A young man was lost in his ways. He entered a restaurant of an old couple to get help.
As he entered, the aroma was heavenly. The old couple helped him with his directions. The restaurant was empty. He chose to eat there anyway. The aroma was faithful to the food. He did full justice.
What happened next is why I remember this story [from Tinkle Comics, a children’s anthology edited by the ever memorable Uncle Pai.] I read it during my elementary or early middle school years in India.
The young man asked the older couple, “how is business?” He could immediately sense their crestfallen look. He thought for a moment, “Can I borrow a ladder?” he asked. Puzzled, the owner lent him one. The young man went outside and changed the banner name/tagline. “You misspelled what we stand for,” shared the concerned old man. “Watch the magic,” replied the young man with a quiet confidence.
And the magic happened. Passers by who ignored them before, continued to ignore them. The curious and the helpful ones came by to let them know about the mistake. Once inside, the aroma did the magic– the banner stuck and the business soared by word of mouth.
At that young age, my first reaction — I wanted my English teacher to read this story.
As I grew older, I learned something subtler from this story. Imperfect writing can lead early readers to the aroma of an exceptional product. Those simple imperfections can be endearing to those early adopters — they love the social right to brag about you growing under their tutelage. Your awesome product is their first big draw and their ability to see through inspite of the early lack of sheen.
The bigger takeaway, there is value in humility — not in how you chop your vegetables but in the way you lead early customers to the food with a grace that implicitly echoes — there are things I may not know, happy to hear your perspectives.
That is what I learned early from that story. What brought it all back? A personal spelling mistake, in an earlier blog.
From Deliberate To Inadvertent Spelling Mistake — My Writing Aha.
I misspelled Berkeley right in the title! Oops. One gentle soul let me know. I re-looked at the title, chuckled at myself, gently shrugged my shoulders, thanked the gentle soul and corrected it.
Many gentle souls have guided me before. While I was correcting the previous blog title, something clicked. I have spoken to many folks who expressed an earnestness to write. Often, the risk of oops moments like mine hold them back from sharing their great ideas.
I am not here to say my spelling mistakes are ok. Let me be honest — they are embarrassing. I do not plan to stand on stage and say “it all depends on how you react”, use editing tools or hire an editor (if you are particular, I can recommend).
Instead, I plan to share my experience with this picture as reference.
When an idea clicks and it is close to my heart, the words flow and I end up publishing with the flow — I call them my green quadrant blogs. Other times, I work relatively hard to have picture perfect ones in blue quadrants. My experience- the green writings are my most well-received ones. The obvious part, the time spent moving from “well written world” to the “perfect flawless writing world” takes 80% of the time. This is true for all qualities of idea.
The not so obvious aha, many folks share that they are worried how their ideas would be received. If you dig deeper, many are brimming with great ideas. Without realizing it, they implicitly worry about ending in Quadrant B!
Yet, my experience suggests that an interesting idea, well written [quadrant B] is better received than a good idea, perfectly written [quadrant C].
Bringing it together.
Titles can be powerful — errors in them more so. The content of this blog is my living proof — from deliberate errors to inadvertent ones.
Flawless beauty as poetry of words can be breathtaking. That is the ideal Option A. If setting that bar dissuades the soul from penning thoughts and showcasing it to the world, I will live with the imperfections.
Having said that, I acknowledge the words of Martin Wright, “Writing … is something that takes courage and the will to put oneself forward.” In that context, one thing is certain. If the bar was set tight with zero tolerance to err, I had zero chance.
If the bar is about how you react to your grammar errors/typos, address them and learn from them — I am all game to take the chance. As Sheryl Sandberg famously said, “Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the sh*t out of option B.”
In taking a chance to write — that email, that letter, that blog or that heart felt thank you — the seeds of your brimming ideas locked deep inside you , see the light, soar in the air and spread their wings .
Where they land and what samplings they nourish, you may never know. By chance, when you come to know about one of them — your words, your poetry, your identity, your success is a celebration that is truly more than you. That unbridled joy is worth a lifetime.
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Wishes from [my] positive social influencers:
Krishnan Kandadai, Enabler of win-win relationships , Drive strategic partnerships, “We are all not here to win the Spell Bee contest ! We are here to share and enjoy each other’s posts. I love your approach to writing Karthik Rajan”
Ray Besserdin, Paper Sculpture Artist & Gallery Owner at Ray Besserdin Paper Sculpture Artist Gallery
“Nice piece Karthik. While I’m a paper sculpture artist today, long before that I started out in advertising. I saw something in your multi-level story that is so relevant to marketing and advertising. Spell a name or take a common object, make it seem wrong and people will notice and comment. You just caught their attention! By the way, you write better than many people who only speak English!! Well done.😃 Cheers Ray”
Samiksha Seth, Storyteller|Blockchain|Fintech|Reiki practitioner|Content Strategist @Teknospire, “WOW… thats a really a masterpiece… few years back even I wrote a post on “spelling mistakes” …. my intention was that I already have so much to remember why should I worry on how that particular word spells… we MS word and Auto correct option now with every tool…so why bother !
but you gave a new perspective…. loved it!
I feel so ownered to read your posts…keep them coming.”
Lisa Dantas, Passionate about helping organisations reach their objectives through processes and people. “Karthik, what resonated with me are your words about taking the courage to write — that email, blog, letter or heart felt thank you. You said that when the words come from your heart, they flow and are well received. How true. I have not met you but in reading each of your blog posts, I get to know you and sense your authenticity and that you are being genuine. That is why I remember you and the many stories you have shared.”
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Leave you with this quote.
“Nobody likes to fail, but when the fear of failure translates into taking fewer risks and not reaching for our dreams, it often means never moving ahead.” Ariana Huffington
I embrace writing [with all my flaws]. Period.