Remember Kenny Rogers? He was a country music star that crossed over a few times to the pop charts. One of those songs was called "The Gambler," which I remember as being quite popular. It's a pretty catchy tune.
The song's chorus begins with "You got to know when to hold 'em; Know when to fold 'em; Know when to walk away; And know when to run…" I was reminded of that this past month as I looked at the full list of our experiments.
Out of our entire list of 58 experiments, 35 were in some form of an active stage. And that includes our second ever experiment, which we have not yet been able to try. Of course, there is also the reality that the pandemic forced us to put many of them on hold.
But then I thought about The Gambler. As I hummed the song to myself, I wondered if for some of the experiments that are just taking forever, if it was time to "fold 'em" and walk away? After all, if something has taken a year and a half and it still can't seem to happen, maybe the Spirit is not there?
As I went down the list, I looked at each of the experiments and asked: (1) is this taking longer than it should have? (2) would there be a natural partner to take it over? (3) since I am a staff of one with support from some student workers, could my time be better spent discovering new ideas? As you will see in the experiment updates below, 9 more have now closed. This brings our active number to 26, which is more manageable. And frees up space for more!
One final note: as I was about to close 9 experiments and put them in the "did not work" category, I went through a moment of what my wise mentor calls "the embarrassment factor." Would people think less of me for doing this? "That Lorenzo is all talk. He couldn't even land some simple experiment." It's easier to model failure when we talk that the church won't end, but it's good to remember that there's a personal factor. In the end, I feel good about this decision.
And who knows, maybe one of you will pick one of the "failed" experiments and get it done. If you do, please let me know. I'll be the first to shake your hand and share in your success. And then we can tell the whole church about it!
With much gratitude,
The Rev. Lorenzo Lebrija is the founding director of the TryTank Experimental Lab.