Nas’ one-minute video has been popping up on my news feed every so often and it’s one of those things that makes scrolling through social media addictive. You get content in bite-size pieces already curated by friends, acquaintances and semi-strangers on Facebook. Wait. Big oooops. Nas doesn’t like using the word acquaintance because for him, everyone’s a friend and friendship is not bound by the amount of time you spend together. You see why with that kind of open attitude alone how arresting his one-minute videos are but this particular one I saw today made me want to go to Palestine. A loud voice inside my head stopped my daydreaming and screamed, “Your family is not going to allow you to take your 8 and 5 year old sons to Palestine.”
Okay, if I can’t go to Palestine and stay in an apartment being offered by Nas to anyone who wants it for free, the second best thing I can do is find out more about Nas which led me to his TEDx talk in India where he explained how to make life go from good to great:
“The only thing to make life great is to build something that’s bigger than me, something that if I die, will continue tomorrow, the day after, the year after.”
That something could be a company or a non-profit. It could be anything. Nas thought that for him, it would be creating an app that would allow other people to create videos like him but then it bombed big time. That failed attempt led him to persist until he created a global media company of passionate content creators like himself. Don’t let flops of life stop you. Use them to nudge you closer to your goals.
The talk reminded me of our Dgroup leader, Jen’s discussion last week about legacy and how the enemy is not the bad things but the good things that get us stuck in our comfort zones, the kind of comfort zone that you need to transcend and that Nas illustrates here:
If you do something for a length of time and it makes you too complacent, it’s usually a subtle invitation to level up which would then involve an amount of discomfort, even a perceived period of destabilization. Those who have made leaps of faith can attest to the rewards but struggles are always part of the package.
Watching Nas’ TEDx talk made me think of that something I’m hoping to create and build that is bigger than me, that represents a number of converging dreams: Abot Tala. It compels me to take action despite how crazy and preposterous an idea it seems. It has gotten some degree of traction and almost a life of its own until my guide and mentor in the process prevented me from smashing my head against the wall. Now I’ve slowed down a bit and let go of my timeline on steroids.
Doubts still creep up which is why it’s good to watch Nas today to silence those doubts if yelling at them to shut up doesn’t work. “I don’t think anyone would want to pay that much for this.” “The good rentals are just too expensive!” “How on earth am I going to find a partner with resources for this?” “This might work in a developed, prosperous country like the US, but the Philippines is a different story.” On and on this downward spiral of discouragement would envelope me staring at the Excel spreadsheet, “Arrrrrgh! How can I make this work?” Even if you regard yourself as entirely of possibility, there are days and hours when it doesn’t ring true. You know it’s time to chill and talk to a friend.
Jen, our Dgroup leader read this blog and sent me a message: “I agree we all need to level up and not be stuck in complacency. But at the same time, our desire to make a difference, to improve and to have a better life should also be somehow tempered by an attitude of gratitude – or else we will never be satisfied. Ultimately, I think we need to frame all of our efforts in the grand scheme of things.”
Hearing people like Nas talk about going from good to great can be inspiring and instrumental in moving us away from “just having a good life” to one filled with a higher purpose. However, on the other side of searching and striving is contentment that’s different from complacency.
I searched for the article that appeared several times on my news feed, “What if All I Want is a Mediocre Life?” by Krista:
What if I all I want is a small, slow, simple life? What if I am most happy in the space of in between. Where calm lives. What if I am mediocre and choose to be at peace with that?
The world is such a noisy place. Loud, haranguing voices lecturing me to hustle, to improve, build, strive, yearn, acquire, compete, and grasp for more. For bigger and better. Sacrifice sleep for productivity. Strive for excellence. Go big or go home. Have a huge impact in the world. Make your life count.
But what if I just don’t have it in me. What if all the striving for excellence leaves me sad, worn out, depleted. Drained of joy. Am I simply not enough?
What if I never really amount to anything when I grow up – beyond mom and sister and wife. But these people in my primary circle of impact know they are loved and that I would choose them again, given the choice. Can this be enough?
What if I never build an orphanage in Africa but send bags of groceries to people here and there and support a couple of kids through sponsorship. What if I just offer the small gifts I have to the world and let that be enough.
Are we either Nas or Krista, or do we swing from one end to another depending on the circumstance, or can one person be both?
Read more about Abot Tala here: