As one year winds down and distractions become fewer as the Holidays approach, I usually take too much time to selfishly analyze my life and progress. For someone as analytical and as much of an over-thinker as I, this is like handing a loaded gun to a child. In one of my recent mind tangents, my attention was brought few months ago when I attended a very cool lecture in Westchester County, NY. At this lecture, esteemed author Norman Rosenthal spoke on his recently released book, “The Gift of Adversity”. In this very wonderful text, Norman discusses how difficult times bring forth greatness in an individual and how said “adversity” can inspire great success, not only career and material success but success in becoming a kinder and more compassionate being. At the end of the lecture Dr. Norman took a round of questions. I nervously stood up and asked the man a dumb question. I stammered, “For a young person trying to make it in a difficult profession, what is the best piece of advice you can give me to become successful at what I want to do?” He laughed. Maybe at my broad seemingly unanswerable and novice question or possibly at me. (It would not be the first time!) I think he may have laughed because there is no absolute formula, is there? I had embarrassed myself again in another public forum. However, his advice was simple. “You must be tenacious and flexible.” In other words, boldly go toward the direction of your dreams but be open and flexible to changing directions if it’s called for. Although I was searching for an answer in regards to career and success, I’m pretty sure his advice is equally applicable to life in general. We must be tough. We must be open to change. We must not attach too strongly to anything and we must not give up when we sit in shit (No joke. This actually happened to me recently. Story for another day.) Whenever I write something above my ‘pay grade’ so to speak, I make sure to articulate how out of my element I really am. I am not even 25 years old and I am certainly not qualified to wax poetic on ANYTHING (unless it pertains to jiu jitsu, politics, outer space trivia or 90’s hip hop history) but this year I have been “boldly going” towards the direction of my dream with said flexibility and tenacity as per Dr. Norman and here is what I learned equally through error and good. (to be taken with a grain of salt, of course.)
- Play up your strengths.
Do what you’re good at and do it well. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Compete only with yourself. Find your role and own it. Be the best you can be. Don’t let anyone tell you that you cannot or will not. Don’t let your stupid brain and neurosis get the better of you.
- Don’t (just) cha$e paper.
Money can afford opportunities and comfort but I’m realizing that chasing after something only for financial success doesn’t equal happiness. It also does not work and does not happen in the music business. If I wanted easy money, I should’ve gone to law school and become one of those ambulance chasers you see on TV or a UFC fighter.
- Listen to your gut.
Get out of unhealthy situations that do not serve you well. I’ve stayed in bad life situations because I was afraid of change and/or did not want to offend others even though the pit of my stomach told me otherwise. Compromising yourself for the sake of others won’t get you any closer to anything but hell and heartbreak.
- Learn something
People will be mean, dishonest, cutthroat, lie to your face and possibly even leg sweep/drop kick/punch you in the face literally. They will also help you, listen, beat sense into you, make you better, teach you things and tell you the truth when you need to hear it. If you are human you’ll do all or most of these things in your best and weakest moments. Learn something. Don’t repeat the same things over and over again if they aren’t life supporting or working. (I think someone called this INSANITY?)
- Value only what’s important
I was/am a drama major in high school and quasi drama queen in real life so there’s nothing I love more than a good old rousing ‘defend your honor’ type shit show like most idiots. However, with now absolute certainty: He said. She said. I am but am I? I will but willl? I did but did I? I should but should I? I am. I did not. I will not. I cannot. You are. You did. You should. We are. They are. They can’t. I have a headache. I need a Xanax. 100% the biggest waste of productive time on Planet Earth. Don’t try to control anything/anyone. Everyone is entitled to their opinion whether it’s right or wrong. LET. IT. GO.
- Compassion for others. Compassion for yourself.
Happy Holidays Substream friends.