The Devil Is In the Details

They say that "the devil is in the details" - and there is a lot of truth in that saying... but not the way most people think.

Let me show you what I mean...

Of late, I've received a few emails criticizing me on minor offenses in grammar, spelling, spacing, and other rules of the English tongue. (And, all along I thought it was my right as an American to slaughter the English language... the British have been accusing us of it for over 200 years!)

In the past it was from people going to my site or reading some of my samples. Since it was never from clients or potential clients, I just ignored it. Casual readers don't ever pay.

But, since I have started coaching and doing seminars, it has been coming from those who are looking to me to be their coach and mentor. So, I have felt compelled to respond.

You see, I have a very deep, serious concern for the income and welfare of those who look to me for training and leadership. I love them and give my heart to them. So, it kind of hurts when they look past that and focus on the "details"... details that, in the long run, are insignificant by all standards.

It's even more concerning to me when good people let bad grammar steal their dreams and their hopes of a better future.

I don't want that to happen to you. So, I've decided to share with you some of my responses to these emails in hopes that you will benefit from them and not let the "devil" get you to focus on these kinds of "details"...

Now, having no interest in offending any of these good people that wrote to me, I'm only going to give you my answers. Just know that the complaints are usually the same... "you spelled such-and-such wrong"... "how can I listen to a man who talks about writing, but can't even punctuate properly"... "did you know that you have a ton of spacing errors? That is going to cost you a lot of money"... "hour subject line in the last email was really weak and confusing... I almost didn't open it"... etc...

Oh, and you should know, that it always comes from people that are not making any money as copywriters. Bob Bly, Clayton Makepeace, or Michael Masterson, have never sent me those kinds of emails, even though they have all read my stuff.

Anyway, here's two of my replies that might be enlightening to you...

Reply #1...

I see this all the time.

People spend hours being preoccupied with a typo, a spelling error, or some other mistake on someone else's part, that they fail to utilize their mental energies on becoming successful. One man emailed me recently and told me that they have been reading AWAI's stuff for years, but could never really get themselves to implement any of it because there were typos in AWAI's materials. How could a writing company have typos in their materials? It must be bunk, he said to me.

Think of that!

While he was focused on typos, I was making hundreds of thousands and enjoying tons of free time with my family. What has he been doing all these years? Complaining about his 9-5 job, lack of time, dearth of money... and a few minor typos. In his mind, his miserable life is AWAI's fault! Sad. Very sad.

No man or woman has ever, or can ever, reach their full potential until they are willing and able to take unfettered and unmitigated responsibility for every aspect of their own lives. Those preoccupied with finding fault in and laying blame on others never blossom fully.

Reply #2...

You're not the first... and certainly won't be the last... to tell me about typos and errors.

If it has affected my income - and no doubt it has - I've not noticed it.

And no, I'm not offended. And, if I lose grace in your eyes as a result of my sloppy writing, I apologize. But a word of counsel there... if your high esteem is based on perfection then you will be forever disappointed in others and expecting something of them that is impossible for you to give. Such is life.

Let me end by saying this...

You and I have a god-given right to choose every second of every day what we will focus on. It is the power that defines us as human beings. Those small and simple choices you make each day combine to build you a life of happiness, wealth, peace and love... misery, pain, poverty, and frustration... or something in between. But never forget this... the choice is yours.

If you choose to get caught up in the lesser things like typos and grammatical errors, then truly, "the devil is in the details" and you can never reach your full potential.

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Published: June 15, 2010

2 Responses to “The Devil Is In the Details”

  1. Joshua, I think you may have missed the point these readers were making. We do indeed all have the choice: do I buy from this guy?

    I think the point is that if you were selling car tyres, nobody would care about your grammar or a few typos.

    From a writer selling marketing and communication strategies however, people do expect polished language.

    The fact that your holy trinity (Bob, Clayton and Michael) does not take the time to point out your mistakes, does not change this credibility issue.


  2. Thank you for the perspective! I used to be one of those who never started my work because I was focused on others' mistakes. I was frustrated that my "teachers" wrote worse than me. Of course, I didn't write at all-go figure. BUT NOW-I relaxed on those things but try to edit while I still have more time than money (ha). A good disclaimer would be, "If you find errors, don't worry. Some folks look for them, and I tried to put something in for everybody." Appreciate you-see you at BootCamp 2010.

    With a Joyful Heart - DJ Butler

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