Saturday, October 29, 2011

My Image Rollercoaster

My very good friend, Nicholas Hawkins, owner of the image consulting company Young Gentleman Society, has been given he unfortunate task of being my image consultant (No, I am not hollywood, just smart enough to know that my image contributes a large part to my success) for the last year. I have hired and fired him a record of 5 times over the course of one weekend (can we say "high maintenance"). Admittedly, because of my own issues.
I have so many ideas and so many concepts of how my life should be lived that conflict with each other, causing one bad ass roller coaster of personal presentation. It was difficult for me to find a balance of holding on to who I was, becoming who I want to be, and changing the things that weren't aligned with my vision. Even tho the path was turbulent, the goal was always the same; authenticity.

I decided a few years ago that I will never live life unhappy, restricted or too calculated. So as my style started to change from "barefoot island athlete" to "artistic business owner and public figure", I rebelled. Afraid that I was somehow being disingenuous from who I was. So my roller coaster with my image consultant went from "photoshoot fresh, looking like wealth" to "true artists live off the land and make clothes from the sheep I raised". Needless to say that this made it impossible for Nick to work with me.
But in retrospect, the struggle was a necessary one. It came from a good place. I just never want to portray something that I am not. The problem was that it was hard for me to accept that I am not the same person I was growing up. I am not in the same position and I am working on different goals. But I still have the same beliefs and morals, and that's what needs to be held close. I just had to get comfortable with being me and own it!

So now, Nick is back on the team for the 12th time (I'm a handful). He and his staff have the patience of saints. But this time I have learned to accept a few things. I was putting too much emphasis on what was on the exterior. Putting on a suit doesn't change that I am simple island boy. And dressing like a vagrant doesn't negate my education or my potential altitude. I had to fight my fear of becoming materialistic and accept that I am a fan of fashion. I like looking nice. I like expressing myself through my personal presentation. And fighting against that so the I can stay "real" was my biggest form of being unauthentic.
As I write this I am back home in the Virgin Islands. Now, I go to a regular local spot in a linen button up and chinos. Yes, I definitely stand out among the oversized T shirts and du-rags but I am not going to force fit myself into any group. I have ti face that I am not that guy anymore. But what I have found is that a few things happen when you present yourself, as yourself, confidently. People take notice and want to know who you are , you attract people to you on a greater level and you feel less pressure to make moral compromises.
So yes, I flew into the island with a shirt and tie on. Why not? I'm a business man (or as I say "I own some stuff!"). I like the way I am treated when I wear a tie. I like working internationally, so when I give people my business card in airports, wearing my suit rather than my flip flops, they stare, read intently, and carefully put it away to find later. but even more importantly... I just feel good!
When I go out. I like to keep it more simple and less stuffy (still stylish because I like fashion as art). I like to be comfortable because the point of going out is to relax and have fun. So the odds are finding me at a spot that has a "strict dress code" unless it's for business or a special event, is slim. Because although I like fashion, profiling (the young professional DC scene is famous for this) is not my idea of fun.
I remember my former boss, millionaire club owner Marc Barnes, making a statement to this effect, "I don't understand why people buy all these fancy clothes to go out, but look like crap when they come to work. You should look better when you are making money than when you are spending it". (Knowing him, I'm sure there were a few profanities littered throughout the statement but you get the point)
"Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." - Marianne Williamson "Our Deepest Fear"
Well now my roller coaster is slowly become a less turbulent ride. But it had to start with self acceptance, courage and confidence. Thanks for reading!

