Martin’s Very Big Day

Posted by on August 21, 2013

A Monday Morning Memo for the Clients and Friends of Williams Marketing

His name was Martin, and in the early 1500’s he wrote a thing that changed our world forever. As Martin dipped pen in ink that momentous day, he could not possibly have known the degree to which he was redefining our future. No, Martin innocently put pen to paper and forever changed our world, never once suspecting the full magnitude of what he was doing.

If you assume that I’m referring to the day in 1517 when a man named Martin Luther ignited the flames of the Protestant reformation, well, you’re wrong. The Martin of whom I write was very near the end of his life on the day that Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church. The Martin of whom I speak had done his scribbling exactly 10 years, 6 months and 6 days earlier. It was on April 25, 1507, that Martin WaldseemŸller scribbled the word “America” on the map of a continent that had previously had no name. Martin, you see, was a mapmaker.

Martin’s Universalis Cosmographia was the first map to show the New World as being comprised of two continents joined by a narrow strait. The southern landmass, previously known as “The Western Indies,” Martin designated “America.” In Cosmographiae Introductio, the book that accompanied the map, Martin explained that he had named the New World after Amerigo Vespucci, the man that he believed had discovered it. Nine years later, Martin acknowledged Columbus as the true discoverer and immediately dropped the name “America” from his maps. But by then it was too late. America was here to stay.

Martin’s decision in 1507, however, was of far less impact than many of the decisions you and I make each day. Martin’s decision affected only the name of a country, a word on a map. Our decisions affect the lives of human beings. We choose to encourage someone and in so doing, help shape their future success. We repeat a gossip and in so doing, create a breach that may never be healed. We contribute our time or money and in so doing, make the world just a little bit better.

Today we will choose whether to frown or to smile. We will choose whether to hide love or show it. We will, by our choices, encourage or discourage the people around us. And each of these choices will have a far greater impact on the future of our world than did the meaningless markings of a mistaken mapmaker named Martin.

What kind of future will you choose?

Roy H. Williams


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