One of the things successful people can run into is balancing complacency with hunger to succeed. Watching Kanye’s Netflix documentary this past week, it reminded me of the times when I came over to America for the first time with a bunch of samples and a dream. I headed to NY first and had a rundown hotel room that had a shared bathroom in the middle of winter. I used to wear a bunch of clothes to bed to keep warm. I remember I would always ask them for the ground floor because they didn’t have an elevator, and I had several suitcases of samples. It was fine with me. I just wanted to be close to the action.
Prior to that on my actual first trip to NY to kick things off, I had slept on a friend of a friend's sofa that I had never met all the way out in Yonkers and would commute into the city each day. Also fine with me because I had never been close to the city like that before. I do recall the first time I saw the Manhattan skyline looking out the window on the plane and I was buzzing, a true outer-body experience, if you will. I had finally made it to NYC. For me, back then, New York was it. I used to watch shows on MTV like Making the Band, and I would say to my mom, "That's my city." Fast forward to today, and I've now chosen Los Angeles as my city. On subsequent trips back to NY, I recall landing in the city with no money really and no place to stay and had to go to the library for internet. When you are in those moments, you can't help but dream of better days. But when you reach those better days, it's interesting how you look back on those tough times and be like, man, that was living for real.
I had a friend and mentor, Bernard Percy, who used to say to me, you're either right at the edge of the cliff (or beyond the cliff's edge) or you're moving back from the edge of the cliff. And what I got from that was you are either out of your comfort zone, ie going past the edge of the cliff, or in your comfort zone by retreating from the edge of the cliff. Success can make you take your foot off the pedal and back away from the edge of the cliff. In other words, you fall back into your comfort zone. I think personally for me, I was more hungry driving a Prius around than driving a Land Rover. This is so true that I even read in an article that Rick Owens likes to embrace discomfort by having a cold and severe environment that would force him to aspire for more, so he could be at his very best. Not even being at his level, I can totally understand where he is coming from. So much so that I recently sold up and moved out of the suburbs back downtown. With that, I have managed to cultivate that hunger and desire again and rekindle that basic purpose that drove me to move halfway across the world with nothing but a dream. And as my mentor told me, it all works out in the end, and if it hasn't worked out, it's not the end. I like that, and that is where I will leave it for this Sunday Paper.