"Hamilton" star Leslie Odom Jr. on "Failing Up" and the people who changed his life

Leslie Odom Jr. on the importance of failure

While Leslie Odom Jr. is best known for his Tony and Grammy Award-winning turn as Aaron Burr in the hit Broadway musical "Hamilton," it's the power of failure, not success, which he explores in his new book. In "Failing Up: How to Take Risks, Aim Higher, and Never Stop Learning" Odom shares personal stories and life lessons to help people follow their dreams.

"There's a whole lot of focus on the tremendous success that me and my cast mates have had because of the embrace of the show. But the truth is, there's a whole lot of roots under that tree. There's a whole lot of hard work and failure along the way. So I wanted to point to that because that's what got us there," Odom told "CBS This Morning" Tuesday.

The actor, who's also appeared on screen in "Smash," "House of Lies," and in the movie "Murder on the Orient Express," said his fifth grade social studies teacher changed his life.

"She kind of reframed my idea of who I was. Mrs. Turner was the first one that encouraged me to write. I, in a way, dedicate this book to her – to all my teachers because there was a mentorship and a sowing that I was doing in the community, you know, in with college kids and high school kids and stuff that she got started for me," he said. "You can be radicalized by a great teacher. They can turn you into a teacher, they turn you into a mentor, because you want to pass on those lessons that they gave you."  

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Another turning point in his life came when Odom's father-in-law told him that he wanted to see him try before he quit acting. To that, a surprised Odom said, "What do you think I've been doing?"

"He said, 'Well, when the phone rings I think you show up and you're prepared, you do a great job, you're an affable guy. If the phone didn't ring today, what did you do for yourself? Did you read anything? Did you write anything? Did you call anyone? Did you send an e-mail?'" Odom recalled. 

He said that moment not only got him "off the couch," it changed his life.

What's the best lesson he's learned from failure?

"The best lesson that I learned from failure is that that's really where the learning happens."