I’m gearing up to start my next community project, Redefining Community, next week (we kick off April 1st), and I am, as always, blown away by the depth and quality of the submissions.
I talk quite a lot about the tangible business benefits of running a community project – more subscribers, more warm leads, more ideal clients, more money, more visibility etc etc, but there’s another quality of these projects that I talk about less, but is equally bloody brilliant.
These projects are magic.
I don’t mean that in a hippy-dippy woo-woo sense. I just mean that there’s something intangible and magnificent that happens when you bring people together and invite them to share.
The magic is three-fold.
The magic of the submissions
Firstly, there’s the astonishing feeling you get when the submissions to your project start rolling in, and you realise that people have taken your seed of an idea and turned it into something overwhelmingly powerful. The courage, strength, and wisdom of your participants will blow you away.
You will find yourself (as Jo describes below) moved to tears multiple times a day as you read or listen or watch the offerings your peeps have sent you. You will want to reach out and hug every single person through the screen. You’ll shake your head in amazement as almost every single submission is attached to a worried message which says, ‘Is this okay? I hope I’ve done it right’, and you’ll feel like sinking to your knees in awe of the human before you who has shared such profound wisdom and truth, but is unsure of their own brilliance.
It sounds like I’m being totally hyperbolic here, but I’m really not. Every time I run one of these projects I am humbled, and every time they fill me with love for humanity in all its quiet, bumbling, unsure, determined, flawed magnificence.
The magic of the living project
The second phase of the magic happens whilst the project is running, and you sit back and watch this thing you’ve created turn into a living entity, full of colour and life and connection.
You watch as it gathers momentum, creating connections and conversations and meaning beyond what you ever could have imagined. You watch as, one after another, people step forward and share their secret shame, their vulnerabilities, their fears, and are lifted up and supported by the group. You watch as it becomes something important, valuable, something that exists independently of you. You’ll probably cry on a daily basis – I know I do.
The magic of unexpected delights
Finally, the third phase of magic comes close to the end. When you realise that this project you set up to get more people on your mailing list has taken you down a completely different path than you expected. It’s sparked ideas for new offerings, a deeper understanding of your people and how you can serve them, or (in some cases) a complete transformation of your business model. It’s fostered relationships with strangers whom you now adore and consider your friends and allies. It’s led to opportunities you hadn’t even imagined.
You never know where a project will lead you, but it’ll always be somewhere wonderful.
You have to have faith
There is a certain amount of faith involved in running a community project. It’s a process full of uncertainty, especially at the beginning, where you’re anxiously (obsessively) checking to see who’s sharing it, and how many people are signing up. You’re worried about whether you’ve picked the right theme, if anyone will care, or if your participants will have misunderstood the brief or will turn in something sub-par.
On a more practical level, you’re worried that you’ve bitten off more than you can chew – will everyone get their submissions in on time? Will it really have any sort of impact on your business? Will there be tech problems? Or trolls? Will anyone notice? Will anyone care?
But then… the project takes over. It does its thing, gathers its momentum, and you realise that this is bigger than you. You relax, you forget about the numbers and the statistics, and simply revel in the wonder and awe and gratitude that floods over you.
You have created something remarkable.
Well, actually that’s not strictly true, a lot of it is completely out of your control (hence the need for faith), but what you have created are the circumstances for something remarkable to happen, and that in itself is a remarkable thing.
If you haven’t already signed up for my Redefining Community project, you can do so here (I hope you’ll join us), and if this has got you thinking that you’d bloody love to experience all this magic for yourself, then click here to find out how I can help you.