Last night I sent out a email through Constant Contact, a multi-mail-sender-outer-service, to a small group of people who are my “First to Know” mailing list – about my new online course, along with a special code to get a major discount.
This list is a handpicked list of people who’ve either taken one of my courses or asked about my courses, so they’re a precious group to me – the people most likely to be excited about what I’m most excited about right now: my new online Blues course.
So, I wanted to do it all myself, because these are really important people to me, many of whom are students who I really love. I wrote the email, personally, put it in the email software (something my assistant usually does) – and since I really feel personal about this, I wanted to be as personal as I could, and use their names, and so I added the field that puts in people’s names. Something I normally avoid in e-newsletters.
Normally I let Beatriz oversee those details, because she’s … well, she’s really good at it.
But … I mean … it was a realllllly simple email. And I really wanted it to be from me. And what could go wrong?
Well … if you read the title of this blog, that’s how each email showed up in people’s in-boxes.
So, this reminds me of a marriage proposal I once got …
My college boyfriend had gone off to medical school in Boston, I was still in California, things were heating up in the relationship and one day I got a letter from him that – along with general news – proposed marriage. He was a wonderful writer, so it was a lovely proposal.
Except he spelled my name wrong.
I used that as an excuse to say no. But the real reason was that I wasn’t ready to get married.
But I noticed how, when we do something very personal – something we’re excited about, we often focus so much on reaching out, and making that personal connection, that we can get some ‘essential detail’ wrong.
Not something essential in the message itself, but something in the details of how we deliver it that seems to work against the very connection we’re trying to make.
And I also noticed that when we take umbrage at an incorrect detail and decide to make that mistake the point of refusal, it’s a good sign we really aren’t ready for that thing.
So, this morning, when Beatriz emailed to tell me about the mistake in my I-really-want-this-to-be-personal email to my “First To Know” list, my first feeling was … Ohhh, no — that’s sooooo icky!!
And then I started thinking … well, but I DO make mistakes. And these, of all people, need to see me making mistakes, because I’ll be expecting them to make mistakes in this course — and they need to know that’s really OK.
And then I realized how cool it’ll be that I’ll be able to refer to this email in the course, to remind them about this mistake, to put their own mistakes context.
And I started thinking: “What an interesting mistake!”
So, now … do I still wish I hadn’t made the mistake?
But I’m also really interested to see what happens now that I have.
Dear [contact first name]
It’s all right. The moon sees many flowers. The flowers see but one moon.
We can be the flowers. You are the light in our night sky.