Thursday, May 24, 2007

Life Advice From The Bard

Have more than thou showest; Speak less than thou knowest.
- William Shakespeare, 'King Lear,' Act I, Scene iv

In other words, hold some things back, keep some things secret.

In an age when we seek transparency and honesty, not wanting others tohide anything for fear that we can't trust them, this advice fromthe Bard seems counterproductive. But the advice speaks to somecircumstances, not to all.

It particularly involves the depth of knowledge and skill that we revealto others. Shakespeare advises that if we want others to continue torespect us for our skill or our knowledge, we must continue to have moreto reveal than we have in the past or people will treat us as used upmerchandise. In his own case, he could write a new poem or a play for aparticular audience.

The advice doesn't involve secrets, because keeping them can lead totragedy over a long period of time. The only reason for having a secretis so that a person need not face up to the truth at the moment. Keepingsecrets may delay our facing up to them, but the truth seldom remainshidden for a lifetime.

In the 21st century, we have a great advantage over those of the past interms of the depth of our knowledge. With the internet at hand, we cancontinue to accumulate knowledge and dispense our newly acquiredknowledge as it seems appropriate. A world of knowledge is at ourfingertips and that world is growing daily.

Skills are most often learned alone, even when others are present. Thatis, each skill we master results from our own efforts, and only our ownefforts, even if someone else provided guidance. So we can practise askill in private or when and where others are not paying attention, thenshow it off in public later. An Olympic athlete is an example, where theperson trains for endless hours in private (even if in a gym) in orderto show off in public for a few seconds or brief minutes.

Shakespeare's advice does not necessarily mean that we shouldn'tcontinue to show others and help others with what we know and the skillswe have. But if we do, we need to continue whatever process we have usedto acquire new skills and new knowledge so that we have more in reservewhen it is needed.

Fortunately for us, so many people do not learn much new that even smallexamples of our depth of knowledge and skills may impress them.

You received this valuable tip from the same medium that is the greatestsource you could ever find for new information and skill advice.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, striving to give each person some reasons to be proud.
Learn more at

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