The Parallels in Soul, Hamilton, and Me

The Parallels in Soul, Hamilton, and Me

Photo by Glenn Haertlein on Unsplash

When I signed up for Disney+, I was really only doing it for the family. I’d heard The Mandalorian was really good, but other than that, I’m not the world’s biggest Disney fan, so it was mostly for Melissa and Alice. 

(Okay, honestly, there are tons of Disney movies I love, but we already own most them because Melissa hoards DVDs, so that’s the real reason I wasn’t sure Disney+ made sense at first.) 

But then, soon after signing up, it was announced that they would be streaming the original Broadway production of Hamilton. Finally! We’d been dying to watch it for years!  

And the subscription keeps paying off. 

The other night, we finally got around to watching their new movie, Soul. If you haven’t seen it, quick synopsis: A man dies just as his hopeful jazz career might be taking off, and in his attempt to regain his mortality, he meets an unborn soul waiting to find her “spark,” and they both go on a journey to figure out what life means and what their purpose really is. 

It was an excellent and incredibly moving story. Disney certainly continues to impress with increasingly fantastic character development and storytelling. 

After we watched it, Alice and I had a long discussion about what it meant to me and how it related to my own life. Needless to say, much journaling was had after this movie.

It got me to thinking about my wandering goals when I was younger. And it also reminded me a lot about Hamilton. 

We’ve been huge fans of the historical Broadway musical for almost four years now. Actually, Melissa fell in love with it way before that, but for some reason, it took a Colorado road trip for me to take the time to listen to it. Silly me. 

I’ve made up for it though. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I’ve listened to the entire soundtrack, front to back, hundreds of times. Between the amazing lyrics, passionate and insanely impressive performances, and frequent homages to both hip hop and musical origins, it’s pretty much perfect in every way.

I mean, talk about mastery, both in the writing and the performances!

But even after listening to it over and over again and getting to see it live in Dallas, though not with the original cast of course, there were still things I didn’t start to think about until I watched it on Disney+. There were things I started to think about that I hadn’t picked up on before, especially in regards to the characters’ depth and motivations. 

And when I watched Soul, it reminded me of that deeper analysis of Hamilton. 

One of the main ideas of Soul, without giving too much away, is that humans struggle with “seeing the forest for the trees.” We are always looking forward, wanting more, and coming up with bigger or newer goals and dreams. A lot of us struggle with being content with what we already have or who we already are. 

If you know the story of Hamilton, you know he dealt with that in a big way, to the point of burning tons of bridges and hurting himself and others. 

He wanted to go down in history, and he achieved that. But his youthful hubris drove him to expend so much energy on all the things he wanted to do that he wasn’t aware of what was happening around him. The sad part is, he only saw his greatness through the eyes of others, so he never realized how great his accomplishments were or how much he achieved. 

That’s one thing I’m just now starting to learn: greatness should only be a self-assessed goal, not something to receive from others. 

Back when I was still in my mid-20’s, I remember telling Melissa that I wanted to be really great at one thing. Great to the point of achieving accolades and being seen as an expert or master by others. Great enough to teach others and help them achieve their own greatness.

Basically, I wanted other people to tell me how great I was.

At the time, the only two things I could even conceive of being great in were poker and Kung Fu. Back then, I only worked to make money, and I hadn’t yet found anything professional that I was passionate about. Although I enjoyed selling and thought myself to be pretty good at it (because I was too young and inexperienced to realize how little I knew about it), it was still just a means to an end. Bills paid and extra money to spend on fun stuff. 

After I said this to her, Melissa asked if that was a realistic expectation. When she said that, I’m not going to lie, it kind of hurt. I don’t remember exactly how I responded, but I’m sure I was thinking something along the lines of, “Of course it’s realistic, why can’t I be great at one or both of them?!” Now I realize she was actually being really supportive in trying to temper my inflated ego. And she’s proven herself to be continuously and passionately supportive in everything I do before and since then. 

Still hurt to hear that though. 

Obviously, I didn’t become “great” at either of those. And when I realized I wouldn’t, I started to lose that drive towards such a lofty goal. 

But while I stopped looking at it from the lens of “being great enough” to help others, that desire to help never went away completely. 

Now I help people with sales, strategy, marketing, and a range of other business-related things. I’ve written a (soon to be published) book, I have a sales course, and I have a group that I help practice sales conversations with. 

Thanks to the years I spent going from one sales job to another, I’ve amassed tons of experience and knowledge in different areas of selling. Because of my C-personality, I’ve learned how to take deep dives into every interest and hobby I’ve ever had, no matter how fleeting. So I’ve become a bit of an expert at finding analogies to explain difficult concepts and ideas to people to help them understand them more quickly and more thoroughly.

All of my experiences have lead me to be able to coach the way I do, and I’m told that I’ve been very helpful. 

Turns out, I’m exactly the person I wanted to be when I made that statement to Melissa all those years ago, just not in the form that I thought I would. 

And I didn’t realize it until I watched this Disney movie, which lead me to think more about Hamilton, which lead me to see the parallels in my own life and viewpoint. 

See, I never really lost the drive to help others, I just redirected it over the years. But since it was hidden in the murkiness of stress, responsibility, and every day life, I didn’t recognize it for what it was. 

I also had to combat it with the ever-present fear of “do I have anything worth saying?” You know, that voice in the back of almost everybody’s head that tells you you’re not good enough. 

Basically, I went from being a Hamilton to a Burr, just waiting for things to change, waiting until it was safe enough to make my move. 

As a young man, I knew I’d be great at something and nothing would stand in my way. Then, I let a whole bunch of stuff stand in my way, and here we are. Now, I struggle with being enough, and I struggle with just going for it. 

I still have big goals and dreams though, and between those and that voice, I’ve been missing the forest for the trees.

While asking myself if I know enough to help others, I’ve ignored the fact that, despite COVID and a quick drop in monthly revenue, I still spent last year writing a book, creating a course, and coaching others all while maintaining a pipeline, closing deals, paying the bills, and spending time with my family. 

That is an unqualified success. 

So now I have a renewed desire to re-find that inner drive without the entitlement that comes from youth, and I’m going to stop waiting and worrying about being wrong or not having enough to say. 

I need to be somewhere between Hamilton and Burr while also recognizing what I already have before it’s too late, like Soul’s main character, Joe. 

And I have Disney to thank for these recent realizations. Not what I expected when I signed up, but I’m grateful.