Author Archives: origin

Focus

Focus on less.

More.

pencils focus

Block out the noise and focus on one thing at a time. Educate yourself and gain understanding. Become sharp. Become better than others at that one thing.

Then do it again.

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Breathe…Easily or Not

Breathing is so easy you can do it in your sleep…what’s interesting is that it’s much more difficult when you’re actually awake and aware of it. The importance of simply interrupting your crazy life from time to time to focus on your breathing recently hit me, at the most unexpected time.

baby

Fatherhood is relatively new to me. I have a two year old little boy as well as a 3 month old baby girl, both of whom are the most beautiful things on this planet, next to my lovely wife. During the first month of her life, my daughter had it pretty rough. She had been experiencing a lot of belly pain and reflux that led to her crying pretty much anytime she wasn’t eating or sleeping. As you would imagine, that led to some pretty exhausting nights after also working a full-time job during the day – props to my wife for dealing with it all day long.

One night while trying to calm her down around 2-3am (I think, although everything at those hours is a bit blurry), I held her and found myself getting more and more anxious the more she kept crying. Nothing I did helped – feeding, changing, rocking…nothing. I felt my breathing getting a bit more intense and started to lose my cool, which certainly wasn’t helping matters. As I became more aware of my breathing, I started counting to myself and my brain jumped to one of my favorite tracks by the great Jay-Z, Lyrical Exercise.

1 – 2 – 3 – 4 … breathe easy

The song never jumped out to me as providing a larger lesson for life and showing the importance of controlling your breathing to calm yourself down and gain control of a situation. Maybe Jay had that in mind, or maybe he was just talking about his delivery when rapping, but either way it was speaking to me in the wee hours of that morning.

Regulating my breathing helped me control the situation and soon, I found that my daughter followed suit. As I caught my breathe, she began to do the same and soon we were both calm and able to get some rest.

Control your breathing, control the situation, achieve the desired outcome.

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Image from: https://www.pinterest.com/marilusa/o/


Rewind

Nas’s “Rewind” is genius. The whole jam is a story told in reverse, which I’ve never heard done on another track. It can be a little hard to follow at first, which really makes you listen to get the story. As I was listening, I realized an important lesson.

As Nas does in this track, take a “rewind” approach to your life. No, don’t focus on the past and what might have been had you made a few different choices. Instead, focus on the present and future, looking to the past as a lesson.

Study the choices you’ve made and the results that came of them. If you’re happy with where your choices have led, then continue doing what you’re doing. If you’re not happy, look back and see where you might have gone wrong. Rewind the story, figure out how you should have dealt with a certain situation and take this approach when presented with a similar situation now.

As your tracks play out, find time to rewind and evaluate how things have worked. It’s never too late to make some positive changes in your life.

Nas – Rewind


Trophies

“Society today won’t do anything unless there is an award involved or some kind of reward. They don’t want to make music unless they are going to get a million dollars or they are going to get a bunch of girls or gold chain or car…something that basically tells other people that they did something. People don’t just do it because they love it.”

– Apollo Brown via kevinnottingham.com

Live your life for you.

Not for others.

Trophies.

trophies

O.C. & Apollo Brown.


Provoke Thought

Sometimes, your thoughts and emotions are going to flow naturally. If you’re a creative type, you’ll be able to write a story, take a picture or compose a song with little effort. Other times, it’s going to feel like it’s impossible and you’ll never be able to successfully create something full of emotion again. From what I’ve experienced, this unfortunately happens all too frequently.

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This is something that happens not only when you’re creating art but also in many other aspects of your life, whether it’s performing well at your job, maintaining your health or loving someone special. Some days are naturally going to be easier than others. You’ll wake up ready to go and everything will seem to go your way. On these days you’ll wonder why you ever struggle…and then it happens again.

On the tough days it’s important to remind yourself that struggling is a natural part of life. It’s those that are able to make a conscious decision to work through this struggle that are ultimately able to find success. If your spouse is just getting under your skin, start by taking a deep breath and realizing you’re in control. Realize how important this person is to you and make a conscious decision to love. Be open and honest about what may be bothering you and simply say “I love you.”

