Updated: Jan 15, 2020
By Dr. Christine Izuakor
On March 31st 2019, the world lost a legend. People across the globe, some who knew Nipsey Hussle well and many who never met him, continue to mourn the devastating loss, myself included. Based on the world’s reaction, it’s evident that he left a lasting impression on many. He lived with purpose. He lived with integrity. He lived to support others. While he inspired millions during his time here, it’s not over. His spirit lives on.
His brand is The Marathon, a race that continues. I’m committing to doing all that I can to take the baton and run my leg of the race to further spread his message and wisdom. With this in mind, I began to reflect on many of his lessons and how they apply in different areas of life. Here are ten quotes from The Great Nipsey Hussle that, no matter where you are in life can help you level up.
1. “If you look at the people in your circle and don’t get inspired, then you don’t have a circle. You have a cage.” – Nipsey Hussle, The Great
This is such a powerful statement. Smart people surround themselves with people who are even smarter, more ambitious, and more accomplished than they are. Doing so breeds an environment of continuous, growth, inspiration and elevation. Otherwise to Nipsey’s point, you may end up stuck. I’ve had many friends during my lifetime. As I continued to level up, some friends chose to remain in the cage and some friends chose growth. Those who chose growth inspired me, and are still in my circle today. This also doesn’t mean those who chose the cage were wrong or abruptly cut off. We simply had different priorities and I found that a natural distance developed. No love lost, but much growth gained.
I also learned that if I am not confident in myself, it can be intimidating to be around so many people who are doing epic things. If I was ever intimidated or threatened instead of inspired by people around me, I stopped quickly and asked myself why. I struggled with this A LOT early in my career. I found that there was insecurity behind it. Any intimidation or jealousy was out of my own internal struggle with self-worth, self-doubt, and the damning quest for external validation. Once I identified these things, I could work on it and grow.
2. “Instead of trying to build a brick wall, lay a brick every day. Eventually, you’ll look up and you’ll have a brick wall.” – Nipsey Hussle, The Great
We often publicize our wins and keep the struggle filled portion of the journey hidden. Social media has been great at showing us the end product and perfect ending, without sharing the often slow and taxing path to get there. It makes some people question why things aren’t happening quickly for them – especially when it comes to making more money, getting better jobs, finishing school, and more. From Nip, I learn that whether in my career, relationships, or any other areas of life…consistency wins. I’m reminded to take it one day at a time, one move at a time, one goal at a time, steadily. Epic things usually don’t happen overnight, but with this constant bricklaying and patience, slowly but surely I’ll get where I am going.
3. “Most important thing to get rid of is doubt. If you got doubt in what you’re doing it’s not going to work”. – Nipsey Hussle, The Great
I struggled with self-doubt quite a bit in my life. I felt I wasn’t pretty enough or smart enough to succeed. Those doubts had a positive and negative impact on me. I worked hard to educated myself so that I felt “smart enough,” I embarked on a successful weight loss journey, and more. However, I also had to realize that with our without those things, as a human being, I am enough. I don’t need to overcompensate for things I feel that I am lacking. The answer all along was to simply understand myself, love myself, and be okay with being me.
4. “I just believe in ownership. I believe in investing in yourself – your foundation should be strong.” – Nipsey Hussle, The Great
The most successful people in life are eternal students and lifelong learners. I know I will never reach a point in life where I know everything, but I take ownership of learning as much as I can in life. Therefore, investing in myself and my continuous evolution has become a critical key to success for me. This isn’t just about degrees and books. My self-awareness efforts and ownership of who I am as a person has helped me set a solid foundation for greater contribution to the world.
5. “Some times you have to take two steps backward to take two steps forward.” – Nipsey Hussle, The Great
Some people don’t like to hear this one, myself included. I am all about progression. One of my mottos has always been “only up!”. However, this wisdom from Nipsey couldn’t be more real. We are going to get knocked down; we are going to get pushed back; we are going to have to start over sometimes or rebuild. From my experience, I’ve always come out stronger, and eventually, all of the setbacks begin to make sense. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I walk in faith knowing that while I can’t see ten steps ahead, my God can. He guides my moves today, in accordance with a vision he sees that I can’t yet.
6. “Luck is just being prepared at all times, so when the door opens you’re ready.” – Nipsey Hussle, The Great
I don’t believe in or rely on luck. I believe in making deliberate moves and walking with intention. I do all that I can to be prepared for what’s coming next. Whether it’s a career goal or mission in another area of life – I can only blame myself if the opportunity I’ve wanted presents itself and I am not ready to take it. This has happened to me once and is probably one of the most frustrating moments in my entire career. I had no one to blame but myself for not being ready. Stay ready, so you don’t ever have to get ready.
7. “I’m focusing on music, but I still got a cold library of books that I’ve either read of I plan on getting to.” – Nipsey Hussle, The Great
I used to say I didn’t like reading. I am ashamed to even admit that. There is so much knowledge out there – knowledge that can change the trajectory of your life. The most dangerous position you can be in is when you don’t know what you don’t know. It’s an absolute blind spot. Books cannot only help you strengthen the areas you do already know, but it can also help you discover what you don’t even know you don’t know. Think about how powerful that is…
8. “On a mission, your worst enemy is idle time.” – Nipsey Hussle, The Great
We all have the same 24 hours and how we use them is up to us. I know that I can never get the time back, and so I always cringe at the thought of wasted time. I cringe at the thought of not maximizing the time that I have on this earth. This had led me to obsess over time and is probably one of the greatest enablers to my success. I started keeping track of how much time I was spending idle on a train, in an uber, in my car, on social media, watching tv, etc. How else could I be using that time towards my mission? This helped me cut out a lot of wasted time in my schedule. A key part of this though, is having a mission that motivates you to put your time towards better things. If you don’t have a mission, it’s easy to squander time unintentionally. So, if you don’t have a personal mission start there.
9. “And it’s possible to monetize your art without compromising the integrity of it for commerce.” – Nipsey Hussle, The Great
The way I view this, we are all forms of art. Our minds are art. We monetize ourselves (and our gifts) by working for and contributing to our jobs, selling our skills and our content, etc. As I do that, I always have to remember my values and what I stand for. Corporate America, artist managers, agents, your family, etc. may try to change you for better sales. Yes, I included family in this because your family can try to change you out too. For example, parents forcing their children into a familiar career path, telling them who to marry, teaching them to put cash under a mattress instead of investing money – family can compromise your integrity if you let them. I’ve always tried to remain true to who I am and know the difference between adapting to situations and fully losing myself through conformity. I know my core values and I don’t budge on those for any amount of money or acceptance at work or at home.
10. “I taught all my (people) how to fish. Some caught more than others. Some said they rather be fed. Some passed me up in the process. But at the end of it all, I know I ain’t hide the game from my people and I’m real for that. – Nipsey Hussle, The Great
This doesn’t require much explanation, it’s so real and clear. My goal in life is to inspire people to reach their full potential. I do so without fear that someone will surpass me or use my skills to “outdo” me. To fear that my lessons will empower others to surpass me, means that I don’t believe in my own potential which couldn’t be further from the truth. So, if I help you and you pass me, I’m celebrating. Congratulations on succeeding for all of us!
Long Live Nipsey Hussle, The Great