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“Little Old Letter” and 3 Lessons for Entrepreneurs


Today we are examining “Little Old Letter” by Langston Hughes and Its 3 Lessons for Entrepreneurs. Langston.  Poetry is a great way to learn lessons in a more relaxed way than traditional learning methods.

 Let’s start by checking out the poem.

 Little Old Letter by Langston Hughes

Just a little old letter,

Wasn’t even one page long-

But it made me wish

I was in my grave and gone.

I turned it over,

Not a word writ on the back.

I never felt so lonesome

Since I was born black.

Just a pencil and paper,

You don’t need no gun nor knife-

A little old letter

Can take a person’s life.

As stated above, this great poem has 3 lessons for entrepreneurs. These lessons are:

  1. A few words can have a big impact.
  2. People’s words can destroy us.
  3. Our words can destroy others.

A few words can have a big impact.

The first of the lessons for entrepreneurs that is found in this short poem is that words can have a tremendous impact. In this poem, the narrator’s whole world was turned upside down with “just a little old letter.” It did not take pages upon pages of words. Just a few words on one side of a page completely destroyed the narrator. There were just a few words written in pencil on a piece of paper. Yet those words were enough to make the narrator feel lonely, suicidal, and devastated.

Entrepreneurs must be careful with their words choices. By using the wrong word to describe something, messages can be mangled. Using one word instead of another to describe something can cause hurt feelings. Poor words choices can lead to loss opportunities. A picture may be worth 1,000 words, and those words matter. When we use our words wisely we can create change and do wonderful things. Hashtags such as #blacklivesmatter, #meto, and #sayhername are small words that have had a big impact on American life.

Check out “Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes and 3 Lessons for Entrepreneurs

People’s words can destroy us.

The second of the lessons for entrepreneurs in this poem is that people’s words can destroy us.  The narrator describes wishing she was in her grave the letter was so devastating. This letter gave her the loneliest day of her life. A simple letter, not a traditional weapon was powerful enough to snatch a life. The devastation that the narrator felt upon reading the letter is palpable. As you read the words, you can see her grave. You can feel her loneliness. The feeling of being brought to death’s door is real and almost visible on the page. The narrator was destroyed by the words on the page.

As entrepreneurs, it is important for us to remember that just a few words can destroy us. Twitter messages for example are capped at a mere 240 characters. Yet a few well phrased tweets have destroyed businesses, reputations, and lives. When interacting on social media, entrepreneurs must be careful what they say. If they respond improperly to a current event, the business can quickly be destroyed or damaged beyond repair. We have all seen stories on the news or in social media about someone being taken down by a few tweets or Facebook posts.

Our words can destroy others.

The third  of the lessons for entrepreneurs found in this poem is that our words can destroy others.  Almost everyone has heard the expression, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”  As a person who was called names as a child, I can attest that names can hurt you.

Names do hurt. That is why kids call each other names. Kids call each other names in order to cause pain. They want to hurt the person being called names. Likewise, an entrepreneur’s words to a client are powerful. Your words can empower a client and make them want to do business with you again and again. Or your words can make a client feel devastated and worthless. That client will never want to work with you again. The power of our words is almost limitless in power to impact others. No matter what you do, choose your words carefully.

Check out Take Action Now and Stop Chasing Shiny Red Balls

The poem “Little Old Letter” by Langston Hughes has three lessons or entrepreneurs. These lessons are that a few words can have a big impact, people’s words can destroy us, and our words can destroy others. These are great lessons for entrepreneurs to learn and embrace. So, the question for you this wonderful day is what lessons did you learn from this m.

Take a moment now to reflect on these lessons. How can you put them into play in your business? Be sure to share your ideas in the comment section. You may help someone find a breakthrough.

Janeane Davis

View Comments

  • Words can have such a big impact. I try to tell that to my students all of the time. I see some kids really feel the words going for and against them. We encourage positive culture but sometimes the kids mess up, and there's always a price to pay for the target.

  • I love this. note taking is such a huge part of learning and growing as an entrepreneur.

  • Thank you for sharing the poem with us and inspiring words

  • You always share amazing tips! Our words can destroy others - this is so true and sadly, not many of us understand this!

  • What a great powerful poem. So true too, our words can impact people a lot

  • It is so true that words are so powerful. Goes both for positive and negative. I think we are in an age when people don't give as much thought to their words.

  • Thank you for sharing this poem with us! It's short but full of meaning. And the also I am so glad to know the 3 lessons we could learn from here as an entrepreneur.

  • This is so true! Our words can have an incredible impact. I try to teach my kids this lesson all the time.

  • Informative post to read and for me, choosing the right words to say is really important because every words that we could say can affect on us and other people's lives.

  • Yes, I am so agree that words have a tremendous impact... on us, on other, on everything around us. We really need to be more careful about it!

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