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 to
hide anything for fear that we can’t trust them, this advice from
the Bard seems counterproductive. But the advice speaks to some
circumstances, not to all.
It particularly involves the depth of knowledge and skill that we reveal
to others. Shakespeare advises that if we want others to continue to
respect us for our skill or our knowledge, we must continue to have more
to reveal than we have in the past or people will treat us as used up
merchandise. In his own case, he could write a new poem or a play for a
The advice doesn’t involve secrets, because keeping them can lead to
tragedy over a long period of time. The only reason for having a secret
is so that a person need not face up to the truth at the moment. Keeping
secrets may delay our facing up to them, but the truth seldom remains
hidden for a lifetime.
In the 21st century, we have a great advantage over those of the past in
terms of the depth of our knowledge. With the internet at hand, we can
continue to accumulate knowledge and dispense our newly acquired
knowledge as it seems appropriate. A world of knowledge is at our
fingertips and that world is growing daily.
Skills are most often learned alone, even when others are present. That
is, each skill we master results from our own efforts, and only our own
efforts, even if someone else provided guidance. So we can practise a
skill in private or when and where others are not paying attention, then
show it off in public later. An Olympic athlete is an example, where the
person trains for endless hours in private (even if in a gym) in order
to show off in public for a few seconds or brief minutes.
Shakespeare’s advice does not necessarily mean that we shouldn’t
continue to show others and help others with what we know and the skills
we have. But if we do, we need to continue whatever process we have used
to acquire new skills and new knowledge so that we have more in reserve
when it is needed.
Fortunately for us, so many people do not learn much new that even small
examples of our depth of knowledge and skills may impress them.
You received this valuable tip from the same medium that is the greatest
source you could ever find for new information and skill advice.
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 http://billallin.com