Two weeks ago, the planets aligned and I finally had the chance to see Hamilton myself. After three years of devotedly listening to the soundtrack, it somehow managed to live up to all the hype and was just as revolutionary (pun intended) as I had hoped it would be. And this time, I was struck by a different element of Hamilton’s and Burr’s experiences.
The historic moment that these men occupied was extraordinary, and the decisions that they got to participate in have consequences that still reverberate within our society today. But I was continually impressed by how these men demonstrated exactly the kind of professional flexibility that I encourage in this series.
Hamilton trained as a lawyer, but jumped at the opportunity to be a junior delegate to the Constitutional Convention where he advocated for a strong central government. He later accepted the chance to become the first Secretary of the Treasury and fought to implement the financial framework that we still use today.
Burr, likewise, studied law and entered politics when he was appointed New York State Attorney General. He leveraged his experience as Attorney General into a successful run for Senate where he served for six years. He also ran for president twice, and served as Vice President to Thomas Jefferson for four years.
These men were living in a time of upheaval, which enabled them to have an enormous impact on their country and on the course of history. In some ways, we are living in a similar moment of transformation with the advent of new technology that changes our lives on an almost yearly basis. I’ve talked a lot about how many of the people I’ve interviewed are doing jobs that didn’t exist five years ago, how the rapid evolution of work and industries means that we are constantly developing new professional skills. And this evolution requires flexibility and a strong tolerance for ambiguity.
I try to hold this in my mind as well, that this work that I love may not be around for me to do for another four decades. Initially, that makes me sad and a little scared, but I also feel exhilarated, because that means I’ll get the chance to do something else, something I can’t even imagine right now. And like Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and the other men and women who lived during that revolutionary moment and left their mark, I want to be open to and excited for it.