Watch the Video! "A Year of Hip-Hop Motivation" by Blake Brandes (Motivational Blog Rap #52)
One year ago, my business partner and I came up with a fun idea as we were starting our hip-hop motivational work:
What if we did a motivational blog post and recorded a rap video each week to inspire students and adults to live happier, more fulfilled lives?
We started filming in my living room with an iPhone and turning the TV into a teleprompter for me to read the lyrics while I rapped.
Watch the Video! "Scarcity" by Blake Brandes (Motivational Blog Rap #51)
When we think about the idea of scarcity, we often think of physical scarcity.
We don’t have enough food to eat. We don’t have enough money to buy the things we want. We don’t have enough natural resources to support our energy consumption.
But scarcity can also be emotional.
We don’t have enough love in our lives. We don’t have enough friends who really care about us. We don’t have enough people who understand us.
Watch the Video! "Clearing" by Blake Brandes (Motivational Blog Rap #50)
One of my personal mottos for the past decade has been: “Rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.”
This motto has often helped me in life. For example, when I was living in England, it only took one day of sun-to-crazy-rainstorm-in-30-minutes to leave me both drenched and resolved to always be prepared. Thereafter, I always carried an umbrella, even if it was a perfect sunny day. It saved me on numerous days when other people were a little too optimistic about the British climate.
Watch the Video! "All I Need" by Blake Brandes (Motivational Blog Rap #47)
I thought I was doing great during the Monday CrossFit workout.
I had just bench-pressed 125 pounds, which isn’t a lot for many people but was good progress for me.
The two guys I was lifting with felt good about going up in weight, so we put another 20 pounds on the bar.
As I lifted the bar off the rack and watched it lower toward me, I suddenly realized that I was going to need a lot more strength to get it back up.
I dug in my heels, and as I tried to use my whole body to get the bar back up, my right foot slipped.
Watch the Video! "Dreams" by Blake Brandes (Motivational Blog Rap #46)
I’m not a big fan of the phrase, “follow your dreams.”
This mantra implies that your dreams are out there wandering around, and that you just need to follow them along the road of success.
In theory, it’s not a bad idea. Keeping your focus on a long-term vision can definitely help you stay determined when roadblocks appear along your path.
But I think it can be disempowering to think of our dreams as separate from us. So I’m going to advocate a different approach: Swallow Your Dreams.
Watch the Video! "Running" by Blake Brandes (Motivational Blog Rap #45)
In the leadership development course, Creating Lasting Change, Tony Robbins describes 4 classes of experience:
Class 1 Experience:
- Feels good
- Is good for you
- Is good for others
- Serves the greater good
Example: Doing meditation that helps you be more calm, focused, and productive throughout the day.
Watch the Video! "Slow Motion" by Blake Brandes (Motivational Blog Rap #44)
I read too many business books.
Don’t get me wrong – I love learning strategies, ideas and techniques for creating value for people. I also love understanding how to run and market a successful business.
But I know I’ve been reading too many of these books because I feel like I always have to have a well-developed, perfect plan in place before I start doing anything.
And as you might guess, that’s a perfect recipe for paralysis.
Watch the Video! "Shadow Of Death" by Blake Brandes (Motivational Blog Rap #43)
My mother recently commented that I seem to talk and think about death often.
When Biggie said, "I'm ready to die," he did so as an aggressive declaration of confidence. Being ready for death can release fear: fear of an afterlife, fear of judgment, and fear of threats or danger.
In movies, a protagonist who has suffered extreme loss often clenches his or her jaw and grimly declares: "I have nothing left to lose." Then large weapons emerge and retaliation ensues.
Watch the Video! "Go To The Balcony" by Blake Brandes (Motivational Blog Rap #42)
Fight or flight. A flash of anger when we run into a table. Wincing when we hear a baby screaming behind us on an airplane. The rush of adrenaline when we barely miss being hit by a car.
Humans are reaction machines. Our entire biology is structured to respond to our environment. Our body temperature raises or lowers depending on the external temperature or internal infection. Our irises enlarge or contract depending on how much light enters our eyes. Our metabolism slows down or speeds up depending on how much energy is available to it.
