50 Cent, Life Coach

50 cent

I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of a life coach. I use a fitness and nutrition coach these days, and they’ve been priceless in terms of their impact on my health. Life coaches are interesting in that they are like mentors, but different because a life coach relationship is spelled out, whereas a mentor relationship is mostly implicit.

The best thing I’ve read in months is ZachBaron’s feature for GQ, 50 Cent Is My Life Coach. It’s equal parts smart, strong, heartbreaking and human. It’s also the sort of article that gets better and better the more of it you read. I’m going to share some of my favorite bits here just to entice you, but really, you should read the whole thing. Make it a weekend free-time thing. Seriously.

50 Cent on having couples make vision boards:

50 Cent thinks for a minute. Actually, he says, my girlfriend—the one I just mentioned, the one I’d just moved in with? 50 Cent would like her to make a vision board, too. Then we’re going to compare. “Take things out of your folder and things out of her folder to create a folder that has everything,” he says. “Now the vision board is no longer your personal vision board for yourself: It’s a joint board.” That joint board will represent what we have in common. It will be a monument to our love.

But there will be some leftover unmatched photos, too, in each of our folders. And that’s what the joint board is really for—what it’s designed to reveal. “The things that end up on your vision board that aren’t in hers are the things that she has to accept,” 50 Cent says. “And the things that she has that you don’t are the things that you have to make a compromise with.” In a healthy relationship, he explains, your differences are really what need talking about. This is how you go about making that conversation happen.

“See?” 50 says, smiling. “Now, they ain’t gonna tell you to do that in no book.”

Baron’s observation about 50 Cent’s authenticity and willingness to be human:

I’d come to hold up a mirror, get 50 Cent to talk about himself, his dreams, his fears, his regrets. Except here he was—enthusiastically inquiring about my dreams, my fears, my regrets—holding up the mirror first. He did it without irony or skepticism—it wasn’t a joke to him, even if it sort of was to me. That was lesson one.

On his sons:

“Me and my son, we don’t have a relationship anymore,” 50 said, squeezing the squash ball. “It’s based on his mom. He’s adopted her way of thinking.” He’s trying to do it over now, he said, with his second son, whom he had by a different woman in 2012—to do it right this time, even though he’s already split with that boy’s mother, too. “I don’t have anything negative around the concept of kids,” he said.

On dressing the part:

I began living like he told me to live. That first morning, I’d arrived at his office wearing jeans and sneakers, and, in time, I asked him what he thought about the outfit. He looked me up and down. “Look, GQ may send you to interview 50 Cent because you come dressed casual,” he said diplomatically. Around him and his friends, I blended right in. “But they would send the guy in the suit to go fucking interview George Clooney in a heartbeat.”

So you’re saying I should wear a suit to work?

“It’s how people perceive the person that they’re actually sending you to go interview,” he said. Me coming into work every day in Nikes: Maybe I didn’t entirely look like I belonged in a room with the type of man GQ aspires to celebrate. I looked down at my scuffed sneakers. 50 Cent had a point.

All right. I’m gonna wear the suit tomorrow.

“And when you do it, I bet you people ask you, ‘Hey, you look good! Where you going? What’s going on?’ Because it’s not an everyday thing for you. When you clean up, people notice.”

On his fall from rap music’s pantheon of top dogs:

50 says it was around his third album, 2007’s Curtis, that he first got the feeling things were going sideways for him as an artist. He challenged Kanye West to a sales competition and lost—an intimation of what was to come. Kanye’s Graduation didn’t just outsell Curtis; it was the beginning of Kanye’s long reign as rap’s most influential artist, the weirdly emotional guy who crowded 50’s sound right out of the marketplace. 50 knew it, too—even he liked Graduation.“I listened to that shit a million times,” he says. Then 2009’s Before I Self Destruct came out and basically flopped. People were too busy listening to Kanye and Drake, 50 says now. “Maybe I was supposed to be under a palm tree, instead of putting the record out.”

On being flawed:

At first I thought he was upset because I’d questioned his sincerity. But it wasn’t that. “I could lie to you,” he said. He glared at me. “And instead I actually shared ideas with you that I would use myself. I like the life-coach concept—it’s a cool concept. But my life’s not all the way right. To be coaching someone else, all I can do is give you the things that I would use. You see what I’m saying? We all have imperfections, man. We all have things that are not right.”

And the lesson of all lessons, in Baron’s words:

This was to be my last lesson, though I didn’t realize it at the time: that he’d willed everything he had into reality with a set of tools no different or better than mine. The earnestness, the effort, the endless self-belief—out of nothing more than that, he created 50 Cent. The guy who is about to put another record out whether anybody wants it or not. The guy whose mother died at the hands of a person she must have trusted; the guy who just jettisoned the oldest friends he had. And yet he’d behaved like a friend to me. Could I say the same?

Honestly, just go read it.

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