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5 Lessons We Can Learn from the Life of Alexander Hamilton

Like most of the universe, I am obsessed with the musical Hamilton. In fact, I have definitely been caught pulling into our office parking lot at 8 a.m. aggressively rapping along to the soundtrack in a French accent (knowing all the words to “Guns and Ships” may or may not be one of my greatest accomplishments in life).

In case you’ve been living under a rock, Broadway trailblazer Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose first musical In The Heights is also a masterpiece, is the genius behind the show that details the life of “the 10 dollar founding father without a father,” Alexander Hamilton.

Thanks to Miranda’s seamless fusion of hip-hop and musical theater and his unparalleled talent for storytelling, the man who was previously one of the least famous founding fathers is now a household name, and a new generation of Americans are more interested than ever in our country’s origins.

The biggest takeaway from Hamilton the musical is that the life of Alexander Hamilton was extraordinary. The story is more than just a celebration of our country’s history: it’s a celebration of the life of an immigrant who fought his way to the top and whose legacy is sewn into the fabrics of America forever.

Needless to say, there are countless life lessons we can learn from this powerful piece of musical theater – here are a few of my favorites.

  1. “I am not throwing away my shot.” This line is repeated several times throughout the show, and embodies so much about Hamilton’s approach to life. He was given an opportunity to escape the life of poverty he was born into in the Caribbean, and he seized it, and he continued to take advantage of every opportunity that followed. The dude was basically a walking billboard for “Carpe Diem.” We should all live our lives by the same philosophy and not miss any of the opportunities life hands us because after all, who knows what can happen if you take a chance? It worked for Hamilton.
  2. “There’s a million things I haven’t done, but just you wait.” Hamilton also was incredibly confident and knew his own potential. He didn’t let the fact that he didn’t have the legacy or family money that some of his political enemies had; he had brains, tenacity and ambition, and he knew that was enough to take him places. When trying to turn your dreams into a reality, it’s important to recognize your worth and be your biggest fan. If you don’t believe in yourself, who will?
  3. “Even though we started at the very same time, Alexander Hamilton began to climb. How to account for his rise to the top? Man, the man is non-stop.” This is a line spoken by Aaron Burr, Hamilton’s political on-and-off-again frenemy and eventually his murderer (it’s not a spoiler if it happened in 1804, y’all). Hamilton was one of the hardest-working men in politics, which is how he was able to work his way up from a 17-year-old immigrant to the first United State Treasury of State and the right-hand man of George Washington. When you’re working your way up and trying to prove yourself, you’ve gotta be non-stop. Everyone has to start somewhere.
  4. “And when my prayers to God were met with indifference, I picked up a pen, I wrote my own deliverance.” Hamilton literally wrote himself out of his circumstances, which is what made Lin-Manuel Miranda realize the connection to his life and that of many hip-hop artists. After a hurricane destroyed the island he lived on, he wrote an essay that was published in the local paper and was so powerful and inspiring, wealthy businessmen in his community shipped him off to New York City to get an education at Kings College (aka Columbia today). What we can learn from this is that if you’re not happy with your circumstances, you have the power to fix it. Don’t wait for a third party to come in and fix your life or help you attain your goals. Go after what you want and don’t stop until you get it.
  5. “How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman dropped in a middle of a forgotten spot in the Caribbean by providence, impoverished in squalor, grow up to be a hero and a scholar?” It makes sense to close out this blog post with arguably the most famous and opening line from the show. Really, these lyrics sum up all of what the show is about and the point I’m trying to make in this blog. It doesn’t matter where you came from or where you’ve started from – if you have the talent and the ambition to achieve your goals, don’t hold yourself back. Lin-Manuel Miranda himself has told his own father’s story countless times, who was an immigrant from Puerto Rico that came to this country without knowing a word of English and went on to have a successful career in politics. Hamilton may very well have been one of the first people to achieve the American dream, and it’s obvious that concept is still alive and well today.

PS – if you’re ever feeling uninspired, always remember that you have the same amount of hours in a day as Lin-Manuel Miranda.