31 of this year
- Plan to measure “conversion” and deepen the level of conversion of yourself and each team member by a factor of ten by December 31 of this year
- Deepen your understanding the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults text and process by a factor of ten by December 31 of this year
What are your audacious goals?
Do you have other audacious goals in mind? Please share below.
*Tesla did not make its goal of delivering 500,000 cars in 2018. But they did reach that goal in 2020!