Category Archives: Wisdom

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.


Approach

Education is one of the most important things that we can seek in this world. An educated person will be well equipped for success in all areas of their personal and professional lives. As you become more educated, however, you are going to become more aware of the mistakes that people in your life are making. This may be something so trivial as the incorrect pronunciation of a word or something a bit more substantial, such as making a financial or professional decision that will likely lead to unwanted results.

It is natural to want to pass on some advice that you’ve learned from your own life experiences, but in order for your advice to be trusted and followed, it is essential that you find a proper way of educating someone without insulting or embarrassing them.

“By bringing shame to a person, how could one expect to make him a better man?” (Hagakure)

If you take a direct approach and call out someone who is making a mistake, they will almost definitely take offense to your correction. Even worse, this approach taken in front of others will certainly embarrass the person. By finding an indirect way of providing the correct information, you will help the person realize the mistake they have already, or were about to, make. This lesson was one that Marcus Aurelius learned from the literary critic Alexander…

“Not to be constantly correcting people, and in particular not to jump on them whenever they make an error of usage or a grammatical mistake or mispronounce something, but just answer their question or add another example, or debate the issue itself (not their phrasing), or make some other contribution to the discussion – and insert the right expression, unobtrusively.” (Meditations)

my_approach_big

Life is all about your approach. Your ability to be trusted by your peers and seen as a true teacher, and leader, is no different.


Fair Process

Sometimes life is fair. Many times it’s not.

If you’re fortunate enough to be in a position of leadership, it’s important to remember that not only do people care about outcomes, but how they are treated and whether or not they are being treated fairly. When treated fairly, they will more than likely be motivated to continue working with you and for you. On the other hand…

An abuse of power is likely to result in a loss of power.

Seek fair process.

 


Discipline

Life is filled with distractions and excuses.

Before going to bed at night, you tell yourself you’re going to get in a workout at the gym before going to work the following morning. When you wake up, the snooze button on your alarm looks so tempting and you tell yourself a few more minutes and then you’ll get up. After waking up to the second alarm, you remember the nightly news said it would be quite a chilly morning and to watch out for snow and ice. One more snooze couldn’t hurt. Finally, you realize you’ll be late for work if you don’t get up now and you mosey on to the shower…that whole workout idea just wasn’t meant to be…

Upon your arrival to work, the first thing you see is a stack of papers on your desk and the “to do” notes you left for yourself from a lazy Friday. Today is definitely the day you get yourself caught up, but rather than digging in, you decide to log into your personal email and have a quick chat session with some friends that happen to be online. After this, it’s off to the kitchen to brew up some coffee and make your breakfast. On your way to and from the kitchen, there of course is some small talk with your colleagues. Once you finish up your breakfast and realize your a few minutes late for your first meeting of the day. Next, it’s lunch time. Then running out for a quick errand. One more meeting for the day…getting to all you said you would just wasn’t meant to be…

With your day just about complete, it’s finally time for the hobby you’ve been telling yourself you’d get back into to keep your mind on point and attempt to earn some extra cash on the side. Right after dinner, of course. But wait, the newest episode of your favorite show is on tv tonight! You can’t miss it…getting back to that hobby just wasn’t meant to be…but tomorrow is the perfect day!

I do these same things all the time, but have tried to realize that without focus and discipline, nothing will ever get done. Discipline is essential for success and without it, you will not continue to grow and better your life and the lives of those around you. Train yourself.

People here’s something that you should be considerin’

Things could turn bitter when you don’t use discipline

You might wake up the next day upset and in fear

Buggin out, yappin’ bout “How the f!@# did I get here?”

Gang Starr – “Discipline”


Bridges

Never burn a bridge.

Every bridge was built for a reason.

Art by Lena - "A New Day's Morning"

Art by Lena – “A New Day’s Morning”

 

The reason will reveal itself in time.

 


Be Easy

Life is filled with ups and downs, better times and harder times, good and bad everything. No one has it easy all the time and it is those who decide not to let the struggle get to them that come out on top in the end. Of course, some are dealt a much harder hand than others, but the proper tools are available to guide you to where you want to be regardless of where you come from.

Sometimes what is needed may be found in a book of philosophy. I’m currently reading Meditations by Marcus Aurelius and I’d recommend it to anyone looking to learn more about character, acceptance, focus and control…Sometimes what is needed may be found in the success stories of others who have gone through a similar struggle. It’s always helpful when you can learn about and relate to someone and what they’ve overcome in their lives…and sometimes what is needed may be found in the lyrics or music of a song. As is evident by the posts on this page, I commonly find inspiration and lessons in various types on music and I suggest listening to music a bit deeper to see if there are any lessons you may be able to take for yourself and apply to your own life.

I heard a song called “Be Easy” by Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings the other day and it got me thinking. First of all, I love Sharon Jones and the classic soul vibe her and her band provide so it’s just a good, relaxing listen. The title of this particular song made me think of how important it is in life to “be easy” and not let any one thing affect you and your livelihood too much. Face it, you are going to go through rough times and things are not always going to go your way. You will be stressed at work. You will fight with a loved one. You will do some things that you will immediately regret.

Fortunately, for all of us, these things are just part of life. The downs that come with the ups. They are not things that happen only to you because the world hates you. Once you realize life is going to happen regardless of what you do, it will be easier to accept the fact that you can’t control everything. Control what you can, what is inside of you, and accept the rest as it is. Be the best person you can be – hard working, loving, respectful – and let everything else go. If you can do this, you should start to find that happiness you’ve been looking for. Realize that life will happen as it should and all you can do is be easy

Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – “Be Easy”


Respiration

As you grow older, priorities and responsibilities naturally grow as well. A natural progression leads to our priorities changing from things like what toy to ask for at Christmas time, to what school you want to attend, to whether or not to take your relationship to the next level, to worrying about making a deadline at work.

While all of this is going on, it’s sometimes easy to get caught up in the day to day grind and forget to breathe. When things get a bit too hectic, take a step back and take a few minutes for yourself. A mid-day walk, moment of silence or throwing your headphones on to escape to your favorite song can help you find your focus again.

It’s easy to let the little things pile up to become something unmanageable but before that happens, remember to breathe. You can handle any situation thrown at you one step at a time.

Black Star ft. Common – “Respiration”


Awareness

You will find in your life that success often comes with a price. People in your life that have always treated you one way may start to act differently around you once you begin to become more successful than they are. As Jay-Z said in “Lucky Me”…

Any type of success breeds envy.

As you live your life, continue to make progress. Get an education. Use this education to secure a well paying job, or create your own job. Keep your life balanced with hard work and relationships with loved ones. Keep your family and friends close. Keep that one person that means most even closer. Grow together.

All the while, know that there will be people around you that will not continue to grow. They will get stuck in their ways, become satisfied with the status quo and no longer have the desire to better themselves and their situation. Because of this, they will see your success and jealousy will begin to set in. Always be aware and take people as they are, knowing that the only person you can change is yourself.

“Every dollar you make comes with a set of eyes and a set of loose lips if ever you ever hide.”

Skyzoo – “Necessary Evils”