If you’re having a tough day at work, start by taking a deep breath and realizing you’re in control. You may not be in control of everything at work, in fact there may be very few things you are in control of. But most importantly, one thing you are in control of is yourself and your reactions to the things happening around. Don’t let something out of your control get under your skin. Focus on what you can control and do that the best you possibly can. Soon, you’ll find that the other things that were bothering you naturally fade away and improve due to your positive actions.

thought-leadership-crap

Whatever the case may be, you’re going to have good days and bad days. On the bad days, take a step back and find something that helps you provoke thought, regain control and right the ship. One thing that works in my life is music. Music can alter feelings and emotions almost immediately. A few beats below are some of my favorites to throw on to just get me thinking. Thinking about what’s going wrong, thinking about what’s going right…just thinking. Find what works for you and use that to gain control of your life and your happiness, especially on those tough days we all have.

J Dilla – “Feel The Beat”

DJ Premier – “B-Line”


Stay True

Two of the most influential people in my life are Warren Buffet and Jay-Z. On the surface it looks like these guys have nothing in common. Warren Buffet is in his mid-80’s, lives and grew up in Omaha, NE and is much more qualified to have a discussion about how much he loves drinking coke than how he came up on selling coke on the streets. As the world already knows, this is exactly how Jay-Z got his start in the Marcy Projects of the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn, NY.

Both of these moguls, though extremely different in some respects, are exactly alike in others. They have both found amazing success due to their discipline and mindset regardless of their backgrounds and the industries in which they operate. The stock and hip-hop markets can both be very fickle. Many participants in both are all about the flavor of the day or hot new trend.

Investors routinely deploy large sums of money in companies that appear to be riding the latest fad only to see valuations become unreasonable and result in a crash, as we saw with the dot-com bubble bursting in the early 2000’s. Similarly, record companies are known to spot a new style or hot rapper and push them for an album or two before the market loses interest.

At the other end of the spectrum there is Warren and Jay. Both have been around since they started their careers and are the epitome of consistency. Warren is famous for finding and purchasing undervalued companies and holding them. A bad day in the market means nothing because over the long-term the market has consistently risen and this is something Warren preaches in all of his interviews. Pay no mind to the daily ebbs and flows of the market, in the long run it will result in success (assuming a sound investment in the first place) and allow you to sleep at night. The majority of investors take a drastically different approach, looking to make a quick buck and capitalize on the short-term fluctuation of securities. This is more of a guessing game resulting in higher fees and frequent capital losses.

Jay’s first album, Reasonable Doubt, came out in 1996. Since then he put out an album a year through 2003’s The Black Album when he “retired”. After “un-retiring”, he then went on to release five more albums, with his latest 4:44 coming this year. On top of this, Jay has been involved in fashion, real estate, sports, sports clubs and streaming music services just to name a few. This type of consistent hard work, growth and amazing success is not something you see everyday.

Warren Buffett and Jay-Z are the models of consistency. These two have been able to stay true to themselves and stick to what they know over two very long and successful careers.

Apply this lesson in your life.

Be consistent in what you go after, how hard you work to get it and how you present yourself to others. With a disciplined approach and the right mindset, you will undoubtedly achieve success.

 


Take the Bus

There is nothing more frustrating than running late for work, rushing out of the house, turning on to your street and getting stuck behind a school bus…

Something hit me as last week as I repeatedly stopped and watched that dreaded octagon fling open over and over, tacking on precious minutes to my commute during an already busy rush hour. Everything was going to be fine. It always is. There was no need to stress and ruin my morning over nothing.

In addition to this, I realized the importance of throwing up the stop sign and opening my door to a new lesson, a new experience whenever it chooses to present itself. With each struggle comes a new lesson and eventually comes strength. Never did I think a stressful morning would lead to seeing the world in a slightly different way, but it did. Train yourself to never let something control you and your mind to the point where you are blocking out positive things in your life. When you lack control, you will see the most insignificant of things start to control you and your happiness. Sometimes you just need to take the bus…

Wait.

Watch, listen, think, understand, learn.

Ride.

Watch, listen, think, understand, learn.

Teach.


The Modern Day Samurai

Eastern philosophy and religion has always been something that interests me. The first book I read related to this way back when was the Tao of Pooh. At the time, I think I was in high school, I had no idea what the hell I was reading. It was really the first thing I had read that was phrased in a different way and wasn’t straight forward about the point trying to be proven. The best part was that there wasn’t only one point that a reader could take from any given lesson, it was up to the reader to take what they wanted.

