When I was about 11 years old, my fellow Boy Scouts and I were taken on an outing called the “deep freeze,” where we pitched our tents around an old farming community some time during the winter.
This was in Fairfax County, Virginia, where I spent about 2 years of my life growing up. Long story short, following our first of two nights, a group of boys (myself included) decided to play in one of the barns.
My memory of the landscape is anything but vivid some 25 years after the event, but I can tell you that it wasn’t a farm HOUSE… but more like an “Old Westerny” type of town. It’s what I imagine an Amish village to be like. But I digress…
The boys and I were screwin’ around in this barn, climbing up to a loft area where (to the best of my recollection) hay was stored, then “pitched” down a square hole in the floor, where a large haystack formed below. If you’re country folk, by the way, I probably sound pretty ig’nant right now… I’m a city slicker, and have no idea what the functionality of this whole setup was.
Wait a Minute, Lee! What’s All This “Paint Can” Talk?
Ah, I see that you’re someone who likes to get right to the point. Good for you! So I’ll hop right to it…
We were a’jumpin’ through this trap door (about 10-12 feet) into the large pile of hay beneath. It was fun. And the adventure was totally without incident… until I decided to hide.
Like a Leedle in a haystack™ (cheesy as hell; sorry about that), I knew nobody else was about to jump, because we were instructed to stop. So I truly wasn’t worried about being crushed by a falling Scout.
I don’t remember why I was hiding. Just being a dumb kid, I guess. Maybe I wanted to jump out and scare someone. Or maybe my aim was to initiate a search party of sorts.
What I didn’t expect, however, was the half-full, badly dented, 1-gallon paint can that put an end to my weekend outing… to be whizzed through the air, directly at my emerging dome at precisely the same moment that I was removing myself from the haystack.
One of the corners of the can (remember, it was severely dented) caught me about two inches above my left eye, directly above the outer corner of my eyelid. Don’t quote me on this, but I think it actually lodged in my head for a second or two before crashing to the hay-blanketed barn floor.
I was immediately blinded by both immense pain and torrents of blood. It made for a not-too-pretty scene. The field trip was over and I was stitched. Not one of my finest moments by any means.
I Hate to Be Rude, Lee, But What’s the Damn Point?
Wow, you just say whatever’s on your mind, don’t you? Cool! And while it’s actually taken me 25 years to learn the moral of this story, I’ll go ahead and just give it to you in a single blog post. Pretty good deal, right?
Had I not been hiding, I would have been seen. I wouldn’t have gotten hit by that paint can. The show would have gone on.
You see, far too many of us are “playing it safe” with our marketing (ah, and the point emerges!). We’re hiding from the world. We’re not putting ourselves out there. We can’t be seen. And the very reason we’re doing this is to avoid being hurt in some way.
We fear embarrassment. We fear negative blog or forum comments. We fear email unsubscribes. We fear failure… and success… and rejection. We’re afraid that if we put ourselves out there for the world to see, we’re leaving ourselves exposed and something dreadful is bound to happen.
But guess what?
The Merits of Being Bold:
Even if being “seen” didn’t prevent that kid from zipping that paint can my way, I would have been in a far better position to defend myself. I could have ducked, bobbed & weaved, blocked it, or even caught it. Being hidden and unaware, I stood absolutely no chance.
With your email marketing business (and any other IM business you may be involved with), if you don’t play the game with every ounce of your heart, passion, excitement, playfulness, humor, and skill… you’re going to get hit in the head… hard!
And the pain will be much deeper and far longer-lasting than my cranial injury at age 11. You’re going to suffer psychologically… and emotionally… and financially. It’s ironic that the very mechanisms we use to protect ourselves are the very things that end up biting us the hardest.
Anyway, I do appreciate you strolling down memory lane with me, even if it was just MY memory. What I’m more interested in, however, is to hear how this particular story (and interwoven lesson) may apply to you.
Do you ever find yourself drawing back when you should be attacking? Do you tend to doubt yourself sometimes? Do you view the IM world as a little too “scary” and “shark-infested” to play in sometimes? Boy, I sure do!
Let me hear from you…