A 7-Word Reminder: “Don’t correct people when it matters little.”

Hey there!

I used to be in a great online mastermind, that at one point in time or another, included some of the most famous people on the Internet.

Like Craig Newmark.

Don’t know him? He’s the Craig in Craigslist. And when he was in the group, he mentioned these seven words as being one of his biggest lessons in life. So when I was forwarded this as the subject of an Inc. Magazine article about Craig, it brought back some lovely early 21st century memories.

But I also felt very, very embarrassed. Here’s why.

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Hope this helps!


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hey there it’s David H Lawrence the 17th
and I got to tell you I’m feeling a
little embarrassed
I’m feeling reminiscent but I’m also
feeling a little embarrassed and I’m
making a pledge to you that I’m going to
work on what I’m about to talk about so
I used to be in what a lot of people
call mastermind groups or online groups
that are private and that the members
used to be called executive clubs but
now they’re called mastermind groups
basically it’s a group of people to get
together either in person or online or a
combination of the two and they pull
together their business expertise in the
group that I was in it was storytelling
and on-camera presence when people
started using video podcasting things
that I knew and what I got from other
members were the things that they were
really good at and that included things
like email marketing and ad copywriting
and what else teaching using technology
like Google Adsense video editing coding
things like that
so the thing about the group that I was
in was it at one time or another there
were members of that group that are
internet famous people like Chris
Parrillo people like Jeff Walker and
people like Craig Newmark and if Craig
Newmark doesn’t ring a bell with you
then think about the fact that Craig who
is a billionaire is the Craig in
Craigslist so if you know if you’ve read
any articles about him if you know him
he’s one of the real early internet
pioneers I mean Craigslist continues
this day to look like it was a website
built in 1993 because it was and it
stays that way and it loads really fast
because it’s text only other than when
you get to the actual postings that
people put up so when we were both in
this mastermind together one of the
things that we used to do in the
mastermind is we had what were called
hot seats where somebody would say hey
I’ve got this thing that is a challenge
to me I love it if the the hive mind if
all the minds got together and we were
able to figure out a solution and other
times we would do hot seats where we
would say give us the one piece of
advice that you were given early on that
helped add to your success or kept you
from making a really critical errors and
I’ll never forget it was probably 2002
or 2003 when Craig said in one of our
mastermind meetings I learned very early
on that I was being a jerk and I wasn’t
very well-liked at work and my boss this
is before he became an entrepreneur my
boss took me aside and he said look
people don’t like you because you’re
constantly nitpicking at them you’re
constantly correcting them can I give
you a piece of advice
he said don’t correct people when it
matters little
and when he said that way back in 2002
or 2003 a light bulb went on for me
because that’s what I was doing all the
time I would somebody would say the
wrong word or they would mispronounce a
word or they would you know not have
their turn signal on when they made a
lane change any anything that I found
and and the embarrassing part is for a
while I really was watching myself and
making sure that I wasn’t doing that
and then I kind of fell back into my old
ways and you know I’ve been I’ve been in
a relationship with Betsy now for as we
do this video probably nine almost nine
years and she’s learned to make light of
when I can’t help myself and I say that
she goes you have a really big job don’t
you you know and so it’s a reminder that
it’s one of those things that I need to
work on I want everybody to look great I
want everybody to be successful but
sometimes correcting people especially
over stuff that really just doesn’t
matter at the moment can be looked at as
a real annoyance
and it reminded me that even when we try
to be our best and try to shave and hone
and refine and make things better do
more of what works in less of what
doesn’t sometimes it doesn’t stick even
though our best intentions are in place
and my commitment is that I’m going to
watch I’m going to be a little bit more
aware and watch for moments when I feel
that way like I want to correct somebody
I want to tell I want to tell the guy on
the news that’s not how that word is
pronounced I want to tell the guy on the
radio you’re wrong when you think about
that you know it doesn’t matter it
doesn’t matter and when it matters
little you can let it go and I would
think that people would find that a
little bit more palatable
then the me that wants to make sure
everything is perfect and wants to
correct people who are imperfect and so
I’m just making a commitment that I’m
going to do that from now on I’m going
to try my best to
a lose that habit and be hold myself
back when I feel like it’s important
that I let people know what the truth is
what the correct especially when it
matters little it doesn’t mean I’m not
going to correct people when I’m
coaching them because that’s what
they’re paying me to do but what it does
mean is I’m going to be a lot calmer I’m
going to be a lot easier to get along
with hopefully I’ll be better liked I’ll
be I’ll be a less caustic person I mean
I can only imagine the people that I’ve
corrected in the last 10 years or so and
what they must think and I don’t want
them to think ill so anyway it’s
something that I’m gonna work on and
maybe that resonates with you if it does
let me know in the comments below if
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leave the comments okay if you leave
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for you I’m David H Lawrence xvii thank
you so much for watching and I will talk
to you tomorrow.



