Friday night I was feeling kind of down. It had been a week of highs and lows. The highs were a mix of positive discussions with friends about new business starts, watching a community come together to support one of their own, and work on an exciting business proposal. The lows included some personal challenges that were soon grossly over-shadowed by two separate tragedies that touched the lives of my friends.
As I sat at my laptop, sending #FollowFriday thank you notes on Twitter and posting articles and other tidbits to friends, I pulled a quote from my quote file (a mix of things that I have collected over the years)and shot it out on @JKWGrowth. The post read…
“The real tragedy of the poor is the poverty of their aspirations. ” ~ Adam Smith
It was meaningful to me. I had seen examples repeatedly in over 30 years of volunteer work. True poverty often breeds despair and with it the death of peoples’ aspirations.
Can you imagine living in circumstances where you lost the desire or the belief that you could achieve something high or great? Is that not a tragedy?
When logging in Saturday morning, I gained a different perspective from two readers who saw it quite differently. There was yet another reader who, having read their tweets in response to mine, ‘respectfully’ asked if I could prove that Adam Smith had said that with a citation.
So, I stopped what I was doing, went upstairs to my office, pulled out my copies of Adam Smith’s books and other historical economics texts and started looking. Two hours later I had no citation to quote. Just numerous websites and references to the quote but no citation of where it had originated from. Maybe he said it. Maybe he did not. (Unfortunately, much of what Smith once said and wrote is lost. He lived well before the age of recordings and instructed that many of his private notes and writings be destroyed shortly before his death.) Time for a retraction and, in one case, an apology.
You may be wondering, why bother with an apology. Well, one of the people upset by this quote took what I wrote very personally. Here is some of what she wrote to me in a string of tweets on Twitter after reading this quote. “Having been homeless, in foster care for poverty, lost hearing due 2 untreated infection…” “Then earning my PhD w/ expertise in poverty… In other words, actually getting it, I know how to spot a derogatory quote.” (These notes still appeared in her public twitter stream at the time of this writing. )
Her short story (via tweets) was inspirational. Not only did she rise above her own challenges to pursue her PhD, but she did so in a field where she can make a difference for others in a similar circumstance. Case in point, her story is a testament to both her strength and her aspirations.
I responded to her tweet as a direct message with an apology. It failed. She was not following me; perhaps because of the tweet or perhaps she never was. So I tried again later, and then when that too failed, sent it as an @Reply. Maybe she’ll read it – and maybe she won’t.
So, what have I learned:
- Read what you tweet carefully and think before you send. What makes sense in 140c to you, may be read very differently by others.
- Check credible sources – the quote or fact you have heard for years may not be entirely accurate or supportable.
- As a courtesy – if you engage in a conversation with someone on Twitter, be sure you are following them so that they can respond to you privately if appropriate.
But most of all, I was reminded, that no matter what your circumstance, holding on to your aspirations, continuously looking up to a higher goal, and having the strength to make that goal a reality is what success is all about.
Thanks for stopping by…Stay tuned.
– Joan Koerber-Walker