Sometimes We Must Kill The Things We Love The Most.
This week I ended the little Facebook community I had created, and it felt like the hardest thing to do.
But I also know it was an action I absolutely had to take.
We all shy away from making the difficult decisions. I know I do. We shun long-term progress in favour of the short-term fix. We seek the quick win at the expense of the longer life-lesson.
Why did I do this? And did I do the right thing?
‘I don’t know’, and ‘I’m not sure’ would be the truthful answers. But sometimes there is no rhyme, reason nor rational thought behind our decisions.
But we’ve all been there: in that moment when the first spark of an idea ignites within our brains – when the genie tentatively escapes from the lamp – as soon as we know, we know.
However, to understand why it’s ending, maybe we should take a look at how it all began.
Starting At Zero
For a long, long time, I wanted to create a community.
And Facebook seemed the obvious place to create it. After all, we need to give poor old Mark Zuckerberg all the help he can get in these difficult times.
I’d been – and still am – part of many a Facebook group. Some of them I’d dip in and out of, others would become part of my life, and a few I left as quickly as I’d joined. A bit like when you’re a teenager at a house party and you open the wrong bedroom door by mistake.
That’s the beauty of Facebook groups: Whatever tickles your fancy – be it cats or cars, sailing or sobriety – there is a tribe for you.
And when Facebook groups work, they really work. There is nothing like the feeling of a supportive community consisting of people from around the world, many of whom you are unlikely to ever meet, coming together to support each other.
But in that beauty, I would also see ugliness.
So many of those Facebook groups would become cliques, popularity contests or platforms for people to enforce their views upon others whilst fluffing their own misguided egos.
I thought: there must be another way.
I wondered if it was possible to create a group to help anyone achieve any goal they wanted. A community to bring people together, no matter whether they wanted to run a marathon or make music, search for stars or become one.
For me, the goal wasn’t important. It was about time.
It was helping people to achieve their goals and dreams – no matter what they may be – and live a life without regret.
And my little Facebook group was born.
Going Off Track
I loved my group, and I loved every single person who was part of it. What I loved most, however, was that it wasn’t my group at all. It was theirs.
But a while ago I realised something was wrong.
This wasn’t the thriving community I’d hoped for. It was like when you were hosting a party (remember those?), and you’re hoping that everyone gets on well, makes some new friends and generally has a lovely time.
But there is a bore standing in the middle of the room, hogging the conversation, diverting all the attention to themselves.
And that person was me.
I’d made a promise that I would show up in that group every day. Every. Single. Day.
And I did.
But I scrolled through the mass of posts one day, I realised something: there was way too much Freddie for anyone to take.
Here’s Freddie running; and here’s something he found on the internet; here’s Freddie again, and this time he’s asking a question because he’s desperately trying to get the conversation started; here’s another post where Freddie is trying to tell you something even though he’s not sure what he’s trying to say.
You get the message. Or maybe you don’t. And that’s kind of the point.
The Truth Hurts
And that was when I realised:
In my efforts to create a community to help people, I had in fact created a monster of my own reflection. I’d created yet another voice in a world fighting for attention, shouting: “look at me”.
That’s no way to help people.
Let’s make one thing clear: I place none of the blame at the feet of the wonderful people who were part of this community. It’s all on me.
Maybe I asked the wrong questions, perhaps I didn’t create enough engaging content, or I might have just not given it enough time (although I would argue that if anything isn’t working after eight months, it’s probably worth considering whether you should make a change).
Let’s get another thing straight, it’s not like this was a disaster. We all had a lovely time, in fact. But I knew I wasn’t having enough of a positive impact on people. I always focus on action, outcomes and results, not words, phrases and likes.
And it was starting to feel like people were indulging me, like when Uncle Jack is at a wedding and forces everyone to form a circle on the dancefloor because he’s convinced he can still throw some breakdance moves, despite being 47 and having lived on a diet of Greggs pasties and Stella Artois since Run-DMC stopped dropping beats.
Jack’s having the time of his life, not realising everyone else is eyeing the exit but too polite to say anything.
So that is why it was time to call it a day.
It would have been easier to carry on, and I know that we would have all continued to have a pleasant time together. But sometimes the difficult decisions have to be made.
I’ll miss speaking to that group every day. But that’s beside the point.
Because I loved this little group, and the last thing I wanted to do was end it…
But end it, I had to do.
And if the group misses me, they’ll still be able to ‘consume my content’ (I’m always a bit sick in my mouth when I write that) on Instagram, my Facebook page, CONQR letter, send me an email or take a look at this very blog.
That’s more than enough Freddie for anyone. And there are even bigger and bolder things to come which will be announced very soon.
Does this experience prove I was a bad leader of this tribe? Who knows.
But here’s my take: I don’t think it was about leadership.
I never created a group to ‘lead’ it. I didn’t ever want to be seen as being above the crowd. I didn’t want the attention, the plaudits, or the followers.
All I wanted was to bring people together to support one another and achieve their crazy goals and dreams.
In life, I believe, we do not always need to look to others for leadership, for we each need to help one another create the environment that will empower us to lead ourselves.
But I wouldn’t pay too much attention to my perspective…
After all, I couldn’t even bloody run a Facebook group.