To me, Jay-Z is the epitome of the American dream: started off in the projects, and now is a self-made (almost) billionaire.
He is deeper than he seems
If you don’t know much about Jay-Z, I recommend reading his biography called ‘Decoded’— he’s actually deeper, more profound, than he seems.
He sees hip hop as poetry. I agree.
Some lessons I learned from Jay-Z:
1. Work god damn hard
I’m far from being god, but I work god damn hard.
You can’t knock the hustle of Jay-Z.
Nothing is given to mortals except the ability for us to work hard.
We need to work hard and hustle to achieve our dreams. We can’t expect to just sit on our asses, and get free hand-outs.
2. Never stop learning
We gotta stay hungry, to keep learning.
If we just learn a little more everyday, and get a little brighter— we will soon become a torch for others:
I’m hungry for knowledge. The whole thing is to learn every day. To get brighter and brighter. That’s what this world is about. You look at someone like Gandhi, and he glowed. Martin Luther King glowed. Muhammad Ali glows. I think that’s from being bright all the time, and trying to be brighter.
Keep working hard to make yourself brighter; and to help lead the path for others.
3. Design yourself
Remind yourself nobody’s built like you. You design yourself.
If you were a designer; you can design your home.
Why not be a designer of your mind? To design who you are as a human being.
Design your thoughts, design your actions, and your purpose in life.
4. Overcome your fears
The only way to become successful; overcome your fears, and take action in life.
Words don’t do nothing. Action creates real change in the real world:
Those who are successful overcome their fears and take action. Those who aren’t — they submit to their fears and live with regrets.
Fuck fear, and living with regrets. Be noble, epic, and have valor. Go out and make positive change and action in your life.
5. Jealousy is a weak emotion
Jealousy’s a weak emotion.
Never be jealous or envious of others. Rather; focus on yourself, and keep hustling.
6. Always try
I’m not afraid of dying, I’m afraid of not trying.
Nothing worse than living with regrets in life— by not trying.
Fuck not trying; or not doing.
Be a doer. Try, and don’t be afraid of failure. Learn from your mistakes, and ‘fail forward.’
7. Impossible takes a week
Difficult takes a day, impossible takes a week.
You can move mountains in a day, and accomplish ‘impossible’ in a week.
No constraints to yourself. Never doubt yourself.
8. Work, work, work, work
Without the work, the magic won’t come.
No magic without the work.
9. Dream enormous
It is the magic of thinking big:
I’d rather die enormous than live dormant.
Imagine yourself on your death bed. Imagine all the great accomplishments you want to achieve in your epic life; rather than to die, timid, alone, and dormant.
10. Don’t follow trends
Trends are a ‘house of sand’ — they will be swept away by the winds, like a child’s sandcastle at the beach:
You can’t fake whatever the current trend is if it’s not you; because it might work for a second, but it’s a house of sand.
Imagine Jay-Z, in his ‘Death of Autotune’ song — criticizing the rad of autotune. Which in-fact, did just pass like a fad.
Stay true to your own inner-set of beliefs. Don’t ride the waves of fads; or else you will drown in the ocean.
11. Create your own business
Don’t prostitute yourself to the businesses of others— create your own business:
I’m not a businessman; I’m a business, man.
Jay-Z used to promote the clothes of other brands, and one day realized— he should just create his own clothing brand (Rocawear). The same goes with all his other business ventures— he became the nexus, between art and commerce.
12. Onto the next one
“I’m onto the next one.” – Jay Z
When you have accomplished something; don’t dwell too long— move onto the next one.
Don’t live in the past, or listen to your fans who like your old shit. As Jay-Z says:
If you like my old shit; buy my old albums.
Never stop re-inventing yourself, even Jay-Z at 40+ years old, is still relevant in the hip hop game.
13. Choose your own fate
My childhood didn’t mean much; only raising green up // raising my fingers to critics; raising my head to the sky // just know I chose my own fate; I drove by the fork in the road and went straight.
Choose your own fate; see the fork in the road, and drive straight.
Disregard the binary options that people give you in life. They might say you have the choice between the road “A” and road “B.” But know, you can pave your own road— and drive straight and go off-roading.
Choose your own fate, and create your own future.
14. Hustling is life
I love metaphors and for me hustling is the ultimate metaphor for the basic human struggles; the struggle to survive and resist, the struggle to win and to make sense of it all.
The human struggle is to overcome difficulty.
Life without struggle isn’t worth living:
The deeper we get into those sidewalk cracks into the mind of the young hustler trying to find his fortune there, the closer we get to the ultimate human story, the story of struggle; which is what define us all.
15. Never stop hustling
I’m never satisfied; can’t knock my hustle
I think human happiness is more about finding satisfaction in life, rather than desiring more.
But, I believe that life without hustle, without dreams for the future, isn’t worth living. It will easily become dull, and boring.
Rather, I think we should keep hustling in our creative arts. To keep hustling to improve ourselves, to improve the life conditions of others, and to keep up the hustle our entire lives.
I want to die colossal. I want to die at age 90+, knowing I dedicated my entire life to art, and helping others. I want to be more ambitious to help more people— but to be content with the few things I already have.
To sum up, I would say these are my top 3 lessons from Jay-Z:
- Disregard the haters; follow your own voice and vision
- Build your own business; don’t work for the businesses of others
- Never stop hustling: even when you’re on top; never stop hustling.