Sister Souljah. Omar Tyree. Iyanla Vanzant. John Singleton. Eckhart Tolle. Terry McMillan. These are the handful of writers who have influenced me through their words over the years. Influenced me in my decisions and ideologies, my passions, and my goals. After reading "How to Get Out of Your Own Way" I can now add Tyrese Gibson to this list.
It didn't take me long to read this book. In fact, in less than a day, I was engrossed in his words from start to finish, and closed that book with a literary satisfaction I haven't experienced in a while. The satisfaction of reading GOOD writing. The satisfaction of LEARNING something new and knowing that the application of the lessons would make a significant contribution to my personal and professional life. The satisfaction of turning pages mechanically and eagerly, and taking in each and every sentence...straight to my soul.
This is the joy of reading that every writer enjoys! The essence of publishing that is refreshing! Reading this book was the motivation I needed at this exact moment in time, and the perfect message of enlightenment and artistic expression that my spirit craved.
It's no secret that I'm a Tyrese fan. I've long admired his music, his modeling, his acting, and spirit of creativity.
I stood at Beyonce's inaugural solo concert in June 2003 in Detroit, as a young journalist, and watched Tyrese perform from about 2 feet away in the photographer's pit. I remember being captivated by the essence of the moment: Ford Motor Company's 100th anniversary celebration. I was still a student at Wayne State University, and still full of passion and excitement for the future. I remember that being a defining moment in my writing career because I felt like I was doing EXACTLY what I loved...I was enjoying music, and I was going to have the opportunity to write about it, and share it with others. I remember that Tyrese was a part of that life-changing experience.
It's been almost 10 years, and not much has changed as far as my ambitions and personal goals. I still love the arts, and I still require the tangible energy of music and entertainment to fuel my writing.
"How to Get Out of Your Own Way" was released in 2011, and I finally had the opportunity to take it in...and this book spoke to me. It was effective. It was inspirational. It was necessary!
Tyrese has been in the industry for over 15 years...across the spectrum. So writing a book could have been an exercise in telling his life's story, and using the biography as a means to let people know about his life. But it was much more than that. While there were elements of biography, and you definitely learn a lot about his experience through reading this book, there still exists a level of teaching, of sharing, and compassion through his words.
You can sense his need to reach out to his supporters in everything he does. He's an active Twitter griot, who uses every opportunity to not only promote his own work, but to share the wisdom and gems that he learns along the way. With video blogs, phone recordings, interviews, and writings....you can tell that Tyrese is on a mission to be someone in your life that has learned a great deal, and is dedicated to sharing this.
You can tell that he doesn't forget where he came from, and who he was while growing up in Watts, in Southern California, but that he's also determined to remind his readers that success, fame, opportunity, power, and influence are all attainable with the right mentality and the right spirit.
So this book is not only a testament to how the power of positive thinking, spirtual grace, and a steadfast work ethic have helped him, but also how this positive energy can transcend circumstance, and manifest in your life as long as you wish it to.
His message included a consistent theme of self-love and self-empowerment, through statements like:
*Experience is your highest truth...only you can define your own truth...
*You will grow through what you go through...
*You are responsible for where you are in your life...you have to create the reality you want...
*Love yourself enough to keep on doing what you're doing to get to the next level...
*Stay away from people's problems...
At the essence of his message was "you create the reality you want for yourself." He spoke this loud and clear. Through example. Through testimony. Through encouragement.
He does this so dilligently, and anyone that follows his career and confessions will see that while he knows he has attained a great level of success for himself, that he is truly dedicated to letting YOU know that it's possible. That with the right energy and the right environment, that reaching your own personal paradise is more than possible.
Sometimes that's all you need to hear. Sometimes you KNOW this deep down, but you have a hard time truly recognizing the power of your own mind. Sometimes it's common sense, and it's logical thinking...but sometimes so many of us fail to apply this message to our own lives. We know that we should be working hard, or distancing ourselves from particular people and situations...but yet we still don't quite move past that level, and on to a higher one.
Tyrese made sure that this message was reinforced, and I believe that it spoke to me so emphatically because I could feel that it was coming from a place of genuine concern, and divine obligation to take care of his brothers and sisters. Even if from a distance. Even if through mass communication. It felt authentic, and it felt personalized.
Take control of your identity. Take responsibility for the type of life you choose to live. Be careful of who has emotional access to you.
There was a good portion of the book also dedicated to "mars and venus"-type advice, where he broke it down...bredren to bredren, and was real upfront about relationships, expectations, and the importance of securing your identity to ensure that you handle relationships successfully.
At the core of this message was the TRUTH: being honest with yourself, and with others. Being comfortable with yourself, and standing firm in yourself so that others can't influence your direction.
He encouraged readers to always stay in a positive frame of mind to be able to transform your thoughts into a physical reality. He reminded readers to stay organized, and always be prepared to execute your dreams. Don't let your ideas die because of circumstances you fell into based on your own choices, he said.
I said it in January when I wrote Tyrese Gibson: The Next Pop Prophet (Part 1), that Mr. Gibson was a prophet on the rise, speaking by divine inspiration, gifted with moral insight and powers of expression.
I repeated these sentiments when I wrote Tyrese Gibson: If "Open Invitation" Was a Movie (Part 2), that his music inspired dialogue and motivated creativity.
I'll say it again, that this man is on to something. Yes, he's out there doing the Hollywood thing, acting in blockbuster movies and stuff, going on tour, making women swoon, driving Bentley's and travelling the world, partying like a rock star. He's doing it, because he's earned it.
I figure it's a God-given privilege to be in a position of influence. Whether you're a professional athlete, an actor, a musician, dancer, writer, or a university professor. When you're in a position to speak and connect with an abundance of people...that is a privilege and a gift.
Now it only becomes a gift if you do something with it. Some singers and performers choose to be quiet, to do their job, and stay under the media radar...and there's also nothing wrong with that. We all choose to live to our own comfort level, and can only act upon what we are called to do, and passionate about.
But I remain inspired by those who have the power and ability to ignite change, to inspire action, and to bring clarity to situations just through their own personal testament. When the words of Sister Souljah, and the others I mentioned previously, spoke to me...it was on a variety of levels. Sometimes it was literally moving me to tears, or to laughter, or to other emotions through the power of their story telling. Some inspired me through their personal stories, and this is how they connected with me, and pushed me to pursue my own writing dreams. Some, like Iyanla, challenged me to change the schematics of my mind, question my actions, and make adjustments accordingly.
Tyrese's book "How to Get Out of Your Own Way" has now made it onto my list of influential texts because his life outside of these pages is proving to be on a continuous incline to do just that: motivate others.
I'm grateful that I was blessed with the emotion that was put into these pages. And with this emotion, I will translate the lessons and passion into my own truth: the words will transcend this moment, and remain a part of my conscious. For I didn't just read this book...I am also going to actively apply it. That is what I believe Tyrese's intention was, and that is why I believe this book is so phenomenal.
That is all any writer truly hopes for. A lasting impression through the power of their art.
Written by Stacey Marie Robinson for Kya Publishing's "Urban Toronto Tales" blog.
Tyrese's next book "Manology" co-authored by Rev Run, will be released in February of 2013.