In light of the recent passing of rapper Nipsey Hussle who was commonly known for his philanthropic work in his community, his greatest success was that he stayed and nurtured others. He wasn’t just a rapper with a title, he used his position and influence to serve his community which will forever go down in U.S. history. You may not have heard much about him or what he did before his death, but the level of impact he had said a lot about him in itself. The level of impact he had was unending. This raises the questions of what impact and legacy are you hoping to leave behind? What do you want to be remembered for? Are you moving with intention?
Growing up Nipsey was a member of the Rollin’ 60s, a Los Angeles street gang which is connected to the notorious Crip neighbourhood. Looking back at his history, what really stood out to me was the fact he didn’t allow his past to determine his fate, he became an example of what happens when leaders like himself mature and begin to become a positive force in their community.
It gives us all hope that who you were before does not define who you’re going to be tomorrow. Nipsey became a leader, entrepreneur, community activist working to empower and employ underprivileged groups through several avenues. Nipsey didn’t just rap about loving his neighbourhood, but he really showed it in a lot of ways.
Nipsey wrote for The Player’s Tribune called ‘For the Culture’, talking about a few of his projects, and why he was so passionate about giving back to his community especially those who contributed in helping him become the man he is today. “Success ain’t about winning, just like losing ain’t a sign you’re not successful. Real failure is getting knocked down and not rising again,” he wrote. “We have an obligation to pass it on, in music and how we live our lives. The work ain’t done yet.”
It’s been said that Nipsey was more of a movement than a musician. He didn’t let society’s standards paint him a different narrative of who he should be in life. He was a man with a vision, and he ran with it.
We’ve all had a different start to life, but how far you end up going is determined by you. I’ve recently been reading up on the life story of Jack ma, co-founder and executive chairman of Alibaba. What I really love about him is that he speaks from a place of humility knowing where he started from and the struggles he went through, despite not having access to the best education or resources he was still determined to make things work out for him.
He didn’t really have the qualities or characteristics of someone you’d consider being successful in such a highly competitive field. Due to his low intellectual ability he failed many times in middle and high school, it took him 4 years just to pass the entrance exams to get into college, was rejected from several job opportunities and even had a failed internet venture.
But one thing he did have was a vision. He’ll be the least likely person you would ever have imagined to be able to conceive and expand on such a vision. Alibaba is now considered to be the world’s largest retailer and e-commerce company, one of the top 10 most valuable and biggest companies in the world generating just over $231 billion in revenue in 2014. Jack ma has now been listed as one of the world’s most powerful people by Forbes and listed in second place on the annual ‘world’s 50 greatest leaders’ in 2017.
You see there’s so many success stories like this. The point isn’t about how much he made or how much he’s worth now. It just proves that yes, you may not have had the best start to life, have an incredibly high IQ, a special talent, the financial aid that you needed or access to some opportunities but that doesn’t mean you can never make it in life.
Another thing I love about Jack Ma, is his strong passion for empowering young people and investing in them because at the end of the day we are the leaders of tomorrow. I admire his character and integrity despite being at such a high position. I could literally write a whole thesis about him, but I’d definitely recommend reading more about Jack Ma and watching a few of his interviews. “Help young people. Help small guys. Because small guys will be big. Young people will have the seeds you bury in their minds, and when they grow up, they will change the world.” ~ Jack Ma
In a letter written by Barack Obama paying tribute to Nipsey, he wrote that although most people would look at the Crenshaw neighbourhood where he grew up and see only gangs, bullets, and despair, Nipsey saw potential. He saw hope. He saw a community that, even through its flaws, taught him to always keep going. This is also a word for all of us to use what may have seemed like a disadvantage to your greatness to your advantage.
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty”
Focus less on what you can’t change and more on what you can. Sometimes it’s all about shifting perspective, it starts with a change in mindset and looking at yourself in a different light.
Most of our parents who may be first generation immigrants often moved over in search for a better life, jobs or opportunities. Not being born here myself, I knew what struggles and sacrifices my parents had to go through just to keep things going. The long shift hours, the pain, rejection, financial difficulties and even the issues that come with attaining a permanent residence in a foreign country.
I didn’t have to wait for my parents to tell me to work hard, for me to realise that although my journey may be a little tougher, I needed to take ownership of my own life. This made me very resilient from an early age. I had no choice but to take advantage of every opportunity. I didn’t come to this earth just to relive the struggles they went through. There is only so much our parents can offer us, knowing they will only be here for a while longer. They may not talk so much about their struggles and may know how to hide it well. And sometimes things may not go so well, a mother’s countless prayers and sacrifice just for her child to end up being another statistic.
I hate to see young people not walking in their full potential and clothing themselves in an identity that isn’t theirs, which doesn’t exhibit the depth of greatness within them. There’s so much to us than what society paints us as.
“Most people fail in life not because they aim too high and miss, but because they aim too low and hit”
You’re not just another typical black girl/boy or another typical uni girl/boy. And no, you don’t have to conform to any stereotypes. No, you don’t need to act or look a certain way. Conforming to a particularly low standard of expectation just to feel accepted isn’t a sign of strength. It highlights your insecurities and inability to identify your own self-worth.
I want better for myself and those around me. You haven’t come to this earth to just merely go about things and be mediocre. What do you want for yourself? What do you want for your life? You see its not when life hits you that you have to start re-evaluating your life and start asking yourself these questions. “Look at where I started and look at where I’m standing/Y’all can say it’s luck, but I know that it’s planning.” ~ Nipsey Hussle
I see so many young people lost for direction, with no one to go to. Confused. Lost. Lonely. Not gonna lie it upsets me. There are so many potentials that are waiting to be unlocked but aren’t in the right environments to have their gifts nurtured, have no access to the right
support or advise. I often hear a lot of young people say they don’t know what their gifts or talents are just because they don’t see themselves having some special talent to sing, dance, create artistic pieces, or have the next revolutionary idea to build the next Facebook app.
Life is all about having an impact. Your existence here on Earth is for a purpose. It may not cause you to gain tons of accolades or a mass of wealth. In fact we may not all be destined to become millionaires, CEO’s etc but for sure we’ve been created to generate impact. Whether it’s on a global scale in our communities or within our circle.
This may seem like the toughest phase of your life and things may not always work out so well. But it’s the most important stage of your life. Your journey to self-discovery and understanding your purpose lies in those tough moments. That’s where purpose is birthed. Use it to birth out that vision. Let that vision motivate you to keep working hard and never
“Sometimes you have to take two steps back to take ten forward”
It’s now your responsibility to push yourself towards where you need to be in life. People may look at you a certain way because they may not understand your vision or why you’re the way you are. They can only see the outward, they can’t see what’s inside you neither can they see what’s ahead of you. You know what you’ve got in you.
“The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry out their dream.” ~ Les Brown
I could be here for hours sharing numerous advice and encouragements, but I’ve come to realise that it doesn’t matter how many motivational speeches or success stories you listen to, if you don’t believe in what you’ve got in you and run with that vision you’ll barely reach the full magnitude of your potential.
“If you want to win in the 21 st century you have to empower others, making sure other people are better than you. Then you will be successful.”
There’s more to this life than the fame, money and titles. We should find fulfillment in serving others whether we get something back or not. Humility starts from the heart which transcends into your service to others.
Before I end it here, if there’s one thing I want you to hold on to from this it’s; what do you want for your life? No one knows what the future may hold. Tomorrow isn’t promised. What impact and legacy are you hoping to leave behind? What do you want to be remembered for?
Rest in power to a legend.
Much love, Esther
Insta & Twitter: @esther__taiwo