4 Principles I Wish I Understood 4 Years Sooner: Advice for Ambitious College Students

Malik Mbaye
4 min readAug 12, 2020

Have you ever spoken with someone and saw a twinkle in their eyes or felt their energy? Something deep inside was telling you — “this person is special.”

It’s in a unique feeling and often times the person on the other side may not even see the power of their gifts. Imagine if you were able to help them unlock their potential and self actualize. Call me crazy, but I think life would probably be better if everyone lived in their purpose.

That’s why I’m big on positive reinforcement bc there have been several times in my life when someone letting me know what I do well has shifted my perspective.

When someone is shining, let them know. It not only empowers them, but it also gives you permission to let your light shine as well.

That’s how I felt talking to Gene Nartey today. We caught up about life and work. We discussed self acceptance, side hustles, nurturing your creativity, and so much more. We’re actually make a podcast about the whole thing.

But the entire time in the convo, I could just tell that he had the sauce based on the kinds of questions he was asking me. They were subtle, nuanced, and dealt with things that we all have to overcome. They were things that I just came to reckon with myself, except he’s 4 years ahead of me. Which is awesome.

So I thought to myself, if I could go back 4 years, what are the core concepts i wish I understood sooner. So here’s what I shared:

I can see you got the glow. You got the special sauce and charisma. That mixed with your high intellect and suave makes you a rare breed. if i was in your shoes right now. the biggest pieces of advice i’d give myself would be:

1.forgive yourself no matter what. that means even when u don’t deserve it.

2. you will doubt yourself. but never let that stop you for trying.

3. Take pride in always trying (again) no matter what. Not in being right.

4. Every day remind yourself that you are the GOAT, no matter what. Even on the days you’re slacking.

  1. Gets at the concept of self acceptance. I’m learning how to balance self acceptance with ambition. It’s tricky, but I feel like once you master it, you unlock new levels of peace, fulfillment, and creative freedom.
  2. Gets at the concept of self-doubt. People often let a little doubt get between them and their goals. And if you’re living in doubt and worry, it can sometimes feel unshakeable. You pity yourself for not taking action and then you pity yourself for pitying yourself. This reminds me of something @Lisa Nichols said: “Don’t wait for clarity (or lack of fear) to take action. The clarity will come from the action.” Lately I’ve realized that doubt and fear are normal human emotions, and they don’t have to be crippling unless you want them to. I now look at doubt and fear as an alert mechanism rather than a blocker. It alerts me to stay alert and do my best, it doesn’t stop me from doing.
  3. Gets at the concept of identity and self image. If you build your identity around being right, you will be crippled and devastated when you are wrong. This is not a healthy cycle. So instead of taking pride in getting the right answer, take pride in trying. If you do that, you give yourself permission to be great. Because if you don’t dare to try, you’ll never know what could be.
  4. Gets at at the concept of self-confidence. Self confidence is so key. You have to believe in yourself before anyone else does. And if you truly believe in yourself, then people will be more likely to believe in you. This is why I think its important for everyone to understand that no matter what happens in their lives they are truly worthy and they have something to be proud of.

These are the 4 principles I’m practicing and being mindful of at this point in my journey. I feel like if I understood these concepts sooner, my growth would’ve accelerated. And now that I am starting to understand them, I feel like it’s accelerating my growth and impact as we speak. I hope it does the same for you.

Let me know in the comments if you have any gems of advice you would’ve given yourself 4 years ago.

Till we meet again.

Own your power. Give back. Leave no stone unturned.

Black Lotus Out.



Malik Mbaye

Marketer | Designer | Founder. Sharing my favorite projects and insights