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  1. David,

    This one really hit home for me. My wife and I have been together for nearly 20-years, and long ago, she started jumping the gun to correct herself before I did. Yikes. I stop myself from doing it a lot more than those times that I slip – and thank God, I don’t correct my wife anymore – call that “stupid husband moments.” These days, I find myself talking to the people on the radio and TV when they screw up, and even then, I feel embarrassed that I just let such a little thing get to me.

    So thank you for the reminder to stop being a jerk! LOL


    1. Hi, Veleka;
      I think you’ll find that both pronunciations are correct, and both are listed in most dictionaries. Saying off-ten is more commonly British, but it’s done either way. So don’t correct Seth when it matters little, as I just corrected you !?!
      Mitch G.

      1. Mitch, the way it was explained to me was you don’t say LIS-TEN. You say lis-en. I think that if OFTEN (sounding the T) is now listed as correct it’s not because Webster (or whoever) changed anything, but educated people give up trying to correct uneducated people when the latter in their ignorance say it wrong too often. 😛

        1. Maybe write Seth to compliment his British pronunciation of OFF-TEN and how cute it is 🙂 That would probably entice him to look it up….and decide for himself if it matters a little, or alot 🙂

      2. Great advice. Something sometimes I forget to follow.
        Every once in awhile I find myself in a debate of sorts around what’s correct and what’s not, and every time so far that entire debate ended fruitless.
        I have a friend that tries to correct people with who and whom, and half the time he’s incorrect. He just looks like an ass.

    2. Veleka, I’m with you. I took a voice & diction class my freshman year of college and we were taught that the T is not pronounced in often. It also drives me nuts when people pronounce the G in hanger. 🙂

  2. Oh my goodness, yes this resonates. I’ve been called on interrupting and talking over people before they are finished talking….I am actually writing this as you are signing off – Do’h! But seriously it stung the way I was called on it over 20 years ago, but it has stuck and I try to catch myself but its an ongoing process, and something that I need to keep in mind when I am with people. Sometimes I win at it, sometimes not so much. But I think, David, if we are working on it we are on the right trajectory!

    1. Kristen, I believe a person’s response depends on the personality of the person you’re correcting. I like to be corrected if I’m doing it wrong. I DO sweat the small stuff, and I’m most comfortable being in the company of others who feel the same way.

  3. Nope. I wouldn’t know about correcting people. Nope. Not me. Never done it. Couldn’t–hold on–my nose is growing larger–it’s touching the screen! Help! 😉

    I agree–even if I take a friendly tone and correct somebody’s grammar or speech, I come off as a grammar Nazi or a jerk. Best to just let it go unless this is in a professional context, like I’m editing or correcting somebody’s paper.

    Good post. Thanks!

  4. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to be perfect, and trying to put that on other people. It doesn’t always go over so well. This video resonates with me. Thanks for the video David.

  5. I had a meaningful conversation with the guy I podcast with last week. We were trying to hash out the business side of what has now become a legitimate small business for us. He took us to the next level by landing sponsors and planning out our marketing and I had to then back that up with the appropriate paperwork and make sure we incorporated correctly and filed our taxes. There’s a lot of complexity that goes with that, but it’s not hard to manage it if everyone does their thing.

    I found I had to push people constantly and they’d still completely miss the goal, or they wouldn’t feel the same sense of importance that I did and I’d have to check in with them repeatedly. I’m not a strict guy or a continuous critic (of anyone besides myself), so I hated to always be the guy saying, “Hey, I need you to do this” to people. I found myself apologizing to him if I seemed fussy and obsessive.

    “You’re not fussy or obsessive, really,” he said. “I think you just want people to come through for you. You need to know they’ll do what they say they do, and you expect them to be able to do it.”

    He’s right. Truth to tell, I’d rather not have to do any of it–but if we’re committing to it, well, then I have to make sure we stay committed ’til we’ve done all that we need to.

    If it’s truly not important, I’d rather just let people do their thing. If it *is* important, be the driver of everyone’s success.