Change Catalyst with Shanna Mann: Strategy & Support for Sane Self-Employment

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What I Learned From Slaughtering Fiddly Tasks With Strangers

rp_honey-400x600.pngI’m an introvert. I bet you’re an introvert, too. I can happily go a month without seeing another person. It doesn’t phase me a bit.

But I’m trying to do this social media thing, and so I hang out on G+ a lot. A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I had a big, important, but ultimately fiddly task that I’d been putting off for months.

So in passing to Abby I said “I need to have somewhere to go where I can say “I updated 25 posts today” and people will know what a big deal that is. Do you have any fiddly tasks you’ve been putting off?”

“So. Many,” she responded. And so the Fiddly Task Slaughtering Party was born.


Now, normally I wouldn’t mention it, because it isn’t nice to make people jealous of an event they weren’t invited to, but I promise you, it’s relevant.

I enjoyed myself.

Here’s the thing. I never expected to enjoy myself as much as I did. I hate group participation. I generally hate groups of people, period. But I figured, the more people involved, the more motivating it would be, so I tagged the few people I’d spoken to more than in passing online, and then I made the post public and said that anyone who was interested could join.

And they did. In the end we had 13 people join in, and I only really knew a handful of them.

Here’s what I learned:

  1. It was fun. I was quite surprised at the difference between crossing a task off my to-do list, and getting to tell a bunch of people I’d crossed something off my to-do list.
  2. I felt like part of a group. Micro-business owners generally work alone, and given that the alternative involves office politics, that’s generally how we like it. But I’d forgotten the fun parts of working with a group– and how much easier it was to work hard when other people are working hard, too.
  3. I stayed abnormally productive for about 4 days post-party (we ran the Slaughter for 5 days.) Honestly, I got on such a roll, I didn’t want to stop, even though regular duties began to impinge. What’s 9 days of boosted productivity worth to you?
  4. I expanded my circle of friendly acquaintances. It was honestly pretty cool that complete strangers participated, and I had some great conversations I would never otherwise have had.

So why is this relevant?

We forget that we are social creatures. We forget that, while other people can slow us down, they can also drive us to push past our lazy impulses, throw ourselves enthusiastically into our challenges, and ensure that we enjoy ourselves doing so.

Finding people that bring out the best in you isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do. Everyone is busy. But everyone wants these things too– to be more productive, to have more fun, to see what they can accomplish. So when you see an opportunity to harness this kind of situation, seize upon it.

And there’s no need to stick to the people you’re comfortable with. If you define the goals of the challenge, you’re really only going to get the people who want that thing, too. And if they want what you want, how much of a stranger can they really be? Maybe they’re just friends you haven’t met yet.

Some things to remember for next time:

  1. It feels risky, but it’s not. Inviting people you don’t know to join you is kind of intimidating. I get that. But everyone is flattered to be asked, even if they have other plans. Asking makes people feel wanted, you know. Don’t you enjoy knowing that people want you around?
  2. Facilitate interaction. Like a good host, you want to make sure everyone has a drink and a conversation partner. Don’t let people post without acknowledgement– ideally, everyone is going to make conversation on their own, but if not, make sure everyone’s contribution is acknowledged.
  3. Don’t try too hard to make it happen. Sometimes things don’t line up right. People are busy. Schedules are full. I got lucky with the Fiddly Task Slaughtering Party because a) it’s a pretty universal challenge, and b) summer is a slow season for a lot of people. Other times I haven’t been so lucky, and it’s been MORTIFYING, but luckily, this is the internet and no one is paying attention to me.

Have there been any opportunities to create a shared challenge that you’ve seized? What was the result?