Yesterday, I shared my pathetic attempt at crowdfunding a computer. Sometimes you swing big and hit a home run, other times you swing big and fall on your face. This time, it was pretty much a face plant. So, it was a failure, right? Not a chance. There was so much I learned from this social experiment, including these 7 important lessons:
1) Never expect 100% of any group to buy-in to your idea
This may seem like an obvious one, but how often do we get really worked up when people don’t seem to think our idea is the best thing that ever happened? We should be used to the reality that not everyone will pick up what we are putting down. If they did, then something would be wrong. Creative disagreements, differences of opinions, and competing frameworks for doing things are what makes life in community so interesting.
2) Early adopters will often participate even if the goal/vision/need/purpose is totally clear
Don’t you just love ‘em! I had a few people throw coins my way who frankly had no real clue what on Earth I was trying to do (heck, did I even know?). These people were the early adopters. This small percentage of people is going to find a reason to believe in your idea (or you) because they are ready for change and a new model or thought-process them. Engage them, encourage them, but don’t expect them to be responsible for making the whole thing happen.
3) Sometimes even people the closest to you will think that your idea is crazy
Seriously. Isn’t family required by some kind of contract to support everything you do? I mean mom’s hang artwork on their fridges from their children regardless of how void of real artistic talent it is, just because we are their children, right? Not in this case. Sometimes the people that are close to you will very clearly tell you that your idea is stupid. And sometimes they are right, but not always. The important thing in this situation is to have close advisors around you whose opinion you trust that are given free-reign to tell you when something is out of whack.
4) People on the fringe of your circles may actually be the greatest/most surprising champions
In a direct contract to Lesson 3, sometimes the people you least expect will be your champions. In the case of my laptop funding, I had old high school friends, friends of friends, and people I hadn’t communicated with in years who were the first to step to the plate. This was a profound wake-up call that our community isn’t always present, but stands by just waiting to be activated.
5) If you have not clarified “why” they should act, they most likely won’t
In this situation, my “why” was missing. Why should someone give even a nickel to me if I couldn’t give them a good reason – because my old laptop is breaking down, which person among us doesn’t have a similar issue? No, if we are going to move mountains we need to explain the “why”. If you include people in a compelling reason, provide them with a mechanism, and give them a little room for creativity, the results will amaze you!
6) Sometimes creating a small buy-in will only serve to hamper your ultimate goal
When we have an idea, we are entitled to set the parameters for the action of others. The problem comes when we don’t provide them with varying levels of commitment. In this context I asked people for 2 quarters, 1 nickel, and 4 pennies. You can probably find that in the cushion of your couch or stuck in the cupholders of your car. What about those that wanted to do more, they had to create their own level of commitment, rather than be encouraged that people can commit at varying levels (which we should help them understand).
7) Newton’s first law of motion
A friend asked me before church this week if I had the funds for the new laptop yet. I sadly admitted that not only did I not have the funds, but nothing had changed in the last two weeks. The reality was, I had let moss grow under that big rock. If you have a campaign, movement, or cause that you are working toward – don’t stop moving it. Getting that rock rolling is quite a challenge and it will be even harder if you are constantly starting and stopping. Be clear and be ready when you launch then go all out for it.
Obviously, this initiative was not a loss. You could say that these seven lessons more than make up for the lack of new laptop (see this is getting posted on something isn’t it?), funds, or even my pride. Dream big, but don’t forget to work hard to make sure structure is in place so that your dream has a place to live.