Hamilton Fever...a message for the overwhelmed heart
To the woman whose heart is shattering and overwhelmed with the pain, confusion, and trouble she sees in the world. Don’t run from the overwhelm. Look it in the eye. Disarm it. Contribute to the solution.
Along with millions of others, I had the opportunity to see the work of art that is Hamilton on its recent Disney+ debut. My heart soared as I watched the story of Alexander Hamilton and a group of men and women, albeit very flawed, work toward creating a better future for themselves and our nation. As women who have immense power to create change through our careers, we can draw so much inspiration from Hamilton.
Not throwing away my shot
Alexander Hamilton, who immigrated to New York after surviving many tragic losses, sings about “not throwing away his shot”. His difficult experiences instilled a duty in him to meaningfully contribute to those around him. I strongly identified with this as I thought back to the tragic losses of my 10-year-old cousin, Miranda and my dear friend, Monica. I have wept bitter tears and clenched my fists as I swallowed the difficult pill which made apparent that some questions do not have answers.
A few weeks after these losses, I found myself brokenheartedly out for a stroll, sun beaming on my face almost beckoning me to dream and hope again. Suddenly, I had a strong moment of clarity that years in therapy, while helpful, could never have provided. I thought to myself, “if it is unbelievably sad and heart shattering that a life is cut short, then shouldn’t the number of days added to our lives evoke joyous emotion? If it’s tragic to lose days, then shouldn’t it be equally exhilarating to live them?” I immediately called my mom and said, “If something ever happens to me, don’t cry for me. I have lived and am living my life every day.” I promised myself that my life would be marked by making time for joy, taking risk, speaking out against injustice, and working at my career with great passion and excellence. We honor those who have gone before us and our Creator when, like Hamilton, we don’t throw away our shot. Will you join me in making this commitment? To live a life full of purpose and joy?
Look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now!
What do we do with the time we have? Do we curse it for being challenging or do we embrace it? In 2017, I was leading a team of recent college graduates when the “Me Too” movement came to the forefront. The young women I was managing asked me for advice as they processed the headlines on sexual assault and harassment. I wasn’t quite sure what to say. Being an optimistic and hopeful person, the best way I could synthesize what we were witnessing was very similar to what the Schuyler Sisters sing in Hamilton, “How lucky we are to be alive right now.” While it is deplorable that these events occurred (and continue to occur), the fact that they were being discussed, meant that we were hopefully witnessing a marked moment in the fight for equity and justice.
I feel similarly when it comes to the current discussion being had on racism in the US and globally. I experience a lot of anguish and pain witnessing the oppression faced by people of color, especially our Black community. For all the contrasting political stances, proposed solutions, and arguments, one thing is clear to me: we are smart leaders who have faced and solved complex problems before. We are not blind to the issues the Black community faces and we are not helpless in fixing them. If you feel overwhelmed by the staggering amount of issues in our society, could you shift your perspective to see this as an opportunity to contribute to a solution? Maybe you were born into this season for that exact reason. How lucky!
Why do you write like your running out of time, like tomorrow won’t arrive?
I get lots of coaching requests from women asking how they can make a difference. They want to help with huge problems in society like human trafficking, racism, and women’s representation, but they don’t know where to start. I think Hamilton had the right frame of mind; we are running out of time. I don’t say this to make you fearful or scared, but rather to empower you to act, now. Sometimes we don’t start because we want to be perfect. If Hamilton highlights anything, it’s that often you won’t get it right. But if you don’t attempt a solution, you are actively choosing to accept the current, broken situation. Don’t believe the lie that you don’t have power. Start right where you are. If you care about racism, for example, what programs can you champion in your company or what topics could you discuss over a lunch and learn? Once you get started, you’ll learn more as you go, and you’ll surprise yourself with how many people share the same sentiment and will be happy to support you. Leaders know that time is not infinite, and they move with purpose.
I could have written about the whole soundtrack, and perhaps I will someday, but for now, I hope you are inspired to act. I encourage you to take some quiet time away from the noise and process all that you have been witnessing. Think about the most authentic way you can show up and shoot your shot on whichever issue you are most passionate about! I’ll be rooting you on to the beat of Hamilton.
PS. What is your favorite Hamilton song and how did it speak to you?! Share in the comments below.