Talk about getting out of my comfort zone.
Let me back up a minute…
Several years ago, I came across a website called The Listserve. The concept of the website was intriguing: You enter your email address, and then once a day, they randomly select one “winner”, who then gets to send an email to the rest of the group. Their tagline ambitiously reads:
If you had the chance to speak to a million people, what would you say?
Kind of cool, right?
So, I sign up. Its May 14, 2013, and there are 21,419 other members. My odds are sweet! Just kidding, I have no clue how to calculate my odds of being selected in a daily lottery with a presumably growing number of other contestants. And I have absolutely no idea what I would say if I did win.
Actually, that is not entirely true. Exactly one week after signing up, and ever the conniver, I emailed a friend:
My gameplan: post a very short 1 paragraph funny story (something that happened to me, or sort of happened to me) or possibly a brief top ten list of some sort. Then, link to my [now defunct Crossfit] blog. Finally, full T&A sig line with website link. Now I just need to win the lottery!
(Little did I know that The Listserve actually has some rules about what you can and cannot send…)
Two weeks later, after reading the daily emails as they poured in, I emailed back the same friend:
I hope I never get picked.
Over the next several years, I read relatively few of the incoming emails. Some of them were pretty clever, but the majority were fairly dull-- motivational life tips, religious commentary, mundane personal stories, etc.
Occasionally, if the subject line was interesting, I would read the email, and my internal dialogue would go something like this:
Holy crap, what if I get picked? What would I write? (strains brain for 45 seconds and then assures self that there is no way I would ever be picked.) But, maybe I should unsubscribe, just to be sure…
Then, out of the blue, while minding my business on a lovely Labor Day weekend, I get the following blood-chilling email:
Hey there, you’ve been chosen to write to the rest of The Listserve. You have 48 hours to respond…
After 14 minutes of sheer panic, I finally pulled myself together long enough to spring into action. I forward the “You’ve won” email to my friend along with my initial thoughts and strategy. It read in full: “Oh dear god!!!!” With that kind of sophisticated facility with the written word, what was I ever afraid of?
Uh, so much for my oh-so-clever idea to use this as a vehicle to pimp my law firm. (I mean if just 1 out of 22,000 is a potential client… right? Speaking of which, contrary to the Listserve’s own self-promotion, in the 1,210 days since I initially signed up, the List only grew by about 800 people, so still roughly 978,000 shy of the one million person goal)
And just 48 hours to write it??? That’s just plain mean.
So, I spent some time trying to think of some ideas of what I could write, and really struggled. This was hard. I mean, do I really have anything to say? Do I really want to do this? But something about this challenged me in a way that made me not want to back down. Humor is a big part of my life and I got the overwhelming sensation that if I didn't give it a shot, I would regret it
In short, this one time I didn’t want to do what I normally do in uncomfortable situations: wimp out.
So I came up with a couple of idea, and started writing. I figured if it didn’t work, I’d try one of the other ideas. But, it took me so long to come up with my original draft, I really didn’t have any time left to try another idea. And, scared as I was, I did kind of liked what I had written.
So, with great doubt and genuine fear (I was using my real name for crying out loud!!), I sent it in.
They warn you that the email won’t go out immediately, but the next 7 days were agonizing. At one point I desperately wanted to send in an edit to delete part of what I wrote. (Why did I include that line about seeing the cops plant evidence??!! I was totally kidding about that! But that’s not funny. I’m gonna get called out. Spoiler alert: I did get called out.) Also, as the days passed, I started freaking out that they would happen to publish my goofball email on 9/11. That would not be a good look.
On 9/13/16, I, along with 22,200 some odd other people, received my email.
Almost immediate, the replies started coming in. They were wonderful, and hilarious, and kind, and random, and oh so generous.
22 people took the time to send me feedback on my email-- a legit-ass 0.1% responsiveness rate : )
In short, people thought it was funny, and that made me feel really, really good. It was super hard to put myself out there to the masses, but so unbelievably rewarding to so. Here were the comments:
Oh, and what was my post? It can be found HERE.