Prolific and Pensive
Humility trumps ego
“The chief proof of man’s real greatness lies in his perception of his own smallness.” — Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Last year, I finally saw the musical Hamilton, and like half of America, I just watched it on Disney+. I also read the biography Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. It’s a hefty tome (818 pages!), which is up there with Chernow’s other biographies of Rockefeller (832 pages), Washington (928 pages) and Grant (1104 pages).
It got me to thinking about proflicacy. (There’s a word for you!)
Chernow marveled at Hamilton’s prodigious output, calling him “an exuberant genius who performed at a fiendish pace and must have produced the maximum number of words that a human being can scratch out in forty-nine years.”
He was a genius. But also flawed. His brilliance was the type that made him impatient, and he must have known his time on Earth was limited, as he ran roughshod over all who didn’t agree with him.
Ultimately (and I’m over-simplifying here; this is a newsletter, not a Chernow-length opus), it led to his duel with Aaron Burr and his resulting death on July 12, 1804.
“I will begin to speak when I have that to say which had not better be unsaid.” — Cato the Younger
It’s taken me a few years and some hard lessons, but I’ve learned that even when you’re the smartest person in the room on a subject, humility will get you much farther than ego. There’s nothing wrong with sharing your knowledge about a topic; but bringing others along and acknowledging their contributions is equally as important.
May your ego and proflicacy move in opposite directions.