Lessons on Professional Success from Aaron Burr (Sort of…)
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Leslie Odom, Jr.’s book is a brief work full of interesting advice for creative people. But, who is Leslie Odom, Jr., and why should you care about his opinion?
If you own the original Broadway cast recording of Hamilton, you will know his voice. He is the actor who plays Aaron Burr, the guy who wants to be “in the room where it happens.” It is interesting to read his book, Failing Up, and to learn that he almost left acting before this role-of-a-lifetime became his. As he tells the story, after years of semi-success in the business he conferred with a trusted advisor, Stuart K. Robinson (his father-in-law), about quitting. Robinson told him, “I’d love to see you try before you quit.” This seemed like a punch in the gut until Robinson defined terms. Odom Jr. was great about responding to calls when they came in, but what did he do to foster calls coming in? Did he send any emails? Call anyone? Did he do anything other than wait? Taking this advice to heart, Odom Jr. went on to achieve his spectacular success and of course, he recommends this methodology to the reader.
Additionally, he encourages us to take risks and has an interesting opinion on his professional training in regard to risk-taking. He wishes it had encouraged risk-taking to give him practice with it. He wishes his training had provided more room for failure. And he wishes it included a focus on AUDACITY. He sums it up by saying, “The path to moments of greatness in your life will be paved, in part, with your spectacular failures.”
Here are a few more quotes from the author:
- The biggest break is the one you will give yourself by choosing to believe in your vision…and in the gifts you have to offer the waiting world.
- It [is] much more about what you [do] with what you [are] given than about what you [are] given.
- To be at your best, you need a full-bodied investment from your “pinky toes to hair follicles.”
For even more wise words from Leslie Odom, Jr., I encourage you to read the book. Here’s the full title: Failing Up — How to Take Risks, Aim Higher, and Never Stop Learning.
As for me, my main takeaway is the word he uses: AUDACITY. It is defined as bold courage or daring. As I plan to try audacity in my professional life, let’s see if it gets me in the room where it happens…
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