Human Interest

Hamilton Opened My Ears and My Eyes

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True confession: During Independence Day week I drove from Michigan to Maryland to spend quality time with my family. On the way back, I had the privilege of driving back with my oldest daughter Jayonne. We don’t get to have too much one on one quality time like we used to. She loves singing as much as I do. So, as our family tradition is, we jammed to our favorite music for the full nine hours. At one point she asked if I wanted to hear the sound track from Hamilton. Of course, I reassured her that I really didn’t know too much about it. Although my family have been big fans of it and play documentaries and various Hamilton performances quite often. I never really paid too much attention to it. I was always distracted and not able to really focus on it, based on my understanding of American History. I just didn’t have much interest in the Alexander Hamilton. Well, I have learned to listen to my children more than I normally would, because, as adults they have really enlightened me on many things. So, I agreed to listen. She assured me that I would appreciate it. Honestly, I didn’t expect to listen to the entire project. I figured I would get frustrated or bored and demand something new. To my surprise, I listened to the entire soundtrack. I was very much impressed with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s genius. He was able to tell the story of Alexander Hamilton using Hip-Hop music and RAP with an unbelievable degree of academic and artistic skill. His insight was masterful. Now I want to know more about it.

I’m looking forward to taking my wife to see the live performance. My wife has been trying to convince me to go see it ever since it was released. The problem I was having is that I prejudged the musical based on a bad set of assumptions. Although it was right in front of me, on many occasions and in many ways, I couldn’t appreciate it. The eyes of my mind were closed even though I was looking. Well, I was half looking. As I was meditating this morning this scenario came to my mind and the lessons learned soon followed. I’ll share a couple with you.

  1. Sometimes you need to change the way you are presenting something you want to share. Although my wife and daughters had been trying to share this awesome presentation with me, I was not in the right frame of mind to receive it visually. You see, I’m not necessarily a fan of musicals. In fact, I really don’t like musicals. I love to attend plays and theatrical performances. I also love to attend concerts. Rarely, almost never do I want to experience both at the same time. By listening to the soundtrack without the visuals, I was able to really hear the message of the music. I wonder how often we miss out on getting our point across, because we are so committed to our original approach until we can’t communicate effectively. I thought about the fact that we have five senses. Then I began to wonder how much more effective we could be if we practiced appealing to a variety of the senses and not just our favorite or the one we are most comfortable with. By isolating my experience to hearing only, I was able to see the beauty of the performance.

  2. Sometimes your vision improves in direct proportion to your willingness to listen.
    It was indeed a beautiful thing to listen to the Hamilton soundtrack. The way the story was told gave me an opportunity to create a picture in my mind that I could relate to. The more I listened, the more vivid the picture became in my mind. I began to put faces on the characters. I could see the various locations where the action and interactions were occurring. I could feel myself grasping the energy of the story in a way that was far more interesting than reading about it in school had ever been. As I focused my energy on really hearing what was being said, I could better see the connections between characters. Also, conversations that were happening between different parties within the story made more sense. My understanding was increasing, because I was able to connect my own imagination into the story as I connected this new information to the knowledge I already possessed.

 

 

Really my point has nothing to do with Hamilton. Although, I enjoyed it and will check it out in more detail in the future. The thing that makes this experience significant for me is the life application that I have been able to draw from it. Communication is a critical skill that must be mastered if one desires to have successful relationships and accomplish important things with people. There is more to communication than simply talking, or writing. Listening is an active and critical part of the communication process. Every part of the communication process is important and valuable. Resist the temptation to lean heavily on your favorite part only. When I say favorite, I’m eluding to our temperament. Most of us lean toward being either an introvert or an extrovert. From years of studying the work of Issabel Briggs-Meyers and her daughter Katherine Briggs, I have come to understand more than a few things about temperament and how it impacts our communication styles. Simply put, introverts will find it easier to listen and harder to talk, while extroverts, like me, find it easier to talk and more challenging to listen. It is not a matter of right or wrong, nor ability or lack thereof. It is simply, preference. What comes naturally. Introverts process things on the inside and then choose what they will share on the outside. Extroverts feed off the environment around them and often don’t really know what they think until they start talking it out. The good news is we can all develop our skills in both areas.

By using various approaches to communicate, you help the person receiving your message. This is true in every area of life, spiritually, financially, socially, educationally and emotionally. For example, good teachers know how to differentiate their instruction to capture the minds and attention of each type of learner. Some students need to touch something, some need pictures, some need to quietly read and some vibe off a great story. The most successful teachers build their lessons to hit on all areas of learning. Which means, they must stretch themselves beyond their own comfort zone. An introverted teacher, must, at times become comfortable with being a lecturer or engaging in spontaneous dialog with their extroverted students. A rich spiritual process includes lecture, reading, dialog and hands on experiences. It was St. Francis of Assisi who said, “One should preach often, using words, if necessary.”

The moral of the story is when you have something important to communicate, figure out which approach is necessary to cause you to be effective. My daughter was very wise in seizing the opportunity to get me to just listen to the Hamilton soundtrack while I was in a situation where I would not be easily distracted. She could have given up by thinking “I’ve tried to show this man how good this performance is, he just doesn’t get it.” That would have been a wasted opportunity. Sometimes people are rejecting your message, because your method of delivery doesn’t fit their needs. So, don’t be discouraged when people don’t receive your message right away. Try re- packaging your approach. Do it with them in mind. One of the key commandments we learn in scripture is “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you.” In other words, treat people the way you would want to be treated. Each of us would prefer a message delivered to us the way we like it. Be selfless enough to change your approach for the sake of the message. If your message is not valuable enough for you to change your approach when needed, then perhaps that message is not very important after all. For example, if you are attempting to share your faith with someone and they seem to be not interested, don’t feel rejected. Don’t automatically assume they are not interested. Perhaps, your approach is not the most effective way to reach them. If you believe your message is powerful and valuable make the effort change your approach. My daughter did. Look at me now. I’m telling almost a million people about it with this article. Who knows how far your message could go if you were willing to switch it up, just a little bit.

I am a speaker, trainer and consultant. *KEYNOTE ADDRESS: Inspiring the Audience to embrace their charge. *WORKSHOP TRAINING: Effectively enhancing the skills of your staff. *CONSULTING SERVICES: Coaching and facilitating your planning and management efforts.

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