YOU’RE OWED NOTHING: WHY DO PEOPLE THINK SUCCESS IS A GIVEN

architecture, buildings, business

“The world is yours, if you go get it.”


Living in the United States, you notice that so many people have this built in mind-frame that someone is supposed to pick you up and drop you into this life of success. Your parents have raised you making you think that you’re special, and everything is golden. Then you step out into the real world and realize that no one gives a damn about you. No one cares that you were the captain of the high school football team or that you belonged to a respected fraternity or sorority in college. It’s all about you against the world; your talents and work ethic up against whatever obstacle is in front of you. And that is the dilemma I am already faced with in life. But every time I think about how hard I have it, I think about my mother and grandparents generation. Or better yet, my great grandparents who never even got through high school because they had to work at a young age.

Then I remember that they grew up in Jim Crow south and there was limited opportunities because they were African Americans. But they came to the Midwest with little to nothing and raised a family. My great grandfather working in a factory and great grandmother staying at home. They both could barely read or write but they weathered the storm and made it in life. Now here I am in New York City, and people ask me, how do you live in that city. And in my mind it’s just another city to get used to because if they survived Jim Crow and Miss Dixie, I can survive NYC. And I grew up knowing you had to make something of self wherever I decided to live. I’m not where I want to be, but I am putting in the time. Laying the ground work for what hopefully can be a prosperous life down the road.

So when I hear people and their stories about their hardships they had, you just have to realize that the world just doesn’t care. Growing up for me, I was raised by a single parent not developing a relationship with my dad until my mid-twenties. But what has helped to continue to move is living in a society where you have no other choice. That on top of knowing what I wanted to do at a young age, aids me in moving on also. But you have so many who ponder over why they have been dealt a bad had, and who owes them something. And maybe that was started due to the welfare that our government gives to us. Yet I was raised with the understanding that once again, if you are not where you want to be in life, find a way to get there, or not. Because it tends to be a very binary decision. You’re either going to do something or do nothing.

In the end, you have to come to the realization of something I have learned living in New York City alone. The only person who has a stake in interest in you doing anything in this world, is you. I recently made my second short film, and couldn’t raise all the funding, but hey, I made it anyways. I adjusted the script to fit my budget I did raise. So you suck it up and deal with what comes, there’s no other way. You fall five times, get up 6. Or stay on the ground, but if you do, know that it’s on you. And if you can live with that fine, otherwise, get to work.


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POOR MAN’S HUNGER DRIVE: WHY PEOPLE FROM A CERTAIN SOCIOECONOMIC GRIND HARDER THAN OTHERS

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“A thick-skinned path to success is tough for people with soft skin.”


As a young man pursuing my career as a writer, photographer, and filmmaker; I will be going through these up and down periods in my life. But what has prepared me for that was growing up in a poor household. With everything that is a downside of life at the bottom, there is this upside. And that upside is that you have this willingness to succeed that no one else has in life. So many people who aim to succeed leave their parents house and return after college having to move back home. But there are the ones who moving back home is not an option because home is not available anymore. These are the students who take college more serious and work through school rather than indulge in a social life. They realize that there is no backup after college and must be working to attain something.

But what are some other reasons as to why the kids born into a household of substantial means don’t have the true grit as the poor. And it goes back to the adversity. When you watch professional athletes, a lot of the greats have come from these poverty stricken environments. They have all the odds stacked up against them and they fight like their lives depend on it. How many well to do kids fight like their lives depend on it? It’s because they work to succeed, but they have a support system there to aid them. When you don’t have anything, and you are put in a position where you’re forced to be better, then you may ultimately win. It has a lot to do with survival. If you took a person from the upper class and told them to hunt in the safari of Africa for food it would be harder than a homeless man not knowing where his next meal will come from.

In the end, for the reasons above are the main reasons why some people of wealth cut their children off financially. Because they want their children to know how to face adversity. What if the family fortune is lost for some reason or another. Then what you’ll have is a self-destruct kid. They have never known what it was like to hustle in life. Now they have to do something and don’t know where to start. So you must throw them out into society and make them fend for themselves. If not, then you’ll turn into an enabler and it could ultimately hurt the child in the end.


