Why is hip-hop is so inspiring? Because they created something out of nothing. Sure, every artist does this, but it seems like hip-hop had more adversity than others. I watched the defiant ones on Netflix recently and it is so motivating. I am sure lots of people will take from it that they were lucky, but serendipity does not happen when you are at home on your couch doing nothing. Here is what I took from it:
Always work towards the bigger picture. Jimmy Iovine would not have a career if he had not gone to the studio on a holiday and met Bruce Springsteen. And Jimmy wanted to quit being an engineer on Born to Run because he was tired of asshole artists. His boss told him to look at the bigger picture. Your job is not to get paid for 9-5, your job is to help the artists make the best album they can make and if you do that, you will have a friend for life. Which brings me on to...
Relationships, relationships, relationships. Everything is built on relationships. Everything. Every opportunity and every risk. And they are best cultivated in person. And if not in person, then on the phone. Phone someone every day and keep that relationship hot. Whenever they signed someone tricky to get, it was because a relationship went sour and the artist wanted out. They got the artist because they worked on building and maintaining the relationship.
To scale, produce the producers. Jimmy realised that he could not get across all the artists he wanted to, so he had to get other producers rather than do all the work himself. This is not managing the managers, this is leading the leaders - and everyone can be a leader.
Get great people and let them do what they do. Do not try to control or manage the fall-out of great people. Just put the blinkers on them, set them down the course and let them ride. You got them for their good bits, do not try to manage their bad bits. That is part of who they are, and you will interfere with their creativity and passion if you do.
I found this so interesting and I for one have got a habit I want to try - phone every day. What are you going to try from this list? Let me know in the comments.
It is much easier when there is an air of possibility, when the future looks bright when you can see a way out. When the subject is something you are passionate about, when you are interested in learning more and excited about putting things into action.
But what about when the outlook is not that rosy? When you have to do things you are not interested in but have to learn anyway? Anyone that has tried to do anything of note - get promoted, start a company, get signed to a record label - has had to keep going through the tough times. They have had to be positive in the face of adversity. They have had to believe in a better future even when the present continues to look so bleak.
It is surely this ability to remain positive and focused no matter what fate throws at you that is the thing that separates success from failure, victory from defeat.
Being able to be positive though, is completely mental and nothing to do with external factors at all. Having a science background, I have been blind to this for a large part of my life. What was, in hindsight, cynical and destructive, I labelled as realistic. Of course, this is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If I think something will not work, then am I really likely to try past the first hurdle? It will just confirm what I thought, and I will give up.
Is there any downside to being positive in every situation? You will likely be happier, you will give more energy to yourself and those around you, and even if that particular situation does not work out, who cares? At least you give it your best shot with the best mindset. What is the alternative? To give up and be miserable? Go expand your possibilities.
Oscars usually go to someone actually doing their job - acting. People taking on roles that are different to their natural personality. I personally usually find these performances over exaggerated. Ones that would no doubt be impressive on the stage but are not subtle enough for my tastes on film. I prefer movies where for all intents and purposes the actors are just being themselves and they have been cast as such. Why force someone to act completely out of character when you could just get a different actor who is like that character?
This brings me on to personal development. If you want to be different, you can be right now. Today. The body leads the mind and the mind leads the body. Want to be more confident? Stand up tall, make eye contact longer than usual, speak to everyone you meet. These are not superpowers. Just act the way you want to be and soon you will gravitate towards this.
On the flip side, do not forget your strengths. Do you think that you will continue to be great at the things you are already known for if you are distracted acting at something else? It takes time and energy to think how to be different than your natural style.
What is natural though? Shyness and social awkwardness are learned, not innate. There are many examples of outgoing toddlers not afraid of anything who turn into reclusive teenagers trying to fit in.
For me, as Robert Kiyosaki says, you want to be on the edge of this particular coin. Knowing what side of the coin to use at any particular time. Know what will hold you back if you do not act differently and know what you are best at. Flip the coin as often as needed.
Remembering that you have control over your own emotions and your own reactions is surely something that should not be left for people to discover when they enter the real world by chance. Unless sought out through your own reading of books or blog posts or perhaps happened upon in a corporate training session, there is nowhere else this is taught.
