Last night I had the pleasure of attending a lecture series featuring Grammy award-winning rap artist Common at Blanche Touhill Performing Arts Center. I have been following the success of his lecture series for quite some time and have been greatly wanting to attend (in fact, the last time that he was in my town I had to miss out due to Busy Mom duties!). I am glad to say that it was well worth the wait, for the words that he shared inspired me in several ways and in many areas of my life. I now pass the knowledge onto you in hopes that the wisdom from Common will inspire you too.
The subject matter that Common spoke about was Greatness. He used the words of a friend to define it, saying that, “Greatness is not only achieving a higher level within yourself, but also inspiring a higher level within others.” He encouraged the audience that there is greatness inside of everyone, waiting to be tapped into and to be achieved.
Common then went on to share his 3-step formula for achieving greatness in life.
First, he said you must find your path. He stated that sometimes this is not easy to do, and that it is determined by your passion. He elaborated, saying that when you are passionate about something, it resonates with you so much that when you are doing it, it doesn’t feel like work to you.
BUT: That does not mean that it will not take work for it to come into fruition.
He shared his story of playing basketball at a young age, and how his uncle taught him that greatness comes only by continuous training, practice, and hard work. He took those principles from basketball and applied them to the other areas of his life, which helped him to accomplish all that he has today. He continued by saying that mastering your path, your passions, and even your life all require a great deal of work, however the hard work does pay off.
One of the points he made that I loved most about finding your path was that your path may not stay in the same place—it may grow and evolve. However you should never be afraid to embrace it: that you owe it to yourself to explore it as it changes.
The second step in his formula for greatness is to believe in your path. He used the quote, “Belief is contagious”, which I certainly agree. He talked about the immense power in believing in yourself and suggested that it should be applied to every area of your life (family, relationships, career, etc.).
The point that he made stuck with me the most was how the very worst thing to do is to “down-play” your belief in yourself for the benefit or satisfaction of others. His exact words were: “Never dim your light just for others to feel comfortable.” He referenced a quote from Nelson Mandela to stress his point:
“You are a child of God—your playing small does not serve the world.”
In other words, the greatest demonstration of belief in yourself is to boldly shine your light for everyone to see.
Common shared the final step in his formula for greatness, which is to live your path. He stressed that living your path is an understanding that you may not achieve greatness right away, but that does not mean that you should walk away from your path. He gave his personal example of the Grammy awards in 2006—he was nominated for five Grammy awards, but did not win at all. Nevertheless, he did not let that discourage him from continuing to make music.
He also talked a great deal about how living your path is to know that you will have to go through many challenges, and they do not get any easier as you go higher in your path to greatness. But it is the challenging situations that complete you and make you stronger.
The artist, actor, author, and poet closed his lecture by encouraging the audience members to keep climbing, keep elevating, and to keep rising.
I truly enjoyed the lecture that Common gave last night. I absorbed so many valuable gems of wisdom that I plan to use in my own life to help me along my personal journey to greatness. I feel that his words are ones that can be beneficial to anyone: young or old, successful or just starting out. No matter who you are or what level in life you are on, you always need to be true to your path, believe in yourself, and live a life driven and molded by passion and purpose.