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ARTS OF THE HUSTLE: THE GRIND OF MAKING A LIVING FROM YOUR CRAFT

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“You might be starving, but you’re working toward something greater?”


The life of an artist is rough, but if you have something great, you have to keep going strong. But it’s tough when there are so many people, especially those in your age range, who are doing much more than you at the moment. Even though that’s not saying much, it’s still more than what you’re doing. But you can’t compare what you are doing to what they are doing. Your grind, your climb, your road to success is a lot different than them. And you have to embrace the journey along the way. Yet along that journey, there are some things you need to keep in mind as you are climbing toward your goals as an artist. You should always keep your day job in lieu of your craft, be prepared to sacrifice, learn to listen to those worth listening to, embrace the rough periods, put in the time & ready yourself, and know when you’re getting better.

The first bit of advice I have regarding keeping your day job is practical. Don’t just up and quite your job because you are pursuing your craft. I myself work two part-time jobs that subsidize my living while I pursue screenwriting/filmmaking. I have worked jobs ranging from retail to administrative, ushering concerts to small theatre roles. You take on every gig you can take in order to make room for you to stay working at your craft. Which also ties into the next bit of advice. You should also be prepared to sacrifice a lot along your journey. You will have to sit by and watch your enjoying their youth and building intimate relationships. Meanwhile, you’re building slowly while they live. And to add to it, there is no guarantee you’ll succeed. So you just grind away in pain, all the while you neglect aspects of your youth just to push forward in something you love.

And with so much sacrifice that comes with building your dream, you will have the nay-sayers. These are the people who will tell you to give up and quite. They’ll tell you to go and find something better else to do rather than build your dream. They will project their fears onto you because they see you doing something that they can’t accomplish. So to them you must not know what you’re doing. Because why would they be doing what they’re doing. In a very passive way they’re telling you not only are you no good, but you couldn’t possibly be better than them. And on top of the people rooting against you, there are the rough periods that will come along with the climb. These are the times of rough mental and economic obstacles. And what do I really mean by these rough obstacles? Well here is what I mean.

When you’re going through all these rough periods in life, it makes you realize certain aspects about yourself. You first realize how easy it truly is to live alone. You are afraid of being alone, but once you realize the people in your corner versus those that aren’t, it makes the times when you are doing well worth cutting people off. You also learn that along the way, you can live with a lot less than you thought you could at first. For me, I grew up in a poor household, so I thought the only way for me to be well off was to be very rich. Then I realized the real amount of money I would minimally need to make to live. Then pursuing my dream became much easier to fight for in life. And the reason why I have not lost hope is because I have been able to live off the bare necessities, but I also put the time into my work.

And putting the time in is very important. People talk about their craft, yet they barely work at doing what they say they want to do. You have to put yourself in position to make things happen to you. Put yourself in harms way and see what transpires out of the work. Then when you do get your big break, you have prepared yourself to jump right in. Like the old formula of life, opportunity + preparation = successful outcomes. And all of what I have said prior must be coupled together with an understanding of knowing when you’re getting better. Reach out to people and get feedback on your work. And don’t just ask friends and family; ask people with no real attachment so you know how people really feel. Family and friends will always cosign, yet the people will be honest. And in the end, put your soul into whatever it is you do. Even with no guarantee of success; know that you can fail and fall flat on your face but you do it anyways.


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THE HIGH COST OF NOTHING: WHY DOING SOMETHING IS WORTH MORE THAN DOING NOTHING

blackboard, board, chalk“I’m not guaranteed to succeed, so why try.”


At times you might figure, why bother trying to succeed in what it is you want to do in life. I should just get a day job and do that for life. There is no use trying to push toward something to only be let down in life. Yet if you don’t do anything with your life you will ultimately fail anyways. So why not push yourself to do well with the hopes of a successful outcome. And the main reason is that people don’t want to deal with the idea of failing. So we choose our paths in life that gives us the most safety. But safety and security is not necessarily the path that will lead to us being the best us. A safe secure life usually means lower to mid range pay and little to no time off of work.

