Doing something that has never been done before – the act of a pioneer

My sister recently organised a school event for International Women’s Day – she got a few friends on board, contacted a distinguished guest speaker and sent out a newsletter. The event was a success. She noted how her teachers gave her and co-organisers particular praise for doing something that has never been done before. This was pioneering work.

There are multiple definitions for pioneer, however it comes down to being the first to explore, develop or establish something new.

As I pondered on this definition, I thought about Lin-Manuel Miranda and his journey to creating the billion-dollar Broadway show we all know as Hamilton. Back in 2009, when he first performed at the White House, he received laughs from the audience as he explained the concept of the musical. To newly acquainted ears, it sounded odd to hear “hip-hop” and one of America’s founding fathers – Alexander Hamilton in the same sentence. Fast forward to 2016, he returns to the White House to perform, but by this point the musical had acquired multiple academy awards and countless sold-out shows. The concept didn’t seem so crazy anymore.

Lin-Manuel Miranda performs “Alexander Hamilton” at White House Poetry Jam in 2009

Lin-Manuel discerned the universal traits in an otherwise distant history and gave it new life in the form of yes, a hip-hop musical. This pioneering act revealed three lessons I believe are worth sharing.

1. It is not always glamorous to be the first to do something

A pioneer always seems crazy until the idea proves successful, and this has been happening since the beginning of time. I often think about Noah and how he built a (450 feet long) ark for something that had never happened before – a flood. I imagine he was ridiculed and majorly misunderstood but he obeyed the demand that was placed on his heart by God, and the flood eventually came. Similarly, although Lin-Manuel appears unfazed, the audience’s laughs signified that they did not fully understand the vision. It seemed out of place until he executed the idea.

2. All ideas need refining, no matter how great it is

After Lin-Manuel’s 2009 performance, it was not until 2015 that he released the album. This means that he spent a good 6 years refining the idea and collaborating with other talented people to produce the excellent body of work we listen to today. Similarly, Noah spent many years (the exact years are unknown), skilfully building the ark which required specific measurements and materials as instructed by God.

3. Your idea may be pioneering but it may not be for everyone

As pioneering as Hamilton is, not everyone is a fan (although this is hard to believe!). But the lack of a general consensus doesn’t invalidate its pioneering nature. Similarly, with Noah, not everyone got on the boat, but the flood surely came and it benefited the few who believed in the vision.

Hamilton cast performs “Alexander Hamilton” at White House in 2016

Further reading

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: