The biggest problem with Gary V’s advice

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I’ve been listening to the productivity gurus for a few years now: Gary Vaynerchuck, Tim Ferriss, Jocko Willink, and their ilk. I’m a big fan of their prodding to work hard, be more disciplined, and improve ourselves.

Perhaps this is more true of Gary V than the other guys, but I finally was able to put my finger on what exactly he is missing in all of his advice. It came about through a conversation at the gym the other night. I was talking to two high school seniors about their futures. They aren’t sure if they want to go to college or not, and I encouraged them to do it.

“If you go to college,” I explained, “everyone around you benefits. College doesn’t just benefit you and make you more money, but your entire community is elevated when you become more educated.”

I used examples from both my life and lives of people we know: Teachers, pastors, counselors, and everyone whose job requires a little higher education are all people who prove that their education has benefitted their communities. I believe that no matter what career you are drawn to, becoming more educated will not only benefit your life, but the lives of those around you.

The boys nodded, we bumped bro-knuckles, and went back to lifting weights.

Right then, it clicked in my mind. I realized what was absent from so much of the advice dolled out by V and his peers: Their emphasis is always on improving your life; how can you be more productive and grind harder so your life will be better?

Enough has been said about the burnout rate of the lifestyles encouraged by Gary. It’s not a sustainable pace; you need rest.

You need pace…

You need fellowship and family…

But like Western vs. Eastern medicine, these critiques only serve to address the symptoms rather than get to the very root of their message. What are they really saying? Where is their real motivation located?

Gary would tell you that his end goal is not to make a lot of money, or even to buy the Jets (An example he often uses). His goal is the hustle itself. He loves the journey, not the destination.

This isn’t a bad thing in itself, but what is the implication?

You are the most important person in the world. Hustle so you can succeed or feel good about yourself.

Where is the emphasis on others? How are other people benefitted when you are ‘hustling’? Regardless of whether or not you’re getting burnt out, is your focus on yourself or on the world?

As a Christian, I can’t help but see through these superficial goals, even if they’re disguised as hard work and dedication. I believe the end goal of people — especially Christians — should be to serve the world. Where do we see Jesus putting Himself and His desires above everyone else’s? When did the Apostles hustle in order to feel accomplished before they served the poor and crippled?

When you think about the direction of your life and what you hope to accomplish, is it primarily about you, or are you also trying to find ways to benefit your community? Of course we need to think about ourselves and our goals and hopefully get better at whatever we do. But is this your sole aim? Are you improving yourself at the expense of everyone around you?

When making big decisions, do you ask yourself how you can benefit yourself and those around you? What’s the best way to elevate all of us, not just the self?

I want to be productive and disciplined.

I want to grow and improve.

But I want to be sure that as I grow and improve, I’m bringing up those around me as well. May we be people who look at how we can help those around us to grow with us, not just focusing on ourselves and our own paths.


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