And that is not a life so many people want, but wind-up having for themselves. And for the people that are willing to put the time into making themselves better, they generally are put into positions higher than those that don’t work at their future. And that’s another aspect of why people find it hard to work at their craft and play life safe. Putting the work into your future requires a lot of alone time to reflect and plan. Then you also have to take what you have planned and put it in motion. That’s where you see the difference between the people who can talk a good game, and those that actually go into the world and do. And the ones that do nothing, generally end up not doing anything in life. But what are some other reasons people tend to do nothing and play life safe or fail to succeed at anything.

In addition to the above reasons we choose to do nothing because of the outside influences. The people who say what you’re doing you’re not good enough. They are the ones that either don’t want you to succeed because they weren’t good enough; or they can’t bear to see anyone outshine them. So they try to knock you down to keep you from trying, and maybe succeeding at what they failed to accomplish. So with them as influences, you become in doubt, and soon give up on your ambitions. And this is when you make your fatal mistake. See, the end, it’s not about trying to impress the people around you. You are supposed to run your race in life. You also don’t want to not try out of fear of failure. Because the cost of doing something might overall be less costly than doing nothing at all.


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LOST IN A DAILY TRANCE: HOW WE WOULD RATHER DREAM THAN MAKE A MOVE ON THEM

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“A dream is nothing but a dream without plan and execution.”


The above photo is of Academy Award winning actor Jamie Foxx. The photography is from the movie Collateral where he co-starred opposite Tom Cruise. His character was a man who would drive people around in his taxi cab, and during his lunch breaks, gaze at luxury vehicles. His character had dreams of running his own car service of luxury vehicles. It would be an experience and not just a ride. That was his dream until he ran into Tom Cruise, who was a villain in the movie. Cruise’s villainous character, unlike Foxx, was a doer. And for obvious reasons he had to be because he was a hired hitman. So his career revolved around standing by his word to get the job done right. So what does all this have to do with the topic at hand? Well Tom Cruise made Foxx’s character realize something about himself.

Cruise’s character gave Foxx a big ultimatum regarding his dreams and expectations in the world. Cruise let him know that the in reality he was never going to do what he set out to done anyways. Foxx would be in a trance with day time television and then one day he’d die. Die, never accomplishing or even setting out to do what he said he wanted to do in the first place. And that is what this topic is about today, not setting out to accomplish goals. These are the dreamers, the people who would rather dream about what they want then to go get it. And like Jamie Foxx’s character who fancied himself with Mercedes Benz booklets of their latest fleet with hopes of starting his own car service, we look and gaze at the imagery. But the fear of failure keeps us from making a move. Yet we fail anyways in life when we do nothing.

Then again, it is all about fear in life? Sometimes we don’t know how to start what we want to do. For me, pursuing a writing was a little more clear than for most. I put myself in the know, and I am currently pursuing. I have been actively writing since the age of 25 years old. So now, with six years of writing under my belt, I have four more years to break into writing my screenplays, playwrights, and novels. But like I said, I have been writing, even putting together a short film and currently working on the production for my second. So putting yourself in position to work toward what you want is not a guarantee, but it is a step in the right direction. And that is the hardest part for people to stomach. Not the putting yourself into position; but more so, putting yourself in harms way to accomplish anything in life.

In the end, you don’t want to deal with the idea that you might set out to accomplish something and fail in life. But that’s part of the climb is to fail in life. You can’t attain success until you’ve stared into the eyes of failure. Because once you stare down failure the worst is behind you. Especially for those of us who had to climb to attain what we have in this world. You have no other choice but to take the road no one wants to travel. And it’s that road that makes you appreciate so much when you finally get to where you have to go.


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WHERE DO YOU GO FROM HERE: THE REALIZATION YOU’RE NO LONGER IN SCHOOL

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“I just finished, now what do I do?”


You have worked from elementary school, through middle school, and coming through high school. You worked tirelessly to plan for college, you get accepted, and get into college. You go through college, and might even go through grad school. But now that you have completed school, or at least your formidable education, what now. Today, I am seeing so many students go back to school today. But what about the students who are no longer in school? What are they to do now? You graduated over the weekend, but there is no change to your life. You’re the same person you were before graduating. There is not this new physical form your body takes on now that you have graduated. What is the first move to make? What direction should you take in life? Are you sure you still want to do what you set out to do?

