Elysha and I saw this sign in a shop window while browsing on Martha’s Vineyard last weekend.
I know this is going to seem like a tiny thing, but it’s not:
The word “Barely” transforms an otherwise innocuous message into something so much more.
The word “Barely” accomplishes so much:
1. It makes the sign both noticeable and memorable by zigging when most people would zag. It dares to be different. It represents an effort and a desire to rise above mediocrity and create something new and interesting.
2. It’s funny. Not laugh out loud funny but definitely amusing, and humor is a great way to get attention, be memorable, and make people smile. Making people smile is something we should seek to do as often as possible in this life
3. It’s vulnerable. It’s unabashed honesty about the quantity of cool air being added to the interior of the store sets this sign apart from all others. It won’t be a secret to customers that the interior of the store is cooler than the outdoors but not exactly AC cool, so why not be upfront about it? Vulnerability appeals to people. Audiences are drawn to those who are willing to say the things that most people will not say. We are drawn to those who are willing to acknowledge their faults, weakness, and failure. Vulnerability is hard, courageous, and always appreciated. This sign represents all of that. It’s a signal that the people in this shop are true and honest in what they say.
I know I’ve managed to write a lot of words about just one word, but I really do think that much can be learned about this one word. It’s an excellent reminder that we need not spend a lot of money or a lot of time to do something a little bit different and a whole lot better than what most folks are doing today.
It’s also – and I know this will sound a little grandiose – a perfect lesson for living a full and complete life.
As people, we should always strive to be different. Seek to be memorable. Try to be funny. Don’t shy away from vulnerability.
All of these are excellent qualities to pursue in life, both for yourself and for simple signage.