“Would You rather be at war with yourself and at peace with the world, or at peace with yourself and at war with the world.”— Nipsey Hussle
As 2018 comes to a close and we transition into the new year, I saw it fitting for the December article to highlight/breakdown a few lyrics from my favorite album of the year-- Victory Lap. Nipsey Hussle’s debut album was widely critically acclaimed, and most recently received the Grammy nod for “Best Rap Album”.
“I'M PROLIFIC, SO GIFTED / I'M THE TYPE THAT'S GON' GO GET IT, NO KIDDIN.”— “VICTORY LAP”, NIPSEY HUSSLE
It’s ironic that Nipsey’s first words on his debut album are ones of affirmation. In the opening line, he claims that he is prolific (fruitful or highly productive), gifted, and a self-starter. And as a Nipsey Hussle fan, I know this was done intentionally. The opening line resonated so much with me personally because since entering into this new life of entrepreneurship, one of the routines I’ve established is writing down affirmations in a journal every morning followed by repeating those affirmations to myself in the mirror.
Starting off the album with affirmations confirms the importance of starting off your day by speaking life into yourself. We live in a world that constantly tells us we are not enough. From the advertisement we consume, to our Instagram timeline which facilitates an environment of comparison, so often we are greeted in the morning with this reminder. This led me to make the decision to dedicate my mornings to Nathan. I wake up and pray/have my quiet time, write an accomplishment from the prior day and my affirmations. Then go to the mirror and repeat the affirmations to myself, and finally head to the gym. Practicing this routine has allowed me to take control of my day because private victories precede public victories. In addition, I added the practice of not checking my email, social media, and occasionally text until after my workout.
Over the past few months I’ve learned to not wake up and attempt to conquer the world rather first conquer myself. Which means reminding Nathan of who he is and what he’s been called to do.
“HOW LONG SHOULD I STAY DEDICATED? / HOW LONG 'TIL OPPORTUNITY MEET PREPARATION?” — “YOUNG N”, NIPSEY HUSSLE
I’ve asked myself this question so many times over the past 4 months. When is it going to be my turn to shine? When is my day/opportunity going to come? Well Nipsey gave the answer in the song Dedication ft Kendrick Lamar.
“TO MAKE IT HAPPEN YOU GOT TO HAVE/ DEDICATION, HARD WORK PLUS PATIENCE / THE SUM OF ALL MY SACRIFICE, I'M DONE WAITIN' / I'M DONE WAITIN', TOLD YOU THAT I WASN'T PLAYIN' / NOW YOU HEAR WHAT I BEEN SAYIN' DEDICATION.” — “DEDICATION”, NIPSEY HUSSLE
On my first real estate deal I found a buyer for the property within 2 days of getting the lead. In fact, the purchaser was the 3rd investor I called. I was off to the races. Thrilled by the quick turnaround, I began to think “Ok Nate, you’re the man. You can do this.”. But things took an abrupt turn. From the day that I closed on my first deal it took 102 days, hundreds of calls and emails, and hours upon hours of research until my next deal. During this 102 day process I asked myself why? I’m “dedicated” , “hard working”, and trying to be “patient” but where is my opportunity?
Despite my countless hours of work I was not as prepared as I thought. Mid November my Dad asked, “Nathan do you have a business plan?”, I responded not really, and he replied, “so is this a business or a hobby?” Damn, when I tell you I was hurt- hurt lol. He was right, I was treating my business like a hobby. I was not tracking or measuring my hours spent on the business, my expenses, lead follow-up, marketing, etc. And I was not spending time planning to create the future I was desperately striving for.
“Resulting, assuming that our decision-making is good or bad based on a small set of outcomes, is a pretty reasonable strategy for learning in chess. But not in poker – or life...You have control over the quality of your decisions. You don’t have full control over the outcomes of your decisions.” — Annie Duke
The danger of early success without preparation is resulting. I believed that I was better than I actually was because I closed the deal. Fortunately, I learned this lesson early in my journey because the more success the more challenging it is to double-back and start planning. For example, the high school student that has the most difficult transition into college is the one who had success in the classroom in high school with minimal studying or preparation. Our natural abilities can only get us so far. We all come to a point where preparation is the only way to have a chance at success.
"I will prepare and some day my chance will come." — Abraham Lincoln
I assumed the problem was a lack of opportunity when in fact there was an abundance of opportunity all around me. My real issue was inadequate preparation. It’s our preparation that allows us to both see and seize the opportunity, not the reverse.
WATCHING AND THEY WISHIN' THAT IT WASN'T YOURS / I FORGIVE YOU, I REMEMBER I WAS POOR / PLUS I AIN'T IN THE WAY OF WHAT YOU REACHIN' FOR / YOU GOTTA PLAY THE GAME, YOU GOTTA READ THE SCORE — “YOUNG N”, NIPSEY HUSSLE
One of the greatest assets you can have in life is an abundance mindset (believing there is plenty out there for everybody). Unfortunately, most of us, myself included have been conditioned to have a scarcity mindset which believes there is not enough. According to Stephen Covey, people with a scarcity mentality have a difficult time sharing recognition and credit, power or profit. And have a hard time being genuinely happy for other people. Especially members of their own family or close friends.
