Sunday, September 16, 2012

Book Review: "Super Rich" by Russell Simmons

He got me! I saw the title, and of course assumed that much like his first book "Do You," that "Super Rich" would be an outlined guide to career, business, and self-empowement. I thought there would be lists, and details, and specific steps that would lead readers one step closer to millions.

But Russell Simmons is smarter than that. Smart enough to give his book an appealing title...but also rich enough to know that he's one of the best people to speak about what being "rich" really means.

Released in January of 2011, "Super Rich" is Russell's account of how he achieves personal satisfaction--despite his financial success, and how he feels that "inner" wealth and progress is much more liberating than any monetary figure.

Easy for the rich guy to say. In fact, he says that a few times in the book, knowing that any reader would also share the same sentiments. It's easy for the guy with millions to tell you that it's not important to have money. But at the same time...who better to tell you that than someone who has experienced it?

Wealth and success are the end goal for the majority of people. No one wants to suffer, be miserable, and broke. Of course not everyone wants the spotlight and attention that comes with being a public figure, but I'm pretty sure anyone would settle for the stacks-on-stacks-on-stacks in a heart beat.

Money is great! You can buy what you want. Go where you want. Work where you want. Eat what you want. Dress how you want. Drive what you want. Live where you want. You don't have to stress about providing for your family. What's not to like or desire about that?

To many, being "rich" and receiving these types of benefits equates to being HAPPY. But Russell carefully deconstructs these myths of attaining happiness, and through his passion for yoga, expresses how one can TRULY reach a state of richness.

Now, the book is a little big yoga-heavy. He emphasizes how important the practice of yoga is to his daily routine, and also the huge role it has placed in keeping him in a great mental space, and allowing him the energy and state of being to achieve his successes. At times it's almost like a sales pitch for the yoga lifestyle, for meditating, and for veganism and related practices.

But given that this is Russell's personal guide to gettin' rich, he makes sure that his method is outlined loud and clear. It is because of yoga and the peace and clarity it brings him, that he has been able to achieve all that he has.

Along with encouragement for meditation, he also did drop a few gems of knowledge:

Make sure your gift is an honest expression of what's in your heart. He stressed how important it was that you pursue your passions, and stay true to exactly what it is you believe you should be doing. With that honesty of purpose, you are more likely to achieve success than if you are following someone else's path for you.

He followed up by saying that "The burden of not connecting with your God-given happiness is the heaviest load you can carry in life." Great point! And I believe a lot of people experience un-happiness and financial stress because they are unable to do what they "really" want to do, and instead go through the motions in a socially acceptable line of work, or whatever opportunity they may have. He notes that a part of life's richness is making sure you connect to what genuinely makes you happy...with or without the financial compensation. Or in his words..."only do shit you believe in."

"We want to be so pure in our spirit and intentions that when we give the world our gift, we don't spend a moment worrying about when we're going to receive a response, let alone payment for it." Here he talked about having a spirit of charity, and being able to share with others and share without reservation...putting good energy into the world, and also creating a good framework for your own actions.

Dont chase the money. This was a key message throughout. While following your heart, and giving to others, by being true to yourself...the money will inevitably come, he believes. But he stressed that the money shouldn't BE the objective, but rather a product of your honest intentions.

There was a great story he told about being in a dorm room at NYU with Rick Rubin, and the memories he had in the early stages of Def Jam...the FEELING he received from those successes and milestones NEVER compared to any cheque he's received or other type of compensation. Years later, and millions richer, he made it clear that the feeling of wealth was nothing in comparison to the feeling of pure joy, accomplishment, and exercising his true passions.

That was perhaps the part of the book that stood out the most to me, mainly because I could also think of a handful of FANTASTIC memories and experiences in my life...and none of them were necessarily tied to financial gain. Sure, money is fabulous...but I truly understood his message about the difference in lasting effect. The moments will always stay with you...but the money is just...well, money. He stressed that "Def Jam's success was rooted in a conscious pursuit of happiness, not a blind pursuit of money."

"Stillness is the fertile soil in which imagination is nourished and ideas can grow to incredible heights." I really liked this quote too. The encouragement to operate out of a calm, happy, focused, and heightened space...and let go of all the issues that are holding you down.

The book was pretty spiritual, still. Again, quite unexpectedly, but definitely appreciated. He outlined the 8 steps of classical yoga, including DHARANA (concentration on one's purpose in life) and DHYANA (meditation and devotion on the Divine), and reminded his readers repeatedly to take joy in whatever you are doing and leave a great impression at whatever you are doing...which could inevitably lead to greater opportunities.

"Play your position with an unlimited supply of hustle, selflessness, dedication, relentlessness, and smiles...people will see your potential."

"Put yourself in a physical space that's going to promote your evolution...filled with consciouness and compassion."

It was an easy read, an inspiring page-turner, and while it didn't give me 101 tips to get dem did remind me that with patience, the right frame of mind, a positive and healthy spirit, and the trust and faith that life will give you exactly what you need to succeed at the right time, when you are ready...we can all be just like Uncle Rush: motivated, progressive, and most importantly...genuinely filled with joy.

What more could you ask for?

Written by Stacey Marie Robinson for Kya Publishing's "Urban Toronto Tales" blog.

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