Recently, the news organization, Upworthy, found out about my new vision. They filmed a conversation between me and a friend, and featured it on their popular website and Facebook page.
Because of that video, I continually get interest in what was, just a few months ago, an idea.
How did it happen? How did a big organization like Upworthy learn about my new idea? More generally, when you have an idea you want to turn into reality, how do you make that happen?
I’ve been fortunate to launch a few organizations in my lifetime. And what to share what I’ve learned. But, first, quickly let me tell you about my new venture.
It’s called The Christian Muslim Alliance. Our mission reads “To end division between the world’s two largest religions.”
I think our country needs this organization — because there’s so much paranoia. Hate crimes. Suspicion. There will be more terroirst attacks. And I think banning an entire religion, or registering people in a big government database, will only create more division.
And I’m a Christian. And over 70% of Americans also identify as Christians. That means there are tens of millions of us Christians that can help end the division. And for those who truly follow in the teachings of Jesus, he was all about welcoming outsiders. And lets face it, Muslims, to many people, are outsiders.
Many Christians even think Muslims are the enemy. But even if they are the enemy — and they most certainly are not, though some claiming to be Muslims are — Jesus has very specific words about how Christians should treat their enemies.
So The Alliance has a vision to bring an end to the paranoia. Stop the xenophobia, which is a big word, but simply means suspicion of a people group based on how they look, where they are from, or because you don’t understand their beliefs.
How are we going to do it?
So far, I’m spending a lot of time immersing myself in the very large and influential Muslim culture. It’s a world I’ve never known because I’ve spent most of my life with non-Muslims (and mostly Christians).
I’m kind of on a “listening tour,” going to Mosques. Meeting leaders. Learning from them.
And we are steadily building our social media and website, too. Oh, and week I was asked to launch a podcast with an influential Muslim leader.
So, I’m thrilled to see great things already starting to happen! But we also have a very long way to go — there are millions of minds to change.
Okay, so what should you expect when you’re launching your vision? Here are just a few quick things I’ve learned throughout my career.
First, expect to feel unqualified. Expect it. That you don’t know enough. You don’t know all the right people. Even that you’re a fake. And because of these feelings, expect to have thoughts along the lines of Who am I to think I can do this?
My advice: You just need to get used to feelings of inadequacy. If not, you end up quitting. Or, worse, you just keep talking about your amazing vision, month after month. Or, you just daydream on your computer looking at all the successful organizations you want to become like.
Second, you can’t just talk about it. There’s an old Chinese proverb that says talk don’t cook rice.
Merely talking about your vision is like a person wanting to become a baker, who keeps telling friends about their baking business vision, creating fancy power point presentations, with beautiful photos of all the kinds of fancy cakes he will bake. But he never puts anything in the oven. You’ve just gotta start baking stuff and sharing it with people. Only then do you find out whether your product is any good, and how to tweak your recipe it to make it better.
So truth be told, I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to start The Alliance — but in the meantime, while I’m figuring out exactly how achieve our mission, I’m going to get a bunch of stuff done and see how it works, including the writing of this very post.
Third, you must expect sabotage in some form or another. And that will hurt most when it comes from family and friends — the ones who have a voice in your life. Some will think you’re too young. Too naïve. In my case, too idealistic or too “obsessed” with a cause. They will think of the others that are already doing your thing and say things like, “Oh, you want to do what so and so big organization is doing?” Some will think you’re being too risky. Or, that you don’t know how to keep a “real job.” Like above, you just need to get used to the feelings of inadequacy — expect them — and if you can come to enjoy those feelings, even better!
Fourth, money. It takes money. And if you don’t have the guts to ask for money, it’s never going to work. The upside is that the best fundraisers don’t ask people for money. There’s an old saying I’ve found helpful: If you want advice, ask for money and if you want money ask for advice. So you’ve got to find people, and ask them questions about how they want to change the world. As you get to know them, you’ll have your answer as to whether they could help fund your dream.
Fifth, you’ve just gotta show up. Keep chipping away. Making the calls. Posting, writing, doing the work. Sounds obvious, but the number one goal of any organization is stay in business. And you only stay in business if you keep showing up.
Finally, only when you step-up and launch your vision can you open yourself up to a powerful force of success called luck. And so much of success is about luck. Just read the biographies of great pioneers; luck is always a part of their story.
So the most publicity The Alliance has received, thus far, was due to luck. Upworthy called me because I’m also a blogger. And I was part of a political video series with another blogger friend during the election. One of the Upworthy writers randomly found that series on Facebook, watched it, heard me talking about Islam, then emailed me because they thought I’d be good at talking about politics for a pilot series.
They knew nothing about The Alliance. But when I told them, they decided to make their production about my new vision.
Okay, thanks for reading. I’m always around to chat if you’d like, and best of…luck…in your vision!