The Scoop @ MSCO

A Letter To A Lover. A Letter To Yourself.

No one writes letters any more. Considering the options, they are cumbersome and reach the other party with glacial speed. So why bother. Zip off an email and move on to your iPod. Next.

from cattycamehome at flickr.comStart writing your letter. From athena from Flickr.comWell, not so fast. And not so simple. We don’t write letters, in part, because they impart a sense of permanence, of legitimacy, of the genuine article, of here today and here tomorrow. Of the heart.

We have begun to accept the fact that this Teflon approach is ok because here today and here tomorrow is somehow scary. All the what ifs cloud the thinking. What if I can’t do it for long? What if the passion melts? What if I get hurt? What if, what if. What if you tell a lover of your love and the love disappears? Better off not saying it at all. Not in a letter.

And that’s the real reason people don’t write letters anymore. Because the letters have a feel of permanence. Because there is no delete button. Because once you send it, you have exposed yourself. And today, our culture says, only fools do that. The wise believe they are in the self-protection business. But are they really? Aren’t they protecting themselves from the passions, the vagaries, and the mysteries that make life so majestic?

We don’t want to write a letter to a lover because we don’t want to write a letter to ourselves. Spilling out passion about another is as much about you as it is about them, and that means exposure and fear and why not just send a cute, sly, meaningless text message.

Writing to yourself has to do with your success, or lack of it, in business and in love. Yes in both. For years I promised myself that I would make a radical change in my company’s business model and for years I did nothing of the sort. I sat on the sidelines and watched myself think. I never put my goal in a letter to myself because that would be a promise. The letter would be there staring me in the face. It would be harder to hide. And hide I did.

So often people tell me of frustrations in their careers, jobs changes they are going to make, initiatives they are going to drive, education they are going to get, inventions they are going to create. And when I check back with them, zero. Nothing. They never put it in a letter and they never did it and so often they never will.Plant your lips on someone. From Thomas Hawk at

Ever see someone blow a kiss? Of course you have. Why do they do that? Why don’t they walk right up and plant their lips on the other person’s? Because it is so intimate. So real. And so many of us are so afraid of that that we lie to ourselves and make secret promises we will never fulfill. That we will never put in a letter.

It is just so much easier to play it safe, to blame the gods, to fall short of our potential, to avoid changing our business models, to refuse to look in the mirror. To avoid risk at all cost.

And what a cost it is.

Mark Stevens

What are you afraid to put in your letter?


  1. Mara Samuels ∣ October 26th / 2007 at 5:09 pm

    This is an interesting post. In 2000, a business colleague advised to write myself a check to help keep me on track with my goals. I took his suggestion and wrote a check payable to myself. It is dated (May 8, 2000 to be exact) and on it I listed some major life goals (both personal and professional). Signing it was like making a promise to myself. To this day I still carry that piece of paper around in my wallet. I check it every so often (usually when I buy a new wallet which, trust me, is very infrequently!) Whenever I come across this now very well-worn bit of paper I am amazed at how many of the goals I can cross off as having been accomplished. I still have 2 things left,to do among the goals I set in 00 (and there many) and, of course, as my life and career progress I identified many new goals. This post inspired me to think about writing myself a new check or maybe even an entire letter! Or both!

  2. Mark ∣ October 27th / 2007 at 10:24 am

    So many whine and blame the fates. You wrote a check and went out and earned it . Yes!
    Mark Stevens

  3. Ivana Taylor ∣ October 27th / 2007 at 12:55 pm

    This is a wonderful and insightful post on so many levels. I also like to references and connections you’ve made between letters to ourselves and love letters. When I look back on my foolish younger self, I can remember writing some stupid things in love letters. Yet, I don’t know that I would write something equally as frivolous to myself. Writing a letter to yourself is perhaps the most difficult audience we will ever face.

  4. Mark ∣ October 29th / 2007 at 11:16 pm

    You know something Ivana, nothing you wrote was foolish then nor would it be now. You had the courage of heart and romance. That is too rare to ever regret. Let the protectors of whatever the hell they are trying to protect keep doing what they do.

    You live and love!

    Mark Stevens

  5. Ms. G ∣ July 17th / 2008 at 10:35 am

    I just wanted to let you know I really enjoyed this piece. On the first day of school, I usually have my students write letters to themselves discussing their goals for the year. They often find it hard or too silly to take seriously, but at the end of the year, they LOVE reading them. I hope (with the article) they can take this activity a bit more seriously and make a positive change in their academic careers.


  6. Spring Camerano ∣ March 17th / 2010 at 10:35 am

    I adore your website a lot. Will bookmark. Keep up to briliant work on it. ty

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