I was fortunate to see the musical Hamilton over the weekend. I had read part of the biography by Ron Chernow that inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda to create the play, but that only covered the material from the first act of the show. There were several lessons I took from Hamilton’s life:
Note: I allude to some parts of the plot, so if you would rather be kept in the dark until you get to see the musical, I suggest waiting to read further.
Hamilton was a learning and writing machine. His work rate was extraordinary. It goes to show that if any of us want to be more productive with the time we have for work, all we need to do is search for better methods.
Remember to take a break. Because of his difficult upbringing and lack of reputation when he first moved to the US, Hamilton was consumed with getting to the forefront of any field he pursued (military command, law, finance, politics). The drawback of this one-track mindset is you can forget about the other people in your life that matter most. Keep a little balance.
Recognize if you are someone that wants to be in the ‘room where it happens.’ Hamilton’s rival Aaron Burr realized midway through his political career that he wanted a larger leadership role than his current path would make available to him. This altered his approach going forward. A person does not have to target the highest leadership role in their office or community, but if you want to be a key decision-maker, it helps to know that early because it will require more work and a specific track to have a chance to get there.
This tale is another example of the negative consequences that can befall a person that is obsessed with their legacy. Hamilton indirectly ruined his home life because his focus was on clearing his name from a career perspective. And Aaron Burr became obsessed with getting revenge against Hamilton after Hamilton recommended Thomas Jefferson to be President instead of Burr. Instead of viewing the event as a temporary setback, Burr lost his emotional cool, leading to the duel where he kills Hamilton.
A person can find a greater purpose at any point in their lives. Hamilton’s wife Eliza preferred to stay in the background while Alexander was climbing up the political ladder, but after his death, she sprung into action to ensure the US populace would appreciate all that he had done for their new country. Her activist lifestyle also led to her opening the first private orphanage in the state of New York.