Entrepreneurship August 06, 2021

What an Audition and 'Hamilton, The Musical' Taught Me About Courage

It was MY AUDITION and I wasn't throwing away MY SHOT...

Today I had an audition for a Broadway-style concert with the Draper Philharmonic in Utah. Because I had not done anything crazy in my life for a while, I decided to audition with a piece from Hamilton, The Musical , a show that find incredibly moving and inspiring, and yet I haven’t seen it live (#hamiltoncast or #LinManuel, if you guys are reading this, please, help a brother). Hamilton’s style, technique , vibe and feel are not only supercool and spectacular, but also different from anything I've done in the past, which was quite intimidating. In either case, I needed a challenge in my life and I took it. I prepared, memorized and rehearsed over and over the song “One Last Time”, a moving number in which George Washington announces Alexander Hamilton his retirement from political life . It took not only a desire for something new in my life, it also took courage to stick to preparing for it. But most importantly, I went to the audition despite the fear I was experiencing. In other words, I showed up, which is a leadership lesson I adopted early in professional life.

I went into the room, introduced myself and one of the judges told me that many people had avoided the Hamilton songs for that concert (quite comforting, right?). But I was already there and there was no turning point. The judges turned on the camera, my pianist started the notes of the song, and I got into role immediately. I tried to portray George Washington as cool and confident as Christopher Jackson while still giving it my own flavor. I acted the song, gave dramatic accents, dramatic pauses, and in the end I went for the send off (the big finale) feeling I needed to swing for the fences. And so I did.

I belted the final notes to the neon lamp in the ceiling and the corner of the room so loudly I could feel the sound coming back to my ears and face like a wave. I was breathing heavily. I went for it and had given it all. After all, it was MY AUDITION and I wasn't throwing away MY SHOT (pun intended).

I lowered my sight to see my judges with a polite smile in their faces. They said almost in unison: "Thank you very much", and that was it. I went out of the room and saw the receptionist (who could hear me from the lobby) with the same smile and the same phrase. Then, after my pianist congratulated me and I got in my car with the feeling that I had either nailed my audition or botched in the worst possible way, with the worst send off in the history of Broadway. By the way, that feeling hasn’t left yet, it probably won’t leave until they tell me about the result of the audition. But, after all, I have the satisfaction of having memorized and practiced and performed one of the most majestic, inspiring and difficult songs I had ever heard. Thanks, Lin-Manuel Miranda for creating such a wonderful piece of art.

If you’ve ever felt like you’ve given it all and despite the outcome, you feel satisfaction about your work, feel free to comment (and while you’re at it, tell me how you shook off the freaking uncertainty that I still have).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: As a consultant, Gonzalo A. Peña has helped US Translation Company implement several projects. He’s had the privilege of working with prominent organizations like the United Nations, Standard and Poor's, and The U.S. Department of Justice.

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