The 1 Thing You Most Need To Grow Your Idea Isn’t About YouShare
Discovering community in all its many forms is among the most important and powerful tools for any creator, innovator, or entrepreneur.
Launching a new idea or business isn’t easy. Ever. That much at least we know and acknowledge. But it’s also not a solo effort. As individual creators and entrepreneurs, we instinctively believe we bear the full weight of responsibility for bringing the new and wonderful to life. And we’re dead wrong. In fact it’s this belief perhaps more than any other that raises the odds that your brilliant, groundbreaking dream won’t come true.
The fact is, successful innovation is the job of the many, not the few. Indeed there are countless roles to be filled before, during, and after the ideating, far too many for any one person to sustain. It all adds up to the one thing every groundbreaking creator not only needs, but must actively seek out and cultivate: community.
What community is not
As important as what community is and can do is to understand what community is not. Community isn’t something you buy. It’s something you earn. You build it not in a single stroke, but bit by bit, and the more you put into it, the more it returns. Community doesn’t come ready-made either. It’s something you cultivate. It’s not a fixed place you go and only when you have problems. It’s fluid, ever changing, and reciprocal. If community was something you could buy, bargain for, or borrow, it would fail to serve your shifting needs on the roller coaster ride that is creativity, innovation, and growth.
5 Powerful Forms of Community
We need community. But we too often fail to find what we need in part because we see community in narrow ways, and in part because we don’t know what to look for. In truth, community comes in many different forms. The following 5 types will help you see community differently, and find the very thing you need innovate with lasting impact.
1. One-to-One Community. Problem solving and the search for community aren’t just connected, they also often fall into the same trap: looking for a single solution from a single source. In truth, both are an accumulation of smaller parts. Indeed different people are usually necessary to address different aspects of a problem or project. That’s where one-to-one community comes in. Rather than simply gather people, or turn to the ones who just tell you what you want to hear, One-to-one community is about seeking out people who can actually bring particular value for a particular need. For one-to-one to work, it’s important to remember two other things: community is an every-shifting pool in which the one-to-one pairings change; and while you may think of it as a place to ‘get’, it’s equally important to proactively treat it as a place to which you give. This reciprocation is precisely what makes it communal.
2. Borderless Community. When it comes to community, it’s important to think outside your zone. In fact, that really is the value of community – it goes beyond you. Be it your postal zone or the sometimes limiting zone defined by the people we see or communicate with every day, it’s easy to gravitate towards staying within our own borders. But it’s beyond those borders where better answers and fresh perspective await. Whether it’s an online forum, a webinar or podcast, or simply turning to smart people outside your own sector, when you see community as borderless it becomes a more powerful source of new ideas.
3.Spontaneous Community. Our default is to think of community not just as bordered, but also as more permanent than it really is. Increasingly, community is something that comes together just for a short time and a focused reason. There’s a freeing power in this knowledge. Think of crowdsourcing and crowd funding as just two examples of how it is possible to come together communally around a need today, and part ways, even compete against one another tomorrow. Logos get designed this way. Even entire ventures are funded and supported like this, to get going, even ongoing. The range of possibility in spontaneous community is vast.
4. Established Community. While one-to-one, borderless, and spontaneous communities might have you looking away from a more traditional view of community, don’t let it keep you from taking note of existing communities that exist around other successful ideas or ventures and emulating what they do well. Sometimes we fail to find what we need because we don’t know what we need. By discovering the nature of communities that successful existing ventures rely on, you’re immediately in a position to better see what you need yourself. Established communities can be modeled or even piggy backed. All you have to do is deliberately look around.
5. Consciously Cultivated Community. Once you know them, and once you open your eyes to the many forms community can take, you naturally start to see how community as a powerful, shape-shifting elixir. But in the end, community is an exercise in assessing your own capabilities and needs. What’s most important is to consciously cultivate ‘your own’ community, not just once, but perpetually. Even once established, community isn’t something ever find fully formed or single-sized. You must constantly and thoughtfully tend it.
You can learn more about community in the award-winning book A Deliberate Pause: Entrepreneurship and its Moment in Human Progress.