Two Spelling Mistakes Taught Me More About ‘Taking The Plunge’ Than Any Book Ever Did
The story of how to overcome what holds you back.
Have you ever wondered what holds you back from taking a chance? I am sharing my spelling mistake experiences and a simple story that may resonate with you.
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. I saw hope on the other side of the red spelling circles on my English papers!
As I grew older, I learnt something subtler from this story. Imperfect startup pitches can lead early investors to the aroma of an exceptional product. Those simple imperfections can be endearing to those early adopters (to borrow a marketing parlance) — they love the social right to brag about you growing under their tutelage. Your awesome product is their first big draw.
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.
What is what I learnt early from that story. What brought it all back? A personal spelling mistake, in my previous blog.
From Deliberate To Inadvertent Spelling Mistake — My Writing Aha.
I added a wrong apostrophe 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 in his comment on my 100th blog, “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, that eulogy 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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