Here’s a little-spoken truth learned via crowdsourcing:
Most people don’t believe they are capable of initiative.
Initiating a project, a blog, a wikipedia article, a family journey. Initiating something even when you’re not putatively in charge.
At the same time, almost all people believe they are capable of editing, giving feedback or merely criticizing.
So finding people to fix your typos is easy.
A few people are vandals, happy to anonymously attack or add graffiti or useless noise.
If your project depends on individuals to step up and say, “This is what I believe, here is my plan, here is my original thought, here is my tribe,” then you need to expect that most people will see that offer and decline to take it.
Most of the edits on Wikipedia are tiny. Most of the tweets among the billions that go by are reactions or possibly responses, not initiatives. Q&A sites flourish because everyone knows how to ask a question, and many feel empowered to answer it, if it’s specific enough. Little tiny steps, not intellectual leaps or risks.
I have a controversial belief about this: I don’t think the problem has much to do with the innate ability to initiate. I think it has to do with believing that it’s possible and acceptable for you to do it. We’ve only had these doors open wide for a decade or so, and most people have been brainwashed into believing that their job is to copyedit the world, not to design it.
There’s a huge shortage… a shortage of people who will say go.
Today we’re shipping my new book Poke the Box. Writing a book isn’t that difficult for me (I’ve done it before), and it would have been easy to keep publishing books the traditional way, the way it’s supposed to be done. Instead, I took the opportunity to start a new publishing company, to reinvent a lot of what we expect when we think of when we consider publishing a book. I took my own advice.
I hope you’ll check it out.