Teddy Roosevelt wanted to hunt Rocky Mountain goats, a prize trophy in the 1880’s. He needed a hunting guide. He learned that Jack Willis, famed hunter in Montana, might be available. T.R. wrote to him from Medora, North Dakota.
Willis disdained Medora, the dream-town of an Easterner with his own fortune and a deep-pockets father-in-law. He had no interest in Roosevelt’s query, but did take an immediate dislike of his penmanship. He called it the worst he had ever seen, “bar none.”
His short answer to T.R. seethed with disregard for his handwriting. If Roosevelt couldn’t shoot any better than he could write, Willis had no interest in being a guide. Undeterred, T.R. took the rebuke in good humor and sent a telegram detailing his arrival time in Thompson Falls, Montana. The killer promise of course was MONEY. T.R. would pay him well. Theodore Roosevelt in the Badlands, 221.
First impressions are always interesting, if not always definitive. While we never get a chance to make a second first impression, dislike or insults or anger or love need not be final. T.R. could have been irreparably offended by the critique of his writing. People have been offended at less. Admitting that the criticism had merit, he continued his pursuit. That’s what first impressions can teach us: however good or bad they may be, give second impressions a chance.