So in preparing for my Kickstarter, I did a lot of reading on strategies to increase my campaign’s chance of success. I sifted through hundreds of marketing tips on how to get the message out on social media channels without being annoying, how important it was to have a kick-ass video (and how to make one), how to choose the right rewards and structure them into tiers that made sense, how to create a budget, how to keep current backers engaged while continuing to attract new ones. In short, I found a crap-ton of great information on how to run a financially successful Kickstarter campaign.
What I did not find, however, was any information on how to run a spiritually successful Kickstarter campaign.
What the bloggers and boosters don’t tell you is that running a Kickstarter comes with a huge number of spiritual risks. While you are welcome to read that word in any way you like, when I use it, it is in reference to my own personal belief structure (Buddhist) which takes the reduction of suffering and the increase of good karma as activities of primary importance. And by the lights of that belief structure, running a Kickstarter is just asking for trouble. Not because you’re asking for support from other human beings—that is an objectively beautiful activity—but it requires poking some very difficult and painful places in one’s soul. (What right have I to ask for help? Why should people give me anything? Why should anyone even care?) And when you start poking those kinds of places on your soul, it can hurt. And when something hurts, that’s when you have to guard yourself most carefully. Because suffering leads to incorrect thought, and incorrect thought leads to incorrect action, and incorrect action leads to more suffering.
In Buddhism, much is made of carefully, actively, and scrupulously attending to one’s own perceptions. That means paying attention, keeping perspective, and not getting hooked by the chattering “monkey mind.” It means remembering that at every moment, every single individual around us is struggling with their own personal brand of “suffering” … whether that’s the painful suffering of hurt or the sweet sadness of a pleasant moment’s passing. By remaining mindful of this, we can approach the world with compassion. And when you approach the world with compassion, that correct thought leads to correct action … which leads to less suffering.
So, taking that approach, here are my three tips for running a spiritually successful Kickstarter:
- Whenever you feel panicked (that you won’t make your goal, or that some important blogger won’t mention you, or whatever) meditate on gratitude. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and think about all the people who’ve already backed you, tweeted about your Kickstarter, shared your link, or helped you in any way. Think about how incredibly kind they were to do so. They didn’t have to, you know. Every action associated with a Kickstarter is an act of kindness.
- Whenever you feel stressed (that there’s just too much to do, that you can’t stay on top of it all) meditate on surrender. Surrender is not a concept we Americans like very much. And when it comes to running a Kickstarter, it probably seems somewhat counterintuitive. “Never give up! Never surrender! Push harder!” But I promise you … manic frenzy is really not the energy you want. Take a break. Be brave enough to just let things drift for a while. Go dark on the channels for a while. (And go spend some time with your family. They probably miss you.)
- Whenever you feel despair (that maybe people just aren’t getting it, that your passion is just all wrong)—meditate on impermanence. What is true today may not be true tomorrow. Everything can change in an instant—for better or worse. If you are truly passionate about your project (and if you’re doing a Kickstarter, surely you must be) then have faith in that passion. You will find a way, even if it’s not the way you think. And you will find friends to help you.
Here’s the thing. You can’t control if your Kickstarter is going to be a financial success. You just can’t. It’s out of your hands. But whether it’s spiritually successful? That’s entirely in your own hands, and mind, and heart.