In this line Nipsey touches on a real issue that many successful entertainers who make it out of the inner city face-- jealousy and envy from acquaintances, and even friends/family. Kendrick articulated it best, “I wasn't jealous 'cause of the talents they got / I was terrified they'll be the last black boys to fly Out of Compton”. We’ve been taught that opportunities are limited because historically the gatekeepers would only allow 1 of us in the room. When in reality opportunity is unlimited because it’s created through proper preparation/planning.
Prior to my transition, I assumed that I had an abundance mindset because I claimed to believe statements like “what’s for me I will get”. Failing to realize that I was a walking contradiction because my actions did not reflect the words I claimed to believe. I was comfortable making that statement early in the process but as time passed and things seemed to consistently NOT go my way. I became extremely frustrated reverting back to a mindset of lack and scarcity because I saw other people having success. Operating as if opportunity was finite rather than infinite. But as Nipsey said, “no one is in the way of what you are reaching for.” I was holding my own self back because of my mindset.
Developing an abundance mindset has allowed me to think long-term despite my need to survive in the short-term. For example, in real estate a scarcity mindset causes many people to become greedy. Seeing opportunity as limited, they attempt to suck dry whatever comes their way even if it calls for a lack of integrity. Concentrating on today and neglecting tomorrow.
We’ve all heard relationships is the most important part of business but what does that really mean? I now understand that it means to prioritize relationships in business. Because business is interdependent, even at the highest level collaboration is required, i.e. Spotify giving their members Netflix. And where our focus goes our energy flows. So naturally when we focus on relationships we develop a long term approach. However, when you prioritize anything other than the relationship, like money, power, etc, you develop a short-term focus. And what I’ve learned in the past few months is that a business agreement based on money does not last long. Only those founded on genuine relationships stand the test of time.
“WE DONE TOOK A DREAM AND TURNED IT TO A ZENITH / ANYTHING I WANTED AND EVERYTHING I NEEDED / GOTTA PACE YOURSELF, IT'S ALL ABOUT YO' BREATHING / YOU CAN HAVE IT ALL, IT'S ALL ABOUT YOUR REASON / I DONE TOOK MY NAME AND CARVED IT IN THE CEMENT.” — “BLUE LACES 2”, NIPSEY HUSSLE
I’ve had Victory Lap in rotation since its release in February but not until I began writing this article was I able to fully embrace the first line. Never having won the title of spelling bee champ or ace the vocabulary section on my SAT’s, I did not fully understand the word “zenith”, so I could not truly appreciate its context and the meaning it gave to Hussle’s bar in Blue Laces 2. Zenith is defined as, the time at which something is most powerful or successful. Here in this set of lines Nipsey demonstrates a unique play on words as each line is followed by a line that articulates how to achieve it.
He claims that to accomplish your dreams and get everything you want out of life, you need patience. A running theme throughout many of the lyric excerpts from this piece and in Nipsey’s music, in general. Then comes, “You can have it all, it’s all about your reason”, a personal stand out line in this set which articulates how to have patience. Here he explains how your level of patience is as strong as your why or your reason for wanting to accomplish a said goal. It’s why despite 102 days of nothing I didn’t quit because my why is bigger than money.
Finally, “I done took my name and carved it in the cement.” This line answers the question, how does one find their why. It’s your life's purpose or in the words of Nipsey, “what you are willing to go to war for.” Growing up and even recently I’ve had “why’s” that were carved in the sand. I aspired to stunt, have money, and be able to wholeheartedly rap “when I was 16 I bought my first Mercedes Benz” while riding in a Benzo at age 16 lol. But it was never enough, hence why you’ve never seen me post a TBT on IG with me in a Benz and those lyrics as the caption. However, now that I have a clear mission and understand the purpose of my life, my why is in the cement because it’s no longer just about material possessions or myself, it about others.
NEVER STOP GRINDIN', CHERISH NO POSSESSIONS / WE AIN'T GET ACCEPTED, WE JUST REINVESTED — “STATUS SYMBOL”, NIPSEY HUSSLE
Writing “The Art of Savings” was my initial step in overcoming my love for possessions. The “Give, Live, Save” article allowed me to take another huge step. I had to learn to lose my value for things before I could have my own business. Countless business owners can't sustain their company despite having success because they spend all their money on themselves instead of growing the business. Rather than reinvest, they make decisions to continue acquiring possessions.
Unfortunately, overcoming my desire for material belongings was not enough, I also had to learn to reinvest in myself. Initially, I planned to use a significant portion of the income I made from each deal to pay off all my student loans and credit card debt. I thought the decision showed solid financial judgment when in reality it showed that I had yet to fully embrace the abundance mindset. My decision was based on the idea that if things didn’t work out at least all my debt would be cleared. So instead of betting on myself like I did when I made the decisions to quit, I stored up money to pay bills. As an entrepreneur the level to which are you are willing to reinvest in yourself is dependent upon your level of belief in yourself/business. If you can’t reinvest money, you are likely hoping it works out because the entrepreneurial journey requires you to consistently bet on yourself, the leap is just the beginning.
