First, a disclaimer: I am not an expert. I have not (yet) held a big fundraiser and I have not (yet) written a grant. I have not gone to school for this and I am pretty new at it.
Having said that, I will add that I feel rather confident in my ability to make great stuff happen. And that’s really what Happiness Sprinkling is about.
Last week, a group of us stood at a busy intersection, wearing bright yellow shirts and holding up signs that said things like “You Rock,” “It’s Going to be Okay” and “Yes oh Yes.”
We stayed there for an hour, having a blast and from what I see, the happy ripples reached far and wide. Even though someone wrote that this was “the best kind of advertisement they’d seen,” we never thought of it as advertisement. The Center’s logo was nowhere to be seen, I am pretty sure none of us had any business card on us (well, I bet Carol did) and well… that just was not even on our radar. In fact, not till the night before the event did it occur to us that maybe the newspaper would want to hear about it. So, what was on our radar? To have a great time and to light people up.
A week later, amazed at the abundance of great feedback we have received, I want to take a look at what worked because I think that it makes for a great lesson. I want to share that with others too, with the people who have asked me, over the last several days: “How did you guys do this?”
In no particular order:
1) Have a great time and let it show
I think that’s the big one. Don’t suffer in order to make a point. Make it great for you and make it so great that you are going to enjoy the heck out of it. That means, pick music you like – if music is involved – wear comfortable clothes, invite people you want to hang out with (not people with whom you want to be seen) and make it so good that even if no one shows up or notices, you will have a great time. By being 100% authentic, you are going to attract people who resonate with you, with what you are doing and this is how you will grow your tribe, a tribe that will feed you because you are feeding it. Anything else is fluff and not the least bit nutritious.
2) Keep it super simple
Once the idea is out, it is tempting to want to set up committees (they sound so grown up) and organize pre-event meetings, send out tons of memos … all that stuff. While some degree of organization is going to help, consider the possibility that it may take a lot less than you originally think. Keep it super simple. In our case, once I decided (more on the “I” in a minute – see #9 ) that I wanted everyone to wear bright yellow shirts, I simply asked everyone to show up wearing bright yellow shirts. Sure there was the temptation to order shirts so we all matched and I am so glad that I dodged that. There was also the temptation to get us all together for a “rehearsal” or a “brainstorm session” or … I dunno. Because I had so many other things going on, I knew from the beginning that this event could not take much room and what a gift that was. Between a few emails, a couple phone calls and regular facebooking, it all came together. We showed up, we grabbed our signs and we did it. Simple.
3) Good enough
Some shirts were brighter than others. Some people canceled at the last minute. Others didn’t show up. Others yet just joined in at the last second. It rained a little bit. Who cares? Remember the 1) point? Have a great time. Once we get excited about something, it is easy to want to hold it tight and that’s exactly when we suck the magic out of it. Another danger of not going with the “good enough” philosophy is that it may never happen. You wait till you have it just right, all the ducks lined up and you wait and you wait. Next thing you know, you see someone doing “your idea” on TV and you sit there going – wait … that was my idea! It’s good enough. Just go do it.
4) Involve people on a personal level
When I decided to do this, I knew I wanted the people holding the signs to be more than jazzed up about wearing bright shirts and standing on the corner holding signs. I wanted them to be excited about sharing themselves with others and this is why I asked everyone who wanted to be there, what they wanted their sign to say. I wanted them to be so inspired that they were going to be really inspiring. And this goes back, again, to authenticity. In the end, some of us tried on each other’s sign out for fun and that too, was great. So yes, involving people’s essences and giving them a platform to share that essence is a big deal.
5) Allow yourself to get inspired
The idea for this came from a photo that someone sent me online. It was four or five people standing around in orange jumpsuits and holding happy signs. As soon as it popped up on my FB wall, someone said “This is so cool, let’s do it!” and right then, I knew we would. It would have been very easy for our egos to say “Oh, I wish I had thought of that” and dismiss it as it “had been done before.” Who cares if someone did it before? Who cares if this was not your idea? If it lights you up and inspires you, go put your own spin on it and do it again. I bet you that you have some great stuff, some “you stuff” to add.
You dont have to know exactly how it’s going to go. Set it up and then release it. That’s what play is about. Once we were on our corner for a few minutes, we decided to switch spot with the group that was on another corner. We didn’t have notes that said “let’s switch corner every 10 minutes.” We just walked across the street and switched. The ones who didn’t want to switch stayed. We didn’t have even numbers of people on each corner at all times. But we laughed and we hooted and we shimmied and we had a great time. Which… remember #1 ? is the point.
7) Ask for help
You don’t have to do it all yourself. You don’t have to stress. I know that there is some myth out there that says that this sort of things is stressful and lots of work but … I don’t think so. I think you can do great stuff (much greater stuff) if you don’t stress. So, ask for help. Who would be really good at ———- ? In our case, I wasn’t sure how to get the individual signs made. First, I considered making them myself (I always consider doing everything myself at first, I’m told it’s a Capricorn thing – but I am recovering and doing much better), then I considered finding a way to pay to get them printed and finally, I called my favorite design / printing company and asked them if they would “play” – and donate the printing of the signs for us. Again, that’s where 1) comes in. If you are having a great time – even just talking about the event – you are going to get people excited about it. That’s what Landmark Education calls “enrolling.” And guess what? They said yes. They said yes and they made us the best signs I could ever ask for. So yes, ask for help.
8) Record it. Better yet, ask someone to record it.
While the event is going on, you are high. Here it is. You have thought about it for days and here it is. And then … pouf! it’s gone. And if you don’t record it (on video, photos, interviews) you will miss the “after juice.” The event was great. No doubt about that. But the pictures? Oh my goodness! These are forever. They keep the gift going long after. And they remind you of what a great thing you did. Which reminds you that there is so much more you are going to want to do. And then… who knows? A great photo lands on someone else’s radar and they get inspired by YOU. See #5.
9) Have one person in charge
I love the idea of joint brainstorming and I do believe that together we make things so much better. And yet sometimes, when you want to put something together quickly and you have a clear vision and little at risk, one person in charge is a great way to go. Again, at first I wanted to have a meeting, have everyone decide where we should meet, what color shirt we should wear, how long we should do it for etc … I come from a strong democratic and socialist gene pool and yet I knew that for this to be easy, I needed to be in charge – while using suggestions as my guide. I decided that the shirts would be yellow, that we would meet at 4, be done by 5:30. I took someone’s suggestion on the location and adopted it right away. It made is super simple. Now, a few weeks ago for Happy S.W.A.P., Stephanie was in charge. For our Mexican Potluck, Carol was in charge. When that happens, I love being the assistant and I love the ease of turning to them for “what do we do next?” So I am learning that for these small projects, having one person at the helm works great.
You birthed the idea, you gathered your little tribe, you have checked your list and kept it simple enough that you are sure to have a good time… now go for it. Release it. Go play with your creation and trust. Trust that whomever is supposed to be there will be there. Trust that the weather will be perfect, even if it pours. Trust that your happiness drops will land exactly in the right way. And trust that by being you and sharing that with others, you have shared the biggest gift you can share.
Happiness Sprinkling is serious business. Ok, it’s not. But it’s important business. So go to it, sprinkle your own happiness! I can’t wait to feel the drops.