"THERE'S ALWAYS AN EXTRA LEVEL YOU DON'T KNOW ABOUT."
This is my favorite Jay-Z quote of all time.
On the surface, it's nothing special, but context is everything.
It's something that Jay recalls from the first time he met the multi-billionaire owner of the Nets, Mikhail Prokhorov at the Four Seasons hotel in New York City. Something happened at that meeting that made Jay-Z realize there was always going to be a 'next level'.
"I'd been staying there for 10 years, and I always thought I was at the top level," Jay-Z said. "But when I met Prokhorov, they took me up to this extra, extra room that I had never even heard of before. Now there's something else to shoot for. There's always an extra level you don't know about."
I first heard this story about 8 years ago and it has always stuck with me...
Because it's something that I've always found to be true: There is ALWAYS an extra level you don't know about.
You see, for many of us, the desire to win or "uplevel" has been a motivator even from a very young age. Whether avoiding being the last one so you don't have to be the rotten egg or fighting tooth and nail to get Park Place in Monopoly, we are bred to win. It's understandable; those who "win" often have better opportunities, and ultimately get what they want by winning. At least that's how it looks from the outside or for the short period of time we're following their story.
For so long I have lived my life by trying to get to that "extra level" thinking that was going to finally make me happy. And it would... for about 30 minutes. And then I would be on to the next task on my list.
Because there is always another task to check off, always another goal to chase after and always another level to reach for. And I've spoken to dozens of others from all levels of success who felt the same.
So when I first heard this story, it was almost "freeing" to know that Jay-Z, one of the most famous men in the world, at the top of his game, known around the world, super-rich with access to just about everything...
There was still "an extra level" that he didn't know about.
And that's okay.
Because if we're just trying to always "win" or have the most money/fame/things ... there's inevitably going to be a time when you come across someone who has "more" of at least one of them.
So it's not about that.
It's about initiating -- continually creating situations that force you to become more than you currently are. Purging yourself of all your imperfections. Evolving.
It's knowing success will come because you know who you are and what you stand for.
Becoming the best is about never being satisfied with what you've done. It's about continually improving who you are.
For me... my goal each day is simple:
Strive for more. Be happy with what I have.
When I can remember that and stay in an "attitude of gratitude" -- life is so much easier and more beautiful.
This is your journey and only yours. Enjoy the ride.