Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sit right down & write a letter

A lot of you won’t even remember that great old 30’s tune “I’m gonna sit right down and write myself a letter”. It is a catchy tune and has been recorded many times by the who’s who of crooners over the last 70 years, including Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Barry Manilow and even Willie Nelson. I’ve linked Nat King Cole’s version here since it’s my big band favorite. Now the REAL point of all this is, at times, YOU should invest some of your precious time and actually sit down and truly write yourself a letter.

Oh no he’s gone all ‘new age’ on us now – time to find a new blog. No, I’m still fairly practical in my philosophies, but I have found this technique of addressing oneself in writing helpful in several ways. First, there have been times in my business life, that I have become, uh let’s say … frustrated, at the way my bosses have approached problems. Instead of blurting out my objections along with how STUPID my superiors were, I FIRST took the time to pen out my issues and formulate a more TACTFUL response. Not only did it allow me a chance to stay employed a little longer, but I could plan countermeasures better to deal with any objections to my way of thinking as well as my own logic issues (NEVER!). This process does not have to be formal at all. Simply step back before you leap, jot down a few notes and think. You’ll be amazed at how helpful it can be to be your own stenographer and ‘Yes man’ all rolled into one.

My daughter’s school has done this second letter writing technique on at least two occasions. Her class was instructed to write a letter to her ‘future self’ and describe what she was learning, doing, and excited by in her future. This is usually limited to only a few years since kids change so quickly, but you get the idea. Write down what you ARE doing in the future and what is important to you then. It is a bit like setting a very long term New Year’s resolution. It may be helpful to refer to that written goal from time to time for anyone my age, but for the kids they actually MAILED the letters a few years later. If nothing else it makes for an interesting time capsule memento and snapshot of the way you saw yourself from an younger and often less sophisticated vantage point.

Abraham Lincoln became even more of a legend for his amazing restraint and letter writing. During the Civil War, after enduring a parade of lackluster Generals from McClellen to Hooker, Lincoln was greatly angered that General George Meade failed to attack General Robert E. Lee after Lee’s devastating losses at Gettysburg in July 1863. Lincoln wrote a scathing letter to Meade, that he effectively and single-handedly had prolonged the war - but Lincoln NEVER SENT that famous letter. Lincoln chose thoughtful restraint rather than rash reaction. Lincoln’s actions eventually stewarded a cantankerous Meade with a big ego to even stay on and serve ably under General Ulysses S. Grant and ultimately secure the war’s end in April, 1865. Lesson Learned: Check your ego, think long term, and write a letter … then promptly keep it to yourself. You can always send scathing criticism and complaints later so THINK first, plan next, and DO LAST!

Whew, that got a bit more ‘cerebral’ than I had intended, especially after starting out with a fun ditty about writing letters to yourself. Ok, to redeem this post and return the blogosphere to its vacuous philosophical ‘Facebook-esque’ roots, I have linked the “Letters Never Sent” website here. I know this site may waste more of your precious time but then again you have plenty of it – you got through this post didn’t you?

1 comment:

  1. I almost didn't get back after clicking the Nat Cole link. Great, but saw another tune I liked even better by Nat: "L-O-V-E." That trunpet solo MUST be Clifford Brown, or someone who loves him as much as I do. Oh, about letters. You're right. Isn't this sorta one? Maybe if stamps were cheaper we'd use USPS more. (Or if writing tweets was more expensive.)