For a sound mind and a happy life, it is surely the best remedy. As parents, all we really want is for our children to be happy. So why is this underlying outlook on life not taught in school? Why must we happen upon it by chance?
Learning how to think is the best possible thing one could learn. Some have it naturally, some pick it up and others waste a lifetime not knowing what they are missing. Instead, through frustration and regret, or worry and anxiety, seek a quick fix from a pill because they do not know there is nothing wrong with them apart from lack of practice.
I wonder whether schools will change what they teach in our lifetimes. How many people need to remember dates of historic battles? To remember the abbreviations of the periodic table or, in fact, to know anything without looking it up via Google. Is this really a skill that is needed?
With all this "knowledge," we leave school not being taught social skills, confidence, leadership, how to run a meeting, how to sell - an idea, a product, a business - how to start, time management, prioritisation, how to actively listen, eye contact, body language, how to code, how to find our strengths, how to delegate, how to bring others on board, how to be a kind human being, charity, money management, reallocation, pensions, 401Ks, ISAs, stocks and shares and tracker funds, bonds derivatives, lessons from the past rather than dates and facts.
These are the things you need to know in the real world. All I can remember from school is 1066, the battle of Hastings - and I was an A and B student.
The second of this weekend's link posts is some timely advice from Ayodeji Awosika on focussing on what you are rather than what you are not.
Stop letting them distract you.
No watching news this week. Do something that matters instead. Write the draft, lift the weight, call the potential customer, paint the picture, spend time with the loved one, serve the community, love the neighbor, care for yourself, seize the opportunity.
No focusing on what you aren’t. Focus on what you are — capable, resilient, human.
No outrage over the latest scandal. Focus on what you can control — your attitude, your action, your own moral fortitude and example set for others.
Maybe I went a little deep with this one, but what I see today appears to be a classic magic trick…
How does a magician trick you? He misdirects you. He draws your attention to his distraction while the real trick is happening elsewhere.
Don’t let the current climate of society trick you. While you’re focusing on what to be mad about you’re missing out on all the good the world has to offer.
Read the whole article here
Marcus Aurelius, as all the Stoics did, practices thinking of fame and high office as something to be put in its correct place, rather than something of importance. Even ambition itself to them is seen as something to be avoided. Why is ambition seen as good in our society now? Presumably, it was in Roman times too, which is why the Stoics had to practice avoiding it.
If you are an ambitious male, it is probably an attractive trait to your partner. Can you work towards anything in the future without ambition? If we are to despise the future and embrace the present, then surely, we would never even move from our current place of rest.
It is easy to see why courting fame should not be seen as a good thing. All your freedoms will be gone. All your money wasted in the premiums of privacy just to get the same liberties as anyone else. Paying thousands per night for a hotel room that you are then trapped in. Unable to go to the shops to get some mil without being pursued.
But what of more noble ambitions? What of calling? Marcus also laments of himself being lazy staying in bed. If he has no ambition or ambition is bad, then why is staying in bed so bad? Is working towards something bad? The work itself is in the present. Only taking the mind too far into the future is undesirable as it takes away from actually doing the work.
Great ambitions, those that run away with a person, to win at all costs, those are easier to see that they should be avoided. But to want to be the best version of yourself? Surely there can be no better ambition. The only better one perhaps is to help others as much as possible but to do that we must look after ourselves first.
There is lots online about the Navy Seal 40% rule. When you think you are done, you are only 40% done and there is lots more you can give.
I ran a 10k race on Sunday and was at a fine pace all the way through not to bother me. Not going for a quick time, just jogging around and chatting with friends. I have done half marathons before and my friends have done full marathons and ultra-marathons. The 10k distance should have been a nice jog all the way around, but we all found that just seeing that 9km marker made it instantly harder. Your mind starts to say, 'come on only another 1km to go, push on through.' My body started to tense, and I found myself willing myself to get to the finish line. Before seeing the sign that we only had 1km to go, everything was fine - I could have gone on for ages. If I had not seen the sign I know, as I have done hard marathons, that I can do about double the distance at the same pace. Knowing that I was near the end caused my mental process to get interrupted, my body to react and everything got more difficult.
Training where you do not know where the end will be is mentally tough. This is what they train for in the special forces and this is the right training to do.
