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The Real Slim Shady: Do What He Did, Not What He Says

I was told a while ago that focusing my articles on famous artists was not a great idea, if my goal is to push people to achieve their potential. The argument was that these artists have a gift that most of us were not blessed with; and therefore they are not relatable subjects. However, even if talents vary a lot between individuals, what we do with it and how we take advantage of it are constants. So whether you look at a politician, an entrepreneur or an entertainer, you can always learn from their stories and their journey towards success. And success is, with no doubt, something that Eminem has achieved over the course of his career. While many people would think that he is not the best role model out here, Eminem’s story (good and bad aspects considered) gives us really relevant life lessons that could potentially give us some indications on what to do and what not to do as we climb the ladder of success.

You will have to face adversity; be prepared to deal with it

If the road to success was free of obstacles, it would be an easy and eventless journey for everyone. (Un)fortunately, it is not and you have to fight in order to get it. Nobody will ever tell you that their success was achieved painlessly. You have to break a few eggs to make an omelet; and Eminem broke more than a few eggs. People often associate hip-hop and all its components to black culture. Although that view may be a tad simplistic, it is undeniable that black people are the predominant race in hip-hop; that is a simple observation. Black people saw rapping as a tool of expression, a weapon to fight a system that was unfair to them. So when Eminem claimed a spot within this selective circle, he was obviously rejected by those who believed he did not belong there (because of his skin color); although he shared most of their social and economical realities. At that point many people would have quitted; it was not a safe environment and there is no point in risking one’s physical integrity just because of music.

But Eminem did not; he fought and established himself without giving up his identity. For a white person to enter this middle and be recognized as one of its more iconic member is an immense accomplishment in my opinion. Eminem broke down the stereotype that only black people could rap, the same way Tiger Woods, Barack Obama and many others changed the standards in their respective fields. Eminem’s performance is still relevant. Even today, certain roles within our societies are assigned based on characteristics other than merit (gender, race, nationality…). What Eminem’s example shows us is that we must not be discouraged to fight for our goals because of such characteristics. You have to believe in your capacities and know that they will allow you to break down unfavorable pre-received  ideas.

Do not let your private life drag you down

Eminem has had rather chaotic private life and that had an undeniable effect on his career. His multiple misfortunes with his mother and his wife, combined with his drug problems, were a constant source of material for the press for many years. Eminem was caught up in this negative spiral that was destroying him and all he had ever worked for. However, he got himself together after a drug overdose almost killed him in 2005. Realizing the dangerousness of his lifestyle, he put his career on hold and got his private matters sorted out. Since then, he has come back to making music and regained his status of an international star.

This episode of Eminem’s life is full of lessons. Your talent is like a flower: it needs a healthy and stable environment in order to flourish and thrive. People often say how you should separate your private life from your professional one, but the truth is they are interconnected. Your professional life will be a failure if private matters keep holding you back; and your professional success will not matter as much without a satisfying private life. You must be able to eliminate anything that is keeping you from moving forward. Eminem realized that. He may have loved his wife but it was obvious that their marriage was hurting them both and therefore they had to end it. More generally, there will always be people around you that are going to drag you down with them, even though they may not be aware of it. It is critical that you identify them as fast as possible and take appropriate measures; you may have to cut them loose if necessary but you cannot let other people stand between you and your goals.

At last, the most important moral of this story is this: it is okay to get lost on the course of your journey as long as you are able to find your way back and get back on track. Life is made of ups and downs; we cannot control that. There will be more enjoyable and less enjoyable moments. What we can/must do however, is to make sure we recognize the bad periods and get through them with minimum damages. The worst thing would be to have a fatalistic set of mind when you are in those moments of negativity; if you give up on yourself, be sure that no one can lift you up.

You can check the 3rd issue below: