Talk less - smile more

I'm not usually one for listening to soundtracks, this side of The Exorcist and The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle. But it is inspiring listening to the soundtrack to the all-conquering Broadway musical Hamilton (I haven't seen it yet, but my daughter Holly and lots of my friends have, all giving rave reviews). 

One line stuck out to me, which has already been interpreted in many different ways. In Aaron Burr, Sir, Aaron Burr gives Hamilton some advice, which is well worth remembering. "Talk less - smile more." If everyone did this the world would be a happier place.

Stopping to really listen, pay attention to your companion, and truly hear what they are saying, is all too rare. Often we are too quick to step in and talk over them, especially in the business world. When you take a step back, smile, and listen, it can be really rewarding. It will also often end up in a more meaningful connection, which will in turn lead to more smiles.

However, when the next line is added, a whole new viewpoint comes into play. As Alexandra Petri points out in the Washington Post, Aaron Burr urges caution to Hamilton because he believes he should be worrying about the image he is portraying. "Don't let them know what you're against and what you're for," he tells him.

He's gone from great advice to terrible advice in one verse. It's one thing keeping your cards close to your chest, but you have to stand up for what you believe in. 

Interestingly Hamilton heeds Burr's better advice and starts to listen to others. However he draws the line at not standing up for what he believes in. Later in life he actually votes against Burr's bid for the Presidency (and backs Thomas Jefferson) because he says he does not know what Burr stands for.

Whether it is in politics, business or your personal life, people will respect you for having a point of view and stating it.

When you get an opportunity, you've got to go for it wholeheartedly, not wait in the wings for some imaginary perfect time to materialise. You've got the seize the moment.

Then, regardless of whether you fail or succeed, go back to the first bit of advice, and smile! 


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