A few years ago, I had a big snowcrash moment about the power of networks and the web, envisioning the amazing potential that could be unleashed if we could just build our networks and weave them all together.

Fast forward 18 months or so, and I find myself embedded within overlapping networks of networks…. and yet I still don’t see the magic happening that had appeared so clearly in my mind.

What’s the deal?

I chuckle now looking back at my own starry-eyed naivete, as if it were enough to just be connected. I’m reminded of something Stowe Boyd said when I interviewed him for the Future of Facebook Project:

There’s no natural reason that we’re all gonna come together and sing kumbaya just because we’re using the same social tools.

So, yeah. It’s not the technology, it’s about us.

We’ve been through the binding phase over the past few years, which was all about getting linked. We delighted in relatively low risk interaction and sharing, finding our tribes, forming communities of mutual interest and learning. And it’s been wonderful. The connection phase was great. It has transformed me.

But now we’re moving into the collaboration phase, and there are some different requirements.

The next few years are going to be defined by a culture of learning and interactivity that involves more trust, and so naturally, more risk. If we’re going to go beyond just sharing links with each other to actually *helping* each other, working together, experimenting, prototyping, and adapting to changing circumstances, *we* have to first change in order to make that possible.

I’m in the process of experimenting with this firsthand, bringing people togther into an online collaboratory space, and I’ll admit – it’s not easy. We’ve got a group of ‘change agents’ who want to do things together, to form ad-hoc teams around short-term projects, make something cool happen and improve our world and our lives — but how to begin?

Each of us is a free agent, delicately riding the edge of chaos and uncertainty as we try to pave our own path. Each of us likes the sound of a peer-to-peer culture, a transition from scarcity to abundance, a move from a transactional economy to a relational economy (ht jerry michalski), and a redefinition of value and wealth. Each of us sees the promise of a new way of working, living, and Being.

And yet there is still fear.

Are you gonna steal my idea? Are you gonna follow through with your commitments? Are you gonna take the credit? Am I gonna get screwed — yet again?

My question to you is: How do we transcend this, surrender, and take the next leap of faith?

(ponder it)

Assuming you are curious enough about the possibility to find out how it could work, what is the critical component that’ll inspire you to jump?

For me, it all comes down to trust.

Not just blind trust in everyone else, but trust in myself and a commitment to move past fear and into action. Lead by example and see who wants to come with me. Become aware of who I’m connected to and choosing carefully with whom I want to build things. Take small risks together so we can gain momentum. Start having some Collective Epic Wins.

It’s not a process I think can be done “safely.” Meaning, you can’t really half-ass it with one foot outside the door. Like Yoda said, “Do or do not. There is no try.”

I’ve been doing it. It’s scary. I’ve been let down and disappointed several times. I know I’ve let down and disappointed others as well.

But I’m learning, I’m growing and unfolding as a human being, and I’m building a depth in my relationships that is simply not possible when in a fear-based mentality. Without going too “woo” on you, I can say that there is a heart-opening that happens, a vulnerability that paradoxically unlocks tremendous power, and an energetic field that expands, calibrates, amplifies, and makes seemingly impossible things manifest.

It’s a process that’s filling my life with more richness, meaning, and happiness.

Have you experienced something similar?

And if not, what’s holding you back from the next leveling up?