Keep your eyes open and your big mouth shut.

This article with Clint Eastwood and his son in Esquire is one of those times when you read something and you just nod along in agreement. So many great little snippets of wisdom from the man himself about dealing with life. The title of this post is one of the things he said. Initially it was in a humorous reference to his style of acting as Eastwood is well known for omitting lines from a script in favor of a long stare down. But then his son Scott made this comment:

I don’t remember how old I was when you told me this, Dad. But you said, “As an actor, I never went back to my trailer. I always hung out on set and learned.” That stuck with me. I’m on this Fast and the Furious movie right now, and everyone goes back to their trailer. I stick around and say, “Why you are setting up the shot like this?” I want to learn.

Keep your eyes open and your big mouth shut.

This resonates with me because it is exactly what I have always done when I find myself in a new situation where I have a lot to learn. I suppose the best example of this is from my first book when I attempted to blag my way into a job as a rafting guide. Finding myself hideously out of my depth I did the only thing possible to get by – I kept my eyes open and my big mouth shut.

Years later in Italy we had a South African guide who we easily discovered was faking it. But he didn’t keep his big mouth shut nor his eyes open. He attempted to compensate for his own deceit by mouthing off at every opportunity, talking himself up to cover his insecurities. He didn’t last.

I don’t care who you are and what your history is, if you’re coming into my world and you’re here to learn then all I want you to do is to keep your eyes open and your big mouth shut. There is a very famous Australian rock musician who I won’t name who has started playing cricket with our club. At his first training session he made an effort to get to know everyone and he was the first person to run back and retrieve a bowler’s ball that had been hit out of the park. He was there early to help set up the nets and he was one of the last to leave after everything had been put away.

Keep your eyes open and your big mouth shut.

Anyone who talks it up is trying to cover for something, most often a feeling of insecurity at being out of his depth. By keeping your mouth shut you give off the impression that you are well grounded in the situation even if you’re not. And by not blathering you have the added bonus of taking in more information that you’d miss when your mouth is going at a hundred miles an hour.

Even when I had a lot of experience whenever I went to work for a new outfit I’d still keep my eyes open and my big mouth shut. It was my job to fit in with them not the other way around. The only thing worse than a know it all showing up is when he actually does know it all. Just be humble, be one of the guys, and let your skills talk for you. They’ll recognize it, and if they don’t then that tells you that they probably don’t know what they’re doing.

Like I said, that article has a bunch of gems from Eastwood. The sad thing is that the people who would stand to benefit most from his wisdom won’t get it. You only really get what he’s saying if you recognize it and if you recognize it then it means that you already know it. Which is great for getting confirmation of what you’ve learned the hard way but I just know that the millennials who are currently crying into their soy lattes wouldn’t get it if it was smashed over their dumb foreheads. But as Eastwood says about what he calls the ‘pussy generation’, a president Trump might be just the thing to burst them out of their bubble.

That’s if they can keep their eyes open and their big mouths shut.

2 thoughts on “Keep your eyes open and your big mouth shut.

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