This is a women-focused platform, right? Now I’m pro-women, so I won’t pretend that the unfortunate misogynistic way Kanye West sometimes refers to women in his music doesn’t make me squirm. Still, I can say that Kanye is one of my favourite public personalities.
Now, usually, when I tell people this, I immediately drop a bit on their respectability scale. I’m surprisingly okay with this. His creativity is the stuff of legends, and having watched him over the years, this visionary artist has given me a few good ideas about life.
“Don’t tell me about being likeable”
When this modern day philosopher appeared on The Ellen Show , he came ready to inspire. Kanye started off by lamenting the fact that so many great innovators are dead. Then he challenged the fascination people have with being ‘likeable’, as opposed to being great.
Firstly let me say; I do believe that you should be able to read your audience. Not everyday do ‘The Most’. The message is just as important as the delivery. One of my favourites, Melody Hobson calls the art of doing this ‘making yourself small to win’.
However, the way that my personality is set up…in my experience, assertive and aggressive are sometimes used interchangeably when describing women leaders. It’s an unfortunate way that my cultural context, personality, and #MotherlandMogul goals intersect.
While some celebrate assertiveness in women, others are quick to throw out labels like ‘bossy’, ‘pushy’ and others that we probably can’t put up here. Sheryl Sandberg dedicated a whole chapter in her book Lean In to the negative association between success and likeability.
Don’t let likeability be a millstone around your neck. Work on what needs to be worked on, but don’t fixate on what is outside of your control.
Continuously seek growth like Kanye
When the iconic Rockerfeller Records split, this maverick musician had to make a tough choice. Kanye had to decide whether he should continue working with either Jay-Z or Damon Dash, and he opted for the former.
Why? Simple, he chose growth. Admitting that he related more to Damon Dash than he did to Jay-Z, he decided that he would stick with Mr. Beyonce because they were so different.
I’ve learnt that comfort is the enemy of growth. Karin Sebelin says; “People who agree boost our confidence, but they don’t give us stuff to think about and to grow…We need healthy conflicts and differing perspectives to really become thoughtful and get seduced to think in a deeper way.”
Be deliberate about finding people and spaces that help you grow.
Conviction is King
This is embodied by the hook from his song ‘Can’t Tell Me Nothing’. The rebel rapper sings; “Excuse me, is you saying something? Uh-uh you can’t tell me nothing!” This line highlights what we already know; Kanye West is not someone who is easily swayed.
My journey so far has not been linear, and in order to survive periods of uncertainty I have had to learn how toxic doubt can be. I believe we all innately know the way to our own greatness. The key is trusting yourself enough to navigate toward it. Criticism and doubt from ourselves and others stifles this.
Tech Entrepreneur Rapelang Rabana shares how her journey required her to have the utmost faith in her conviction. She says; “I had made the decision to start my business despite the confusion, turbulent thoughts and emotions, not knowing what life would hold.
Now, the trust I placed in myself to chart my own path has reaped rewards I never could have conceived, all because I dared to listen to myself. Knowing the value of that choice 10 years on gave me great peace.”
Learn to reflect and celebrate
When I first heard the song ‘Last Call’ I really didn’t get why Kanye would spend over six minutes on an outro that just recounted his rise to success. SIX minutes fam?
I now realise how crucial taking a second to remember and honour your journey is.
It is about maintaining perspective: the more you are deliberate about keeping it, the more of it you will have.
Let me let Oprah say it: “The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”
What would we do without Kanye West?!