Growing up in my household, music was always a big thing. My grandmother was the church organist, my mother and aunts (known then as “The Berry Sisters”) used to sing at area churches and my father also played instruments as a young child.
On Saturdays, I remember listening to Luther Vandross as my mother would clean the house. “Never Too Much” was the jam. But the love of music was instilled in me at a young age, as I too, played instruments growing up – five instruments to be exact AND I was in marching band all the way through high school!
One of the biggest musical genres that influenced my life growing up was hip-hop, and one of my favorite rappers, and arguably the greatest rapper of all time, was Notorious B.I.G. aka “Biggie Smalls”. Now a lot of his lyrics talked about the struggles of his life, selling drugs, guns and women. But his lyrics also shed insight on what it takes to be successful. Or to put it into Biggie’s words, to go from “ashy to classy”. You see, my mind works in mysterious ways as I always look at things for what they are, but then imagine things for what they can be. With Biggie being one of the greatest storytellers of rap, by listening closely, you too can take away little nuggets about success and apply them to your daily life.
So, for you hip-hop-loving-successful-people, here are four rules of success from Notorious B.I.G.:
Juicy | “…I`m blowin’ up like you thought I would / Call the crib, same number same hood / it’s all good…”
I still remember the apartments my family lived in while growing up in the Piccadilly and Hurstbourne Gardens complexes. And I remember the first house we moved into when I was in the 3rd grade. I remember never having a pair of expensive tennis shoes, because my parents didn’t think we needed them. Hell, the only reason I got to wear Nike’s was because of the basketball team. My first pair of track cleats were Asics! I have never forgotten those moments, and neither should you. Never forget where you come from. One commonality that successful people share, is that they often come from humble beginnings. Some even come from the direst of circumstances filled with abuse, crime, drugs and poverty. These humble beginnings seem to be the catalyst that fuels them towards success, because they want better for their families than what they experienced themselves. There is nothing wrong with that mentality, matter of fact, it is encouraged. But once you make it, always make time to reflect on what was and rejoice on what is.
Breakin’ Old Habits | “…You still watch for the haters and the rugged crew / `Cause breakin’ old habits so hard to do…”
There is a myth out there that says it takes 21 days to form a habit. Good or bad, if you do something on a consistent basis then it becomes a routine. As humans, we are creatures of habit, so yes, breaking habits is very hard to do. But in order to break or form habits, it doesn’t require a timetable of 21 days. It simply requires a shift in mentality. In order to change your mentality, it means you have to drain out the negative thoughts and pour in the positive thoughts. Those positive thoughts come from various buckets such as family, friends and anything else that surrounds you. The things that surround you are the ingredients of your character.
Ten Crack Commandments | “…I been in this game for years, it made me a animal / It’s rules to this shit, I wrote me a manual / A step by step booklet for you to get / your game on track, not your wig pushed back…”
Someone once told me that in your career, your 20s are meant for you to learn, your 30s are meant for you to earn and your 40s are for you to find something of concern. And what they meant by that, was early on in your career is when you want to be the most aggressive. Go after those lofty dreams and earn as much money and power as you can. But as you get older, find people and causes to give back to, so that you can help the next person get to where you are or beyond. This concept is nothing new, as my ancestors who were slaves used this same approach, and they called it “each one, teach one” – the problem is, each one of us has somehow forgotten to teach anyone anything. Who are you reaching, and who are you teaching?
Sky’s The Limit | …“Sky is the limit and you know that you can have what you want, be what you want, have what you want, be what you want…”
One of the first rules of success is understanding that the sky is the limit, which means your dreams can stretch as far as you can imagine. According to science, no one really knows how high the sky is, but we do know that the sky is just part of our multi-layered atmosphere. Each of those layers has a role in protecting Earth. So if you aimed for the highest point of the atmosphere, that would put you in outer space. Outer space is basically a big vacuum where the stars and planets move freely, and humans, without the right protection would perish quickly. However, if you know where you’re going, what you want you to be and what you need to get there, then you’ll have already taken all the necessary precautions to exist in your “outer space” – simply referred to as success.
Photo courtesy of http://www.neontommy.com.