And that is when life sets in; you are on your own. You were told that the key to success in life is attaining a good education. But here you are Monday morning, working your job you once had, without anything special formulating in your life. Because for starters, attaining an education is more than just going to school. There is a lot of self-education in becoming successful in a career. Going to college alone is not enough to pull yourself up in life. You have to be willing to put yourself in the know of whatever it is you’re seeking to attain. I heard hip hop artist 50 Cent make a statement about school. He said, “If everything you needed to know about business were in those textbooks, the professor wouldn’t be teaching you.” “He’d be out generating wealth himself.” Now that’s not to say that the professor hates his job. It’s aiming at understanding taking full advantage of opportunities in front of you.

Basically what I am saying is that no one is going to teach you in society how to win. Why, well there isn’t a course you can teach, nor is there a conversation you can have, that is going to make you successful. It’s about working smart, consistent, planning, preparation, a little luck, and persistence. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, years of arduous and tedious work. It’s almost as if you have to kind of toss out some of the principles you were taught in school in regards to building a career. Because since it comes from your work ethic, there are things you can’t learn in school. There should be life courses in college that expose you to real world scenarios. Scenarios like real competition, failures, success, and building. But to the university, that is your job to build your own life, they just provide you with a basic template for life.

And in the end, that is the job of the collegiate institutions. Giving you the basics of what you have in store for you in life ahead. To you, you might think to yourself, $40,000 – $50,000 per  year does not sound basic. But that in itself is futile compared to the grand scheme of what life really cost. So to all who have graduated this year and are now in the real world, good luck grinding. Because there is no life book or class for the road ahead. Put yourself in the game, and take risk. Put yourself in harms way. (figuratively speaking)


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GOING BACK HOME MIGHT NOT BE WORTH THE VISIT: HOW HATE IS DEEPER WHERE YOU’RE FROM THAN WHERE YOU LIVE NOW

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“Hey city, where is the support?”


The photo above is of my city; that’s right, my home town. The name of this small place is Racine, Wisconsin. Population 78,000; with that good ole Midwest feel. But this is not really about my small town. This topic is actually about any small town or even big city. Why, well the reason being that it’s hard to gain love and support from your home town at times. And you would think that your town or city is the happiest to see you doing well. But not necessarily so; sure you’re going to have the people who love you. But there are still so many people that don’t like you as well. I remember a former NBA basketball player by name of Caron Butler who is from our city would drive through during off season. No he still plays a role in the community, but that’s not the problem.

You see, the real problem is the people who remember what he used to be. When Caron was a youth, he found himself wrapped-up in the narcotics world. A world where at every step you could lose your life. But he managed to come out on top and land a college scholarship playing basketball at the University of Connecticut. After that, he was drafted in the first round by the Miami Heat, and was consistently showing his face in Racine, Wisconsin. Now, as a young boy in middle school, I was like, “Wow, this dude who is an All-Star came not only from my city, but grew up in my same neighborhood; and the same street. But with all the adulation came the people who show less love than the people who are out-of-towners. People from out of town respect his rise from the streets to the NBA. But the guys who didn’t make it out the streets, frowned and didn’t show love.

And that’s when it dawned on me, people that hate the most where you’re from remember a different you. But most of all, you remind them of the time they have wasted here on Earth. Your success is confirmation what they could have been. Since they didn’t want to listen, or put in the time, they now walk around angry. But you can’t be angry at anyone but yourself. Can’t blame a guy like Caron because he said to himself, “This life ain’t for me,” and removed himself from the streets. Yet it does not sink into the people’s head where you come from. When someone not from your town succeed, you can almost dismiss their grind as luck or they had something handed to them. But a guy who grew up with you hanging on the same block is impossible to ignore. And that’s when the taste of sour grapes sets into their mouths.

In the end, own up to your own mistakes in life. Don’t let life pass you by, then get angry once someone has made the appropriate adjustments to their lives. I will never understand why there is this feeling of someone’s success is someone else’s failure. I’m proud when I see people coming from nothing doing well in life. Because it could have just easily gone in the opposite direction.


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