Reflection – 30 days of starting a movement

Let’s be honest…
This activity was less than successful, and the movement was a complete failure. I need to address these things separately, because as I said in the launch post the success of the movement was not the purpose of the activity itself.

What was the challenge?
This challenge was really moving me completely outside my comfort zone, to act more extroverted from Susan Cain’s talk. It required me to promote the movement and try to get others to engage with it; to put myself out there and be willing to be challenged about the intent and purpose of the movement; and, to completely ramp up the small things that I have been doing to market and publicise this blog, and the Year of TED project in general.

What I really needed to find was the first follower from Derek Sivers talk. I needed to find someone who saw the value in this, preferably an extrovert, who already had an audience and could do some of this for me. That didn’t eventuate, and quite frankly I don’t have nearly enough of a web presence to start something this big myself. And that is lesson number 1, I should have made it smaller and easier it achieve – more on that later.

And so how did I go in the leadership stakes then in relation to Seth Godin’s talk? Well that would require me to have a tribe to lead now wouldn’t it 🙂 I obviously failed to develop curiosity in the movement and to connect with people. I was trying to challenge the status quo though, and I think that I showed a fairly good commitment to the task, although I could have done more. But I think that is always the case, we could always do more. And building a culture and having charisma are really moot to the whole thing since the movement didn’t get off the ground.
Let’s look a little deeper at the lessons
I will start by saying that I knew I was biting off more than I could chew with this one. The activity alone was always going to be a challenge, but the movement I decided to start was a really bad choice. So let’s deconstruct it a bit more.
  1. The movement was too large and not simple enough for people to engage with. I know that this is a general problem in trying to get people to engage and yet I didn’t notice that problem when I picked the movement. That was partly due to the fact that I had spent the previous month being immersed in challenging my preconceptions, so it was no longer a complex activity in my mind. I should have made it simple, I should have made it something less all-encompassing and I should have made it something that wasn’t as challenging. I also think that in hindsight I should have made it something local.
  2. Following on from point 1, I don’t have enough of a voice in the world to attack a topic as huge and significant as challenging your preconceptions. If I had thousands of Twitter followers and readers of this blog then I might have been able to get some traction on this. I seriously overstretched myself, and without a first follower this was never going to happen. This one I wasn’t clueless about, which was why the success of the movement was secondary to the activity itself.
  3. My boss actually pointed this one out when I was talking with her about the failure of the movement – I picked something that was to confrontational for people to want to publicly engage with. So even if people were interested in the concept and thought it was a good idea, maybe even did the exercise, they weren’t going to publicly talk about it. I tend to forget that I am baring my soul in this project but normal people would tend to think twice about it – actually I always think twice or three times but I have committed to doing it anyway.
  4. I didn’t do enough, but I did as much as I felt I could. I’m just not the sort of person who has the confidence to say “hey I have a brilliant idea, look at me”. This is partially because I have way too much internal judgement going on to think that I have a brilliant idea, but also because I don’t enjoy being the centre of attention. Now this may seem like an extremely odd comment given the project I am doing and the fact I’m writing a very public blog about it all. But think about it for a second, how hard have I pushed the blog? Occasionally I get conscientious and think I would like more readers, so I play around the edges of promoting it through Twitter and finding like blogs to comment in etc. I’ll leave that one there.
In summation
I probably should have tried the light-hearted concept that I had for a movement, this was way to heavy and serious for a 30 day activity. The other one had the possibility of people finding it fun and engaging, but I felt it was too frivolous. And that was a preconception I should have challenged harder, because this project is life changing enough, I should have tried something more fun and less stressful. Lesson learned.
I will leave the preconception blog running, if anyone feels like contributing. I may even continue to add posts if I find other sites or content that I think are really great. But I don’t have the energy to keep it going. Maybe I will refine the idea and find a way to simplify it once I’ve finished John Maeda’s book, or maybe I will just admit defeat on this one.
I learned a lot about my strengths and weaknesses, and that is the overall purpose of this project. So I shouldn’t be too hard on myself, and internally I’m not beating myself up very much at all because this was the outcome I had always expected. Maybe I set myself up to fail, or maybe my effort matched my expectations and not my goals. So much to think about.
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