“The number one thing that I could tell you (because I’m desperate to bring value, since I’m here) is, I think everybody lies to themselves. And I think all of you want certain things to be happening with you — you want yourself to be something. I think what you need to do more of, is you have to actually audit who you are. I think that America, as a society, has done a really good job of selling us how to fix the things we naturally aren’t. And there is a lot of money being made on us forming into something we can’t be.”
That quote is a snippet of a lecture Gary Vaynerchuck gave to a group of college students. What he discussed before that quote was the importance of self-awareness. What came after was the importance of knowing what you’re great at and sticking with it. He basically thinks we should bet everything we have, on who we are. And if we don’t know who that is, we should ask those around us that know us best. He compared it to gambling, and said that every single gambling chip we have should be bet on who we really are in order to win.
“You need to bet on your strengths, and don’t give a f*ck about what you suck at. Way too many people in this room are going to spend the next thirty, forty years of their lives, trying to check the boxes of the things they’re not as good at, and in that, you’re going to waste a f*ck load of time and lose.”
The word self-awareness can be used in several ways. Gary is only referring to basic self-awareness. (Not the Self-awareness you read often in my blog, or in eastern philosophy.) The self-awareness Gary speaks of is a basic knowledge of self — knowing yourself.
You might ask, if it’s so basic, why do most of us have little to no sense of who we really are?
For the most part, people spend lifetimes trying to duplicate each other and fit in as seamlessly as possible with the whole of society. People are trained from infancy to sweep who they are are under the rug. Who they really are is something that happens in private — if it happens at all.
I often talk about the fact that we are human beings that have lost all sense of what it means to be. Being, on its most fundamental level, has become a lost art. We can also say the same thing for being oneself. Something that should be completely innate to all of us oddly seems out-of-reach. People can’t sit still in silence (which is a form of being, or being with oneself), let alone openly and authentically be themselves around other people. Why and how did we lose touch with who we are (and the ever-satisfying richness that it contains)?
Gary Vaynerchuck made the point that America [or society as a whole, globally] has done a great job of selling us out of who we really are. I think that is a valid point. Seth Godin also makes a great point. He said, “Humanity has been boiled out of us.” Buckminster Fuller speaks along the same lines, he said “By the time most people are mature they have lost their innate capabilities. […] Everyone is born a genius, but the process of living de-geniuses them.” Jiddhu Krishnamurti has similar thoughts, “Tradition becomes our security, and when the mind is secure it is in decay […] The primary cause of disorder in ourselves is the seeking of reality promised by another.”
If you want to return to your natural state of beingness, or self knowledge (and I mean this on a very basic level), think of it as getting in touch with your humanness, getting in touch with your humanity. Become tender again. Practice connecting with (and embracing) how you feel. Practice expressing that to others and living it moment to moment.
Think of a child — a very young child — before it was programmed by its parents and culture. It feels everything, it’s very sensitive. It clearly states its wants and needs. It’s in touch with its body, with nature and its surrounds. It also is profoundly honest, as well as open and unconditionally loving. That child isn’t afraid to share who it really is. Its arms are wide open to the world, as well as to its own self.
Authenticity and humanness go hand-n-hand. When Gary says, “everybody lies to themselves,” he is saying that humanity is out of touch with humanity, and has lost sense of what it means to be human.
As humans we all have what it is that makes us universal, but at the same time unique. The world currently has 7.3 billion people on it. Out of 7.3 billion people, there is not a single one that is just like you. You are it! You are the only one that can uniquely offer what is uniquely you. You are also the only one that can live your life and experience it to its potential. Your whole world is happening through your senses. If it feels unjust, stressful or stuck, you might want to look at what sort of societal pressures you are putting on yourself.
Gretchen Rubin made a Youtube video titled ‘Know Yourself’ that is worthy of viewing. I’ll share it with you below. It’s very short and to the point.
I don’t think I have anything to say in summation, I’ll just say what I’ve been saying a lot lately: it’s paramount to tell the truth. Be honest with others, yes — but more importantly, be honest with yourself.
The more I acknowledge and share (and live) my most authentic feelings, the more I feel liberated and the more exciting my life becomes. There is a sense of peace and joy, as well as synchronistic flow and effortlessness. Of course it takes a certain amount of practice and audacity to be one’s self after it’s been trained out of us for decades — but it’s never too late to start!
Life always begins now. Each day, each second is an opportunity for you to be fully expressed and live more authentically. Don’t be afraid to gamble on yourself. Don’t be afraid to put all your chips on the table.