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5 Life Lessons We Can All Learn From Prince

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what can we learn from prince

Prince is dead. We’ve now had some time to let it settle in, but that really does little to take the sting out of those words, for with his untimely death (he was only 57) a great legend has passed from us.

You know what’s amazing? So few people actually know how important he was to music. Admittedly, that was to an extent Prince’s own choice as later in his life he rejected the internet and all that went with it.

He had his music taken off numerous streaming platforms, for he refused a system where profit came before art and the artist. He predicted to the Mirror in 2010, “The internet’s completely over. I don’t see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else.

They won’t pay me an advance for it and then they get angry when they can’t get it. The internet’s like MTV. At one time MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated. Anyway, all these computers and digital gadgets are no good. They just fill your head with numbers and that can’t be good for you.”

And though announcements of the internet’s death might have been a bit premature, he was willing to put his money where his mouth is, is something we can all respect and do more of.

Here are 5 life lessons we can learn from Prince:

1. Be true to yourself

Prince made sure his music could never get boxed into one niche or one genre, so that he would never be defined as anything but himself. “I’m not the president of a record company.” He told Mojo in 1998, “I don’t want to be the CEO of anything. No titles. The minute you’ve accepted a title you’re a slave to it.”

We can take a page from his book in that regard, because of late it’s become ever clearer that instead of discovering and establishing our own individuality, we seem to think we can purchase it from the rack. And that is a truly frightful proposition. You cannot buy individuality or character. You can only get it by fighting your inner demons and the outer critics. And Prince came out victorious in both regards.

“Despite everything, no one can dictate who you are to other people.” – Prince

2. A strong spirit transcends the rules

Instead, he believed that we should strive to be different, to be more than the system will let us be. He was both and there were few in the music industry who were stronger than he. In his 35 year career, he produced a mind-boggling 39 albums, while never getting boring, never getting old either as an artist or as a person. And yes he had his weaker moments, but that’s okay, as that’s how we learn.

And yes, he had his problems, which meant not everybody liked him. He was often divisive and had, by his own admission, a bit of an ego problem. But perhaps it was that ego that let him be who he was.

“Why does everyone think I’m mad?” he once reputedly asked a PR agent, “Because you do weird things and you don’t explain them,” was the answer. “But why should you explain things? Isn’t it the truly strong person who can do what they like without feeling the need to explain themselves?”

So get off your Facebook, get off your twitter and your Instagram. Don’t live life for other people, live it for yourself, like Prince did.

 

3. Practice and perfection

Of course not everybody can pull that off. If you’re just ego with nothing to back it up you’re not going to get very far. He was not anything but just ego, however. Instead, he was incredible at what he did. And that didn’t just come to him either. He worked very hard to be that good, being intensely devoted to his craft. In fact, on his first five albums Prince played nearly every instrument, most of which were self-taught. That’s both an ode to non-formal education and to his incredible ability, unmatched by almost all other artists.  

I myself discovered the need to excel only later in life. For many years I believed I was entitled to a good life. Only when that did not materialize on its own did I realize that you can’t just sit around and wait for things to happen – you have to go out there and take it by being better than everybody else. I just wish I’d realized that sooner.

 

4. Ignore the naysayers

“There’s nothing a critic can tell me that I can learn from. If they were musicians, maybe. But I hate reading about what some guy sitting at a desk thinks about me.” Prince told the Rolling Stones magazine in 1990.

He’s right, of course, because the guys behind the desk have it easy. They are backseat drivers who can sit on the sidelines and shout ‘boo’ at you when you fail. To go out there and perform, on the other hand, to thrust yourself into the limelight and give it everything, that takes guts and courage, both of which he had and both of which we could use more of.

So do what Prince did. Ignore the naysayers. Ignore those that snipe at your failures, but don’t call when you succeed. They’re dragging you down because they don’t have the courage to pull themselves up. You’ve got nothing to learn from them and everything to gain by ignoring them.  

“Compassion is an action word with no boundaries.” – Prince

5. Build character

If you’d have to sum him up, you’d have to use the word ‘character’. Yes, he was a character, but that’s not what I mean. I mean he had character and even if he was slightly insane (there were times when his former girlfriend couldn’t look at the staff and they could not look at her, while he made her call him ‘Messiah’) he left an indelible impression upon the world – an impression that added, that made the world greater, that left more behind than it took.

And that is an ambition we should all strive for. For if we all added more than we took how great this world would be. And we can certainly all agree that he did that. Now obviously, we don’t all have it in us to add 39 albums in a lifetime, but we don’t need to. We just need to put more in than we take out. And that is something we can all do.

