How to account for Alexander’s rise to the top? It’s more than just being nonstop

With altMBA classmates from 6 countries coworking online on a Friday night

altMBA24 ends this Friday. This post is originally published in our #gratitude channel.


I’m in the Philippines and I work London hours. So I am part of the London cohort. That means Learning Group meetings are 1am to 4am my time. Sometimes I am tempted to feel resentful. I am doing this random thing that I don’t have to, at a time when most people are in bed. Should be in bed. I am so tired. Why do I have to do this?

Do you feel the same?

Whenever I ruminate this, I remember Hamilton. Specifically, the song Nonstop.

One stanza goes like this:

[HAMILTON]
Gentlemen of the jury, I’m curious, bear with me
Are you aware that we’re making history?
This is the first murder trial of our brand-new nation
The liberty behind the liberation
I intend to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt
With my assistant counsel—

[BURR]
Co-counsel Hamilton, sit down
Our client Levi Weeks is innocent.
Call your first witness
That’s all you had to say!

Burr is the lawyer Hamilton worked next door with. They started at the same time, and according to the song, Burr was the better lawyer. Very quickly, however, Alexander rose to the top. Fast forward to 2015, 211 years after his death, Hamilton gets a hit Broadway musical played about his life.

Burr? He gets to sing, “I’m the damn fool that shot him.” I didn’t even know he was the third US Vice President.

So, how to account for Alexander’s rise to the top? Was it because he was nonstop? Sure. But the more interesting question is, why was he nonstop? How could he have stood to work nonstop?

Recognizing opportunity

There’s a telling lyrics where Alexander goes on and on and on about how he was going to defend his client. Prove he’s not guilty. The other lawyers basically said, shut up already. We know he’s innocent. Just call your first witness. Let’s get this over with.

Sometimes I feel like we are Alexander. Going on and on about the resistance and fear and shipping. Why can’t we just do the thing and get on with our lives already?

But of course Alexander couldn’t. Yes, because he talks too much… But why did he talk so much? I think it’s because he was excited.

And grateful.

While everyone else thought of the process they had to go through as just work… Alexander was excited and grateful. He gets to defend his client? Wow. Just one year ago, someone could have accused Weeks of guilt and shot him. Now that they have democracy, they have due process.

It’s easy to acclimatize to better things — better opportunities, more money. The internet. Getting to connect with anyone across the sea, instantly.

That’s fucking amazing. Don’t you think so?

Recognize the opportunity. Be grateful. Work hard. You don’t have to do this.

But you get to.

As the song goes, Look around, look around, at how lucky we are to be alive right now.

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