I have always enjoyed studying statistics. So as I wondered how to go about writing a year in review-type post looking at this site’s first year of existence, naturally I was curious about the measurables.
184. 105. 37.
That’s a list of the number of total views, visitors, likes, comments, and posts, as well as followers on Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress. Those totals are more than I initially thought, and I guess I’m pretty pleased with that. But as I look at those numbers, I know it doesn’t tell the whole story. Numbers rarely tell the whole story.
I thought about the stories I wrote, starting with the very first post (4/3/18) on themuggo.com about my son. I remembered the one about the guy who grew up in the lap of luxury, only to see his fortune slowly dwindle until there was almost nothing left. Then the one about the guy with a traumatic childhood trying to figure out why it all happened and is still learning about his own mental health. I thought about the story of the father who lost his son.
Over the year I’ve seen some truly amazing things happen. I’ve seen others rally around these guys to give support and encouragement. I’ve seen complete strangers compelled to reach out based on their own experiences, ones they’ve been struggling with for years. In a time when arguing about politics, bickering about religion, antagonizing, chastising, judging, and marginalizing are commonplace, I watched these guys give up a part of their stories in an effort to help others, putting themselves in danger of being judged or mistreated. And the sort of unbelievable part is…it worked.
Then The Muggo Writing Contest happened. I thought it up in the shower one morning after hearing about a story-telling competition called The Monti. The Monti is such a cool idea and something I’d love to try someday, but I also understand that spoken word is not really my forté. I got booed off a tiny stage while giving a speech at a Christmas Party two years ago and I’ve still not totally recovered from the embarrassment. But writing? I can do that.
TMWC started out as a friendly competition. Hell, we wrote two weeks of awkward and goofy poetry. But then I started getting submissions for “fear week”. The last week of the contest, the guys were tasked with writing about their greatest fears. As soon as the participants started sending them to me, I knew I’d struck a nerve.
I’d encourage you to go back and read those fear stories if you happened to miss them, if only to better understand what happened next.
First, half of the guys dropped out of the contest. A couple of them had unrelated reasons to do so, but a few sat down to write about their greatest fear and quickly realized they weren’t in a healthy enough mental state to really see their stuff posted on the internet. Frankly, just spending time thinking about it and maybe even jotting down a few ideas was an excellent exercise for all of us. I was able to convince a couple to go ahead and post their stories, and I’m really glad they did. Because of their strength, more men reached out to me – unsolicited – to send in their greatest fear stories. They were impacted by what they’d read and wanted to give it a try. Because of that, “When It Rains, It Pours” was shared.
So where are we going to go from here?
It’s a great question, and I’m glad I asked. I met with some close friends – some awesome men full of wisdom and discernment – and asked them that question. Their answer, in a nutshell? Keep going.
Long story short, I lucked into something with TMWC. I wish I could say this was the plan all along, but I’m simply not that great of a visionary. The contest helped me realize there are more men out there who want to share their stories. And not just about fears, but about success, futility, fatherhood, marriage, careers, patience, etc. That’s why I started the site in the first place. “Telling stories, learning lessons”. My secondary goal to “bring people together through great story-telling” can be even more successful if I open this up to more perspectives from more people. So, that’s what I’m going to do.
You may have noticed a new header on the menu – “Submit A Story“. I won’t spend time explaining it here (just click the link if you’re curious), but essentially, I’m inviting others to share their stories on TheMuggo.com. You can write it, or I can write it. Either way is fine, but the important part is sharing what’s on your mind, because others can relate and could possibly learn from you.
If you’re the least bit inclined to do something like this, I would love to have a conversation with you. What lesson have you learned recently that you think others could benefit from? What topic is important to you that you’d like to bring awareness to? What is something you remember from a long time ago that you now smile and shake your head at? How many sentences in a row can I end with a preposition?
A little grammar joke for the real ones.
It’s three. Three sentences is my record so far.
In all seriousness, I’m inviting readers to get more involved to help this website have a more meaningful existence. Like I said, the first year of themuggo.com exceeded my expectations, but I sense there’s more work to be done. If you want to get involved, or even if you’re on the fence, take that first step and contact me. Let’s go! ♦
See what others had to say about sharing their story with The Muggo:
It took me over a year to get the courage to sit down with Sam to tell my story. He was great in that he would just encourage me and waited on me. When we sat down to do the story Sam was an amazing listener. He made me feel so comfortable getting uncomfortable. I would encourage anyone out there if you have something to share, Sam can put it to words in one special way.
-Dana (Gibson’s Story)
Sam is very laid back and a great listener, I think that’s why it was so easy to sit down and talk with him about deep stuff. Combine that with his word-smithing abilities and what you have is a recipe for something special. If you have a lesson or story to share, share it with Sam, you won’t regret it.
I wasn’t sure what to expect coming out of working with Sam for the Muggo but the end result was certainly not it. He took the rambling disjointed story I shared with him over a few beers (he brought… I drank) and turned it into something about a deeper truth. I hope someday soon he and I get to talking about the time my friend and I started a Star Trek appreciation club in college and see what he can make of THAT misguided effort at meeting the ladies.
-Adam (Whitecaps and Icebergs)
Callahan (aka Sam) and I were likely the first in our region to open up and share the difficult story of what F3 has meant to us and why it matters, it was a day of bread breaking a couple years ago with our F3 brothers. Since that day, we have developed a stronger, more open relationship. So when he asked me if I had a story, I was all in. Callahan has a knack for creating an environment for honesty and openness, asking tough questions, not judging, and getting to the heart of the story. Through this process I have grown, I no longer carry the burden that once was a source of shame and regret. I learned about myself during that interview and I am thankful.
-Jim (Riches To Rags)