What have you personally learned from Prince? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below!
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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Musah Abdulai

    May 31, 2016 at 8:05 pm

    great one there .Keep it up

  2. Fred

    May 31, 2016 at 12:05 am

    Prince was anything but boring … his success is something many can learn from!

  3. Tim Denning

    May 30, 2016 at 6:47 pm

    Benedict thank you for writing this article. Prince is one of my all time favourite musicians. The reason we all know him so well is that there was no one else like him. He was uniquely him and he wasn’t afraid to be a bit out there. I was lucky enough to see him on his Australian trip a while back and it was something to remember. The passion he had for his art form just poured out of him. Thanks again for your article.

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3 Simple Hacks That Can Recharge Your Willpower and Help You Perform Better at Work

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How many times did you wake up feeling like you could conquer the world? You set ambitious goals for the day, you put on your best attire and walked out the door with a big smile on your face but eventually, life took over. Traffic, emails, work, family, and everything else you have around slowly but steadily started to drain your energy and made you feel exhausted.

You run out of battery, and the only solution that seemed viable was to rely on more caffeine. When that stopped working, all the temptations around you started to look much more appealing, and that sense of drive and commitment you had before slowly faded away. This is you running out of willpower.

Willpower: what is it? Why is it limited?

The American Psychology Association describes willpower as “the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.” In the book “The Willpower Instinct”, Dr. Kelly McGonigal, explains how every person’s willpower is limited, and slowly depletes throughout the day. The more “willpower challenges” you face, the quicker your reserve drains. Dr. McGonigal divided the different types of willpower challenges you might encounter in three categories:

  • I will: We face this type of challenge whenever we should do something, but we simply don’t feel like getting it done right now.
  • I won’t: We face this challenge when we try to resist temptation, or we try to keep cool in stressful situations.
  • I want: This is a particular type of challenge where we keep track of our long term goals, dreams, and desires. In this instance, we feel like we should take action right now to come one step closer to the goal. 

It’s easy to recognize it when you face a willpower challenge because you literally “feel it in your body.” Imagine being really hungry and walking in front of a bakery. The sight and the smell of pastries quickly triggers an “I won’t” type of challenge, and it takes a severe amount of effort and energy to walk away.

Every time you manage to win one of those challenges, a little bit of your willpower reserve gets used. The more challenges you face daily, the harder it will be to stay true to your goals.

Can you train or recharge your willpower?

A growing body of research suggests that willpower should be considered a muscle. To strengthen it, you should exercise it regularly, but you should not overwork it. Therefore, we shouldn’t try to “be good” at all times. Instead, we should learn how to relax and recharge our willpower.

The general advice on how to improve willpower involves sleep, proper nutrition, and regular exercise. This broad and general recommendation is often not downright applicable by most, because it consists of changing various daily habits. Luckily, three very effective hacks have been discovered, that have an immediate effect on our willpower and take just a few minutes to apply.

Here are the 3 ways to refill your willpower reserves:

1. Focused breathing

Breathing, when done correctly, can stimulate the release of calming hormones while reducing the release of stress hormones like cortisol and catecholamines. To make this effective, you should deeply and slowly inhale through the nose for at least five seconds. Fill your belly with air first, then your chest, and when there’s no more space for air, still try to do tiny inhalations through the nose.

You should feel a pulling sensation around your neck and trapezius muscles. Once your lungs are full, try to hold the breath for five seconds, then slowly exhale through the mouth for at least five seconds. If you repeat this process ten to twenty times, you should feel dramatically more relaxed. Use this method several times a day, especially when you’re experiencing high levels of stress or anxiety.

2. Reward yourself when you accomplish a micro goal

According to a recent study, frequent instant rewards can boost motivation, and therefore, willpower. Creating your own reward system can help you to accomplish your to-do list, and also resist temptations. Since every individual has different tastes, you should come up with creative ideas about the small and frequent rewards you will give yourself upon winning any willpower challenge.

You can see this hack in practice in Apps like the popular Duolinguo, where after completing each lesson you get presented with a chance to open a treasure chest. This rewarding system seems to keep the users much more likely to keep learning new lessons.

3. Taking cold showers

Your body has an autonomic response to cold water. Getting into a cold shower is a difficult (but minor) willpower challenge on its own. As I previously mentioned, winning a willpower challenge strengthens your willpower muscle. Having a morning cold shower, on top of having multiple health benefits, will set you up for a positive winning streak of further challenges.

High performance is the sum of many small habits. Successful people don’t have an unlimited reserve of willpower, but they do have a set of daily rituals that made them succeed. These three hacks are some of the most effective techniques to develop willpower, but some of them may not fit every individual. You should try to find the perfect mix of daily practices that best fits your lifestyle and likes, so that you can strengthen your willpower muscle and perform better at work.

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