I found that a lot of books about Eastern philosophy and religion were presented in a similar way. After the Tao of Pooh, I read the Tao Te Ching, which was even deeper. I’m sure I don’t understand even half of what’s going on in the book, but I do know that I was able to take some valuable lessons from it. Every time I go back and read some more, I feel like I take something new from it.

This book led me to the Art of War by Sun Tzu. I thought I didn’t understand these other books, but now I was really lost. I had no military experience, no real experience fighting of any kind. So to be honest, this one was lost on me for a while. I was looking for the lessons, but I was thinking way too literal and I just couldn’t’ find the application in my own life. Then, one day it slowly started to make sense to me. No, I was not a general planning for battle. But I was a student studying for a test. I was a college graduate prepping for an interview. I was a young professional working late to get ahead…for all intents and purposes, I was a general planning for battle.

Once this clicked in my head, I started to find a way to apply all of these war and battle references to my own life, to some degree. I started to think of myself as a sort of general, or samurai even. This is a way of thinking that has stuck with me for some time now, finding similarities between my life and that of a samurai. In some respects, I am the furthest thing from a samurai. When I look past some of the literal meaning – I’m not planning on cutting off anyone’s head or riding into battle on my horse anytime soon – I’ve found that I tend to live my life, and want to live my life, with the focus and determination like that of a modern day samurai. I eventually made my way to Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai. There are some great lessons in this book when broken down and applied to your life and your situation. I will no doubt be inspired many a time and reference this book in this blog in the future.

In short, when you are looking for lessons in your life, don’t take things too literal. Look past the literal meaning of things. Use your imagination and creativity to find a way to compare things to your own life. When you start to open your mind, who knows what you’re going to find.

Sharpen your sword and get ready for battle.


Always a Way

It is never a question of whether you can do something or not. The real question is how bad do you want it?

There are countless stories of people from every walk of life beating the odds and accomplishing something that no one, probably even themselves at times, thought they could accomplish. From cancer survivors to successful entrepreneurs to professional athletes, there are qualities that remain consistent.

Drive.

Determination.

A willingness to sacrifice.

A willingness to work hard.

These, of course, are only a few. A quick study or observance of anyone whom you find to be successful in life will easily reveal what’s necessary to become successful. Watch the actions of someone at work. Listen to a parent. Talk to a friend. Lessons can come from anywhere. Use these lessons to help you realize that anything is possible.

Never grow accustomed to losing and remember that if you “want something bad enough [you’ll] always find a way to get through.” – The Stones

Also check out Tim Ferriss’s blog. I recently found Tim’s blog and podcast and discovered that his approach is similar to the thoughts presented in this post. In his book, Tools of Titans, he discusses the different traits that have led to success in a wide array of industries and professions.

Never stop looking for the next lesson and those that have found success in life are a great source for it.


Comfort Zone

 

Chess Life

One of the hardest things to do in life is to step outside your comfort zone. We all like to be around people that we know well and do things that we’re very comfortable with. Being comfortable is a great feeling and one that you should be sure to enjoy when you have it. If we never stray from always seeking comfort, however, our growth will stagnate and over time, you will be less likely to accept new challenges. You will find yourself being comfortable, but never reaching your true potential. For some that is OK…for others, that is not an easy truth to accept. I tend to fall in the latter group.

Take time to reflect on your life and what you’ve accomplished to this point. Is that enough for you? Do you think you can achieve more? If you think you can, then you can. One way to start down the path of continued growth is to find ways of taking yourself out of your comfort zone. Seek new challenges at work and in your personal life. Doing new things will surely bring about fear, anxiety and a general feeling of being uncomfortable. As you learn more about these new experiences, however ,you will find that there is nothing to be afraid of. Knowledge overcomes fear and will lead to strength. In time, you will look back and be grateful that you accepted new challenges. You will realize that stepping out of your comfort zone has made you a stronger person, one that has overcome fear and replaced it with an excitement for becoming a better person in life.

“By deliberately putting yourself in situations where you have to face fear, you familiarize yourself with it and your anxiety grows less acute. The sensation of overcoming a deep-rooted fear in turn gives you confidence and presence of mind. The more conflicts and difficult situations you put yourself through, the more battle-tested your mind will be.” (Robert Greene, The 33 Strategies of War)

Ain’t nobody been where I’ve been…

They’re at a standstill…

I know that I ain’t got much time here…

Nas – “Let There Be Light”