From my perspective (its Andy, hi), do i worry about failing?
Yes. All the time. I’m doing it right now while i type this
Now a team of dedicated and passionate volunteers are joining in this idea that got inside my head and just wouldn’t leave. Our community are beginning to cover up all the skills i’m lacking – and that’s what is needed to take the project to the next stage and hopefully to turn it into the HUGE Global Movement i dreamed of that could small action, by small action, make the world around us a friendlier, happier and safer place to live in ..it’s unbelievably exciting watching something i literally starved and slept rough over, as it grows into something bigger
Here’s a little intro to the challenges i’ve faced, and still face in building your community, the Focallocal Public Happiness Movement
Since the very beginning, I often have prolonged spells of question whether i have the skills required to make something so ambitious happen – i am far from balanced in my skills set. There are some areas i excel in and other big natural weakness weaknesses, and its a difficult balance deciding whether to spend all my energy improving a weakness and get things done at a snail speed (for example i am the MOST dis-organised events organiser you’ll ever meet!), or to utilise my strengths like my enthusiasm and ability to make amazing things happen, short notice and with zero resources.
I don’t think its a healthy balance with realism to expect that a project i started will really change the world for the better, and sometimes that reality of chasing something so far off, it really gets me down for a while (prob a big dip every 6 months or so). I think that’s a natural and healthy dip, regardless of how crushingly unpleasant it feels. A healthy subconscious should force us to take a break and question our direction and goals. Then again some of the most successful people seem to keep driving forwards so intensely that they never ..or rarely stop long enough to question themselves. ..or do they? perhaps not often, but maybe those drops are so much harder when they come because of it.
After each low spell i’ve always made important changes to the project, so i choose to see it as healthy. The only way i can slow down and reconsider. Definitely need more mediation.
During one fairly long down spell about three years in, questioning whether i was setting myself up for a big fall and wasting all of my time, effort and money on Focallocal. I took a few days away alone and went hiking, climbing and camping on a Scafell and Scafel Peak mountains to get some distance from everything, clear my head and think things through. While up there I wrapped all my thoughts up nicely into a motto which I wrote on the side of Connie (the Public Happiness van) and now i read it almost every morning to remind myself:
‘as long as i keep moving forwards i can’t fail, and as long as i enjoy the journey it doesn’t matter if i succeed!’
..and I do enjoy the journey, and striving to make the world a better place every day gives me a sense of purpose.
Looking back at the photos and videos of the positive activities and projects i’ve been creating these past few years i’ve also come to realise that Focallocal has already succeeded. Every single activity we do has a positive impact on the people we reach out to and interact with, and that effect does ripple outwards. Perhaps someone walking past a Free Hugs event in a bad mood was reminded to smile, even if they didn’t take a hug their mood was lifted from seeing it, and so they avoided a relationship ending argument with their spouse. Maybe one young person was given a bottle of bubbles by a stranger when walking past our Bubble Blowing Flash Mobs, and it challenged a fear they had of others, so they didn’t feel the need to join a gang for protection from a World that felt unfriendly and unsafe to them
I also occasionally receive messages and photos from folk who came to our activities, or bumped into us on the streets and were inspired to recreate them, or similar ideas all over the World. Recently from people in France, Canada, Australia, Romania, Poland, Spain, Austria and New Zealand.. in fact these messages were the inspiration for attempting to take the message further with our Public Happiness Road Trip
Even if i decide tomorrow that i need a proper job, some stability and a regular income so i can eat properly again, or have money to socialise in bars with my friends, or start building a family – and i packed it all up tomorrow.
Focallocal simply can’t fail because it has already succeeded! Now it’s just a question of how much further this idea can go, and with your help how many more lives around the world we can have a positive impact on. I hope you’re as excited to see as i am!