Spell Check

For the last couple of weeks I have been writing about how fear impacts our business – most notably in our ability to bring new ideas and new thinking to our clients.

It could be that, despite the glamour, we really are in a very conservative business. Or it could be that, despite their stated intent to be leaders and champions of new thinking, it’s our clients who really are the conservative ones. Or it could be that we really are fearful of being held accountable for unexplored territory and untested concepts, or of having sweat on our palms. Or maybe it’s a little of all three, which is in fact my guess.

How do we break out? Can we really lessen the fear, or more correctly, the various sources of fear? Can we make ourselves more comfortable with risk?

The past few weeks have brought this home as around the world we have answered a number of important RFP and RFI’s, and I watched as we struggled, resisted, and fought ideas, concepts, thoughts, structures – anything that deviated from the tried and true.

It seems to me that our SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) should always be to start with a zero base. We should build from the bottom up and leverage what we know as opposed to using only what we are familiar with. We should challenge the clients in our answers – don’t make them comfortable either. You get the point…

Then I had an epiphany. My MS Word spell check is set to UK English, “real” English as my British friends would say, as opposed to USA English. I realized (or realised) that there are lots of ways to spell lots of different words in English. I did some web searching next.

I found out that at one time spelling was a creative exercise. You spelled words as you liked. Maybe you had a reason, or maybe you didn’t. Maybe it was a Muse, or maybe just a whim, but codification – of course – brought with it a sense of order, a “right way”, which by the way automatically assumes that there is a wrong way…

In fact, some of us – myself included – even leave excuse messages on our devices that don’t have spell check lest we seem less than erudite!

More research led me to stumble (the best research of all in my experience) over the following quote:

I don’t give a damn for a man that can only spell a word one way.
– Mark Twain

And there you have it! Lots of ways to spell. Lots of ways to think…

Go wild! Or is that wilde? Or even whiled!

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