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Prove Them Wrong

It’s the preconceived notion that “It is so much easier to live wrong than it is to live right”. and that untested theory keeps so many from even trying. The bad examples are abundant and the good examples are quiet. So the deck remains apparently stacked against us. Fidelity, loyalty, honesty, and personal change is pedaled as a myth. An unattainable goal. Everyone cheats. Everyone lies. You will never change! These are all lies perpetuated by the weak minded to justify their failures. It’s in our music, it’s in our barbershop talk, it’s on the tongue of our elders, but don’t believe the hype.
Many may not know, thanks to my young innocent face(just go with me on this one), but “my previous lifestyles were quite wild”-Drizzy. But I make no apologies for it. I was young, dumb and full of.... (well you get the point). I enjoyed that period of my life and I learned a whole lot about myself thru those experiences. But there will be people who know you through different periods of your life and try to keep you there. They can not accept that you are able to transcend especially if they want to, but find themselves stuck. I see it in their faces when they ask me “so how are things going?”. I feel the sarcasm in their hearts when they ask “so you a changed man now?”. I almost always respond with a slight smile. But inside I am being motivated to prove myself thru action.
People can not conceive of you having the strength to be the person that you are. They look at their own disability to live a certain life and try to attribute their weaknesses to you. Don’t argue with such people. live the life that you set out to. live it right. And you will leave them with nothing but the reality of their weakness. Seeing you achieve what was believed to be impossible, will eliminate all their excuses and silence all of their gossip.
There are many people who want to see you fail to justify them not trying. You have to be the light in that room full of darkness.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Many of us spend hours imagining the type of life we will have in the future. We see cars drive by and claim them as ours. We see Houses on TV and talk about what we will do differently when we have our mansion. We talk about all the countries we want to visit and how we are going to be pampered when we get there. We talk about how amazing our marriage and kids will be and how much of a big deal we will be.
Reality Check: For many of us, a dream is all it’s going to be. And I believe that deep down inside we know it’s not going to be a reality. We learned as kids that it is fun to pretend. Even if it doesn’t come into fruition, at least we lived the experience in our minds.
But what about those people who just dreaming of it is simply not enough? What makes this kind of ambition a pipe dream for some but an attainable goal for others? It’s not superior genius, it’s not an advantaged birthright, it’s not an incredible talent. It’s just a resolute attitude of what they truly desire. Unlike many others, these exceptional individuals actually go for what they want with an expectation to get it.
Too many times people will look at the success of a person and dismiss it as luck or being in the right place at the right time. The dangerous effect of doing that, is that you miss the lesson of what can make you successful. You are dismissing the formula that you can apply to achieving your goals. Since you can’t force luck or coincidence, you stay doing the same things day in and day out, dreaming of your lucky break. It doesn’t work that way! When someone “makes it”, take a deeper look into their life and see what really brings lasting success.
The craziest thing to me is that people expect to have an exceptional life but live a completely ordinary existence daily. We invent things like luck and coincidence to justify living within the margins and expecting to somehow fall into the life we desire. Next time you hear people talking about what they plan to have, how they plan to live, how amazing their future is going to be... Ask them, “HOW?”! Ask them their plan to get to that next level. And I bet you see how many crazy people are out there; Expecting to get to a destination without walking in that direction.
The name of my blog is “I Choose Real Life” because I just want to tell you the truth. The media has a way of making things look easy. As if unparalleled success is just around the corner. Unless that corner is at the end of a road of tireless work and commitment, there will be nothing but more of the same things that’s in your life now around that corner.
If you want to know if you are leading a life that is going to lead to an exceptional future, just look at most of the people around you. If the way you live your life, resembles the way most of them live theirs, you are NOT on the path. If your thinking is in line with what the media pushes to the masses, you are NOT on the path. If your daily activities have no actions that are above and beyond what is required of you, you are NOT on the path. Just look at the definition of the word.
forming an exception or rare instance; unusual; extraordinary
unusually excellent; superior
By definition alone, Your life, actions and thinking can not be like most people’s. You can not just fall in line and follow the status quo. one of my favorite quotes puts it simply-“Live Like No One Else [will] So You Can Live Like No One Else [can]”- Dave Ramsey

DO you really think the current industry moguls only put in 8-9 hors of work a day, do you think people that grew from having nothing to independently wealthy was focus on buying the latest things. DO you really believe that the most talented among us didn't practice their craft hundreds of times more than the rest of us?

So next time you start talking about how exceptional your life is going to be in the future, either know how you are going to make it happen, or give the disclaimer that it’s just an empty dream that will never come true because you are not willing to work for it. You have to live an exceptional existence daily, to have an exceptional life. There are no shortcuts, just illusions.

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