5 Lessons I Learned From Hamilton

“Talk less. Smile more.”

Aaron Burr to Alexander Hamilton

I went to see Hamilton last weekend. It was everything I thought it would be and more. The dancing! The singing! The acting! Everything about this musical was as phenomenal as I had imagined and heard from anyone who’s ever seen it.

I’ve been listening to the soundtrack on repeat for two weeks now and I started to realize there are so many lessons within the words of the story that are worth sharing. Here are five lessons I learned from Hamilton.

  1. Talk less. Smile more. This is the advice Aaron Burr gives to Alexander Hamilton in their first meeting. They don’t really sink in for Hamilton, because he talks A LOT. He’s intent on getting people to listen to him and his revolutionary plans. But there’s something to be said for talking less, because it allows you to listen to others. You never know what you’ll learn by observing and listening.  So, talk less and smile more.
  2. Don’t throw away your shot. Everyone has that one opportunity, or shot if you will, to do something remarkable. In Hamilton’s case, he joins the Revolution. He couldn’t pass that up. What opportunities are  you hesitant to go after? That impossible-to-land job? Starting your own business? Moving to another city? Don’t throw away your shot. Go for it!
  3. When in love, you truly are helpless at times. Eliza Schuyler, the daughter of a prominent Army general, falls in love with Alexander at first sight. An entire song is dedicated to how helpless she felt the first time she met him because of his eyes. That was all it took for her to fall for the great Hamilton. So many women have been in her shoes. We operate on feelings. But of course, there’s more to the story. 
  4. Satisfaction – friend or foe? Angelica Schuyler, Eliza’s sister, tells the story of the first time she met Alexander. It seems Angelica and Alexander are two people who are never satisfied. I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing, because if you’re never satisfied, it means you’re never settling. But if you’re never satisfied, does that mean you’re never really happy? That’s a tough one. Angelica’s wedding toast to her sister and Alexander includes the words “May you always be satisfied.” Spoiler alert-he never is.
  5. Wait for it. Aaron Burr has an entire song where he’s pondering why he’s lived when so many others he’s loved have died. “But if there’s a reason I’m still alive, then I’m willing to wait for it,” he says. We may not understand why things happen the way they do, but there’s a reason for it. Wait for it.

I walked away from the performance with a sense of awe. The central issues of Hamilton’s world are much of the same issues we face today. We want to make a difference. We long for honest and true love. We don’t want to settle. We question why things happen. We make mistakes. Simply put: we’re human. It’s a nice reminder that even though centuries have passed, most of us want the same things that Hamilton and the rest of our founding fathers built this great country on: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

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