Watch the Video! "Jump The Curve" by Blake Brandes (Motivational Blog Rap #41)
A few weeks ago, I was feeling stuck.
Stuck in the same thought patterns.
Stuck in the same routine.
Stuck with the same results.
The irony is that I didn't realize I was stuck until I broke out of the rut.
Watch the Video! "Expectations" by Blake Brandes (Motivational Blog Rap #40)
It can be easy to feel frustrated by a host of things, big and small, that happen or don't happen every day.
Someone cuts you off in traffic.
A slow person blocks the aisle in the grocery store.
A baby near you won't stop screaming.
A rainstorm interrupts your vacation.
Watch the Video! "Stand Up" by Blake Brandes (Motivational Blog Rap #39)
When I feel stressed or dread working on something, my brain has a default solution: scroll my Facebook timeline. I think I'm going to spend 30 seconds checking updates, but sometimes 30 minutes will pass before I realize I've been sucked into the internet vortex.
Watch the Video! "Never Stop The Grind" by Blake Brandes (Motivational Blog Rap #38)
Sometimes people ask me how I can just freestyle rap in front of any audience. They say things like, “I’d never have the courage/confidence/craziness to trust myself to make up a rhyme on the spot that wasn’t terrible.”
The reality is that I don’t think I have a lot of courage either. I’ve just changed the question I ask myself before I start to rap.
Watch the Video! "What If" by Blake Brandes (Motivational Blog Rap #37)
I woke up on Friday to a wonderful surprise: incredibly talented photographer and my dear friend, Joe Martinez, was featured in the New Yorker’s article on the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella.
But then I had an even bigger surprise when I looked at Joe’s Twitter feed.
Watch the Video! "Alone" by Blake Brandes (Motivational Blog Rap #36)
I occasionally do private tutoring and scholarship coaching, and one of my students recently shared an observation with me that blew my mind. This student is an adult who teaches parolees math so that they can receive a GED and put their lives back together.
I asked him, "What is the biggest factor that determines whether a parolee will violate parole and end up back in jail?"
I thought he was going to say, "a job" or "stable housing" or "getting a GED." But he simply said, "Community. If they have people in their lives who love them and give them something to live for, they are more likely to stay out of jail."
Watch the Video! "Redefine Failure" by Blake Brandes (Motivational Blog Rap #35)
In my motivational assembly presentations, I talk about how we often interpret failure to mean, "I'm bad at something," or "I'm a failure," or "I'll never be good at this."
But what if we look at failure as information, not judgment? What if we interpret failure to mean, "This is where I need more practice to excel at this"?
It's hard to internalize that message. So much of our schooling is defined by the avoidance of failure, because it inevitably is accompanied by shame, criticism, and punishment.
Watch the Video! "Defenses" by Blake Brandes (Motivational Blog Rap #34)
When I was 15, I told my friend that I liked a girl in my class.
By that afternoon, the whole school knew about it.
Feeling humiliated, I made a decision: Never tell anyone something that you don’t want repeated to everyone you know.
As I’ve been reading Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly, I’ve been thinking about how and why we develop defense mechanisms.
Watch the Video! "Radar" by Blake Brandes (Motivational Blog Rap #33)
The reality is that most people think about themselves most of the time. At best, we are often a blip on their radar screen before they turn their attention to something or someone else.
This could be really depressing. We could say, "Wow, everyone is so focused on themselves. No one cares about me."
But what if being a blip on everyone's radar screen was actually freeing?
Watch the Video! "Holla Back" by Blake Brandes (Motivational Blog Rap #32)
Have you ever had a flight delayed and had no idea when you would leave?
Have you ever felt the slow, grueling wait of sitting on a subway platform with no clue when the next train will arrive?
Have you ever been in the doctor’s office with no indication of when you’ll be called?
The problem with these situations isn’t the wait; it’s the uncertainty.
Watch the Video! "Career" by Blake Brandes (Motivational Blog Rap #29)
I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up… at the age of 22.
When I was little, I loved Legos and thought about being an architect.
I loved books and poetry and thought about being a teacher.
I loved helping people and thought about starting an NGO.
But once senior year of college hit, I was faced with the vast expanse of the unknown.