ALL MY LIFE, BEEN GRINDIN' ALL MY LIFE / SACRIFICE, HUSSLE PAID THE PRICE / WANT A SLICE, GOT TO ROLL THE DICE,” — “GRINDIN’ ALL MY LIFE”, NIPSEY HUSSLE
If you want a slice of the “American Dream” you have to be willing to take risk, defined as a probability or threat of damage that is caused by external or internal vulnerabilities, and that may be avoided through preemptive action. Because if you were unaware, there are two versions of America. The first being for people who take risks and the second for those who avoid it. Reason being, America is a country of applied knowledge. A Harvard professor may know more about finance/real estate than the 18 year-old with a multi-million dollar real estate portfolio that I met a few years ago. However, the professors knowledge does not guarantee that he is financially more well off than the 18 year old.
I'm always amused when people envy successful entrepreneurs because they came up with such a simple idea that they could have thought of it too. We’ve all said it, I’m guilty as well “I could have come up with Uber”. Yes, I guess that may be true but the real question is not could I have come up with Uber but would I have been willing to create it. The gap between an idea and execution is much larger than we often think which is why most people are afraid to take the leap. When we take action, a new variable is introduced-- failure. So in order to keep our ego high and avoid the risk of potential failure, we’d rather know about it than actually do it.
Life gives us our own chips. And whether you know it or not you must place a bet somewhere. Some chose to bet on themselves while others rather bet on the institution/system. Reaping the full benefits and the later splitting the profits. Although no specific one is better or worse, I often find people want the comfort of playing it safe but the rewards of those who take risk.
“SPOKE SOME THINGS INTO THE UNIVERSE AND THEY APPEARED / I SAY IT'S WORTH IT, I WON'T SAY IT'S FAIR / FIND YOUR PURPOSE OR YOU WASTIN' AIR” — “VICTORY LAP”, NIPSEY HUSSLE
This past year I’ve seen in my own life how you can speak things into existence. On January 3rd I tweeted “I’m taking that leap this year.” In that moment I had no idea how it was going to happen. In fact, at that time I was not even concerned about real estate I was focused on getting that Crypto bag. However, despite the complete reset of the crypto market here I am at the end of 2018 living the manifestation of what I said.
Moreover, I do want to add that speaking into existence does not mean speaking without action. Although I did not realize it until recently, what led me to be able to take the leap was not the tweet because a few days later I also tweeted “I’m paying off my student loans in 2018” and it didn’t happen. What got me to this point was some planning and action. I re-learned wholesaling, got my LLC, marketed to find deals, etc. And through planning and action my reality changed. Our job is to create a plan/take action towards that plan while remaining open to the process and timing that it will take to achieve the goal.
The second line, “I say it's worth it, I won't say it's fair” really resonated with me because it’s the hard truth of my own journey. I took the leap but it wasn’t a bunch of roses. On my first deal $14,000 of my fee, well over half, was taken out of my payment. I was one week away from being unemployed and I had just lost $14,000. Money that I desperately needed to hold me down until my next deal which I anticipated would come a lot quicker than 102 days and would be more financial fruitful than the first deal. But it didn’t and it wasn’t. So daily I’m faced with the choice, keep pursuing my purpose or live outside of it, which according to Nipsey means I’m wasting air.
I know Instagram or twitter may create a perception that my life is a sweet as a bouquet of rose but as the great Andre 3000 once said, “lean a little bit closer, see that roses really smell like poo-poo-oo” This journey has been far from a cake walk. It has stretched me in ways that I could only imagine and it required more of me than anything I’ve ever done before. But despite all that I’ve been through, I’ll say it’s worth it.
PRESSURE ON YOUR SHOULDER, HOW YOU GON' DEAL WITH IT? / SAY IT'S ALL UNCOMFORTABLE WHEN YOU TRANSITION / BUT IT'S ALL BEAUTIFUL WHEN YOU GET RICH IN IT / WHEN YOU START KILLIN' S*** AND THEY ALL WITNESS IT. — “YOUNG N”, NIPSEY HUSSLE
Prior to coming home, I knew that I have multiple purposes and putting more time into BYLU / writing was one of them. And despite the pressure of needing a deal I still dedicated 2 hours in the morning to writing. I am still committed to hosting the podcast with Daniel. It would have been easy to uphold that commitment had I received the entire fee from my first deal and been making deals left and right because there wouldn’t have been an extreme sense of urgency to make money.
However, I had to be tested to see if I could remain consistent with the other purposes I had despite the urgency to make money. Could I still write and podcast when I should be chasing a check? If there is anything that I’ve learned over the course of these 4 months it is that no matter rain or shine, good or bad, stick to your purpose / what you’ve been called to do. Don’t let the short term financial needs cause you to go astray, but rather be consistent in ALL of your gifts.
Nevertheless, what a year 2018 has been. I’ve had my wins & my losses, my high moments & my low moments, my days of smiling/laughter and days where I shed some tears but I still stand here today, grateful and blessed. Thank you all for supporting us for another year. We look forward to bringing you all new and better content, both on the blog and podcast. Thank you, I love you, Happy New Year!