Where in life do you know where the end is? Only in manufactured environments. School - exam. Race - finish line. Work - clocking off time.
Real life, the middle bit in-between your twenties until you die does not have clearly marked waypoints. You know neither whether you are headed in the right direction or how long you will be out here for. Not much trains you effectively for this apart from Stoicism. Having the mental capacity to keep going and doing the right thing is the thing that life demands but is not formally taught. Unless you seek it out and push yourself you might be able to keep going, but are you going in the right direction. Or you might be going in the right direction and give up before you get there.
When will you know when enough will be enough? When will you know when to quit? When to try something new? When to move on?
It is not often in our lives that we have a big event, an epiphany, a big decision, the benefit of hitting rock bottom, that causes us to go one of two clear-cut ways. Most of the time is spent leading up to this point so that it never happens as a Big Bang, to more of the time is spent avoiding any decision at all.
Is it right to expect anyone else to change? Have you seen enough evidence already? What will be different in the future?
You know the answers to these questions even if you do not like to admit it. The real questions are: How much longer are you going to accept this? This behaviour. The standards you have set for yourself. When will you know when enough is enough? The next time? The time after that? How will you know which straw will be the last straw? You do not want to wait until the proverbial camel's back is broken as that will be longer and more painful than avoiding the loading of all the other straws right now.
Then comes the real question, You probably know the answers to all the other questions already, although you choose not to admit them to yourself. The real question is, are you willing to accept the pain now? The pain of change. The pain of not knowing if everything would have turned out alright. The pain of uncertainty.
One is a short-term pain with longer better future. The other is a chronic disease that you have probably got so used to that you do not even notice it. Knowing which is which is the key to a good life.
Possessions, career ladder, salary.
Freedom, lifestyle, experiences.
Know which is which and what it takes to get there. Which type of pain and which benefits do you want?
Because it is personal. Other people do not know your goals or where you want to get to. Plus, are they much better than you? Do they have their own shit together? Are they saving enough for retirement? Are they working on multiple streams of income? Are they seeing their husbands and kids enough?
Even if so, do you trust them to put you first, or are they giving you things to work on that will benefit them rather than you? Even if, and that it's a big if to get to this point, all the above is true or irrelevant, are they any good at assessing what change will make a difference for you?
You can waste a lifetime trying to change based on other people's feedback, only to get conflicting feedback when your boss changes, you move department or change company to a different culture.
Gary Vee, as always, has a great way of thinking about other people's opinions in that he cares deeply what other people think and at the same time does not care at all.
How I see this is to care enough to listen but not to let it overcome who you are. You need other people's feedback to become self-aware but should not accept it carte-blanche or to act on it before assessing if you want to change in that area.
If Janet says you are too loud, it is not to be crippled by the thought, 'everyone thinks I am too loud, I need to be quieter.' It is just simply knowing, 'hmm, in the past, some people have found me too loud in certain circumstances. Do I want to work on this or not?'
There are so many ways to make money. Watching Young Welsh and Minted, it said there are over 12,000 millionaires in Wales. That is astonishing. Wales is tiny and most of it is hills where nobody lives. The show follows people, all making money in different ways, but the main thread is that they are all doing things that they love to do. They all reach out to their community a lot, they get a great following and therefore they make money. Whether it is modelling, talking about football, computer games or rally driving.
Now I am a parent, it is important to remember that our idea of what will make our son happy is, at some point, largely irrelevant. At the start of his life, he needs to learn that fire hurts, that falling off a slide makes him cry and that being kind is kind of good. But later, our conceptions of what he should do for a living should not matter and this is something I will try not to push on him. Who knew in the 80s and 0s that you could make more money from people watching you play video games than from being an accountant?
The jobs our kids have will likely not even exist yet. Who are we to tell them what they should be interested in? As long as they are passionate about something, I think they will be able to make a living out of it.
For the world today, it is people with a passion that are a scarce resource. After generations of being beaten down by school and what we must not do it has resulted in us having workers instead of artists, having worriers instead of doers.
Others have made the digital land grab and beaten us to it because we were too timid. Will you chose to be braver for the next opportunity? Why wait, there is still room to give value right now.