Why Gary Vaynerchuk’s Perspective On Meditation Is Everything That’s Wrong With Entrepreneurship
If you think meditation is a gateway to “greatness,” you’re missing the point.
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The first time I was introduced to Gary Vaynerchuk's brash and oddly likable personality was through a video of his in which he described himself as a wine that takes some getting used to.
It's an acquired taste.
In my search for knowledge and desire to learn from those ahead of me in the Game of Entrepreneurship, I acquired that taste. There were some weeks where my morning ritual began with listening to a GaryVee video while I cooked myself breakfast. And every morning I did this, the result was the same: I started my day hyped and ready to kill it.
As I began to introduce my friends to his content, he always inspired the same result. One of my closest friends and fellow Inc columnist, Matthew Jones, and I would spend hours consuming and then debating the new lessons we were learning on what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur--a winner of The Game.
The 1 thing I always really respected about Gary Vaynerchuk was his ability to stay within his realm of expertise.
I never watched Gary Vaynerchuk to learn how to improve my personal health, or to get insights on which hockey team I thought was going to win the Stanley Cup, nor did I care to know what his personal beliefs were on controversial topics like politics. And he didn't care to share them--because they didn't have to do with The Game.
And The Game is what he is very, very good at.
Which is why I felt taken aback when he shared his perspective on meditation in a recent episode of his.
"I believe meditation is the 'unlock' of the next chapter. That people will live longer, and happier, once they start really getting into That Game."
Before moving any further here, I'd like to point out the most glaring issue of all. Vaynerchuk refers to meditation as That Game.
A "game" implies an end goal, a reward, a desired outcome--which, simply put, is the complete and utter Westernization (similar to what Core Power did to yoga) to a much deeper, and intended to be selfless practice.
"And I'll be very honest with you, I think I was born gifted. I think I'm meditating while I'm talking to you right now. I feel like I'm a tough read, I'm an enigma, because of my personality. But I think the people that know me better, or have been around a little bit longer, have a pretty good read in my groundness--I'm balanced in my extremities. And so I know the benefits of a very peaceful mind. I think maybe it was handed to me, or the circumstances handed it to me, but I wish it on everybody. And if meditation is a gateway to that feeling, which I believe, intuitively, it could be, it's going to be a big deal. NOW. Anytime something is a big deal, business people come in. And so you're going to have a lot of people from these parts of the world, India, other places where this has been common culture for a long time, who are going to be mad at the American business DNA of turning meditation into SoulCycle and Coca-Cola--but that is what's going to happen. And I look at that as a positive."
He's right. That's exactly what's going to happen. And it points at a root issue nobody in business wants to address.
As someone who is both extremely competitive (which is where I relate to Gary Vaynerchuk) and someone who also actively practices meditation, I can tell you that what he is explaining, and even "experiencing," is not meditation.
It's flow. It's a practiced and heightened sense of awareness. It's, by every definition, the state a professional athlete or brilliant composer enters when they're in their element.
That's not the same as meditation--nor is that meditation's purpose.
Meditation is NOT going into a field, tripping acid, and brainstorming the next iPhone.
Meditation is NOT getting into a state where any obstacle becomes insurmountable in your mind's eye.
And meditation is certainly NOT walking around with a camera crew following your every move, never giving yourself a moment to sit with your feelings, proclaiming that you were born gifted--the same gift masters of meditation dedicated their entire years to practicing (notice I didn't say "mastering." They became masters in practicing--but there was no desired outcome.).
Entrepreneurship is going to do to meditation what we just witnessed happen with yoga.
If you meditate so that you can be "better" than someone else, you're not meditating--and to anyone with a remotely tuned sense of self-awareness, it's blindingly obvious.
Just like how, if you want to practice yoga so that you can be "more flexible" than the next person, "more grounded, more centered, more spiritual, more balanced," you're missing the point. And maybe 20 years from now you'll realize that in chasing "more, better, taller, faster," you're actually moving farther and farther away from Who You Truly Are.
Gary Vaynerchuk is a terrific businessperson. And he's 100% correct in his business projection of what the western world is about to do to the next "mindfulness fad," commercializing meditation.
The issue is that, in making business projections, he roots those business claims by saying, "I have a peaceful mind. I am meditating right now. I was born this way."
That's not what meditation is. I'm pretty sure Rumi would laugh and Osho would roll his eyes and Adi Da would call bullshit at Gary Vaynerchuk's "I was just born gifted" proclamation. That's precisely what the western world got wrong about yoga. And that's precisely what we're going to get wrong, again, with meditation.
Entrepreneurship is a Game.
Games are how we construct our egos. How we figure out who we are and what we stand for in relation to the rest of this big world.
But Games do not point to your True Self.
And I fear, with people in a position of influence who talk the talk but don't walk the walk, more and more people will move farther and farther away from the whole purpose of meditation, treating it like a "shortcut to greatness." Then, the entrepreneurship community too, will be nothing more than a bunch of Lululemon-wearing subscribers to Headspace saying the words, like parrots, "I'm way more mindful than a lot of my peers."
Stop trying to 'unlock' yourself for the sake of achievement.
As Vaynerhuck says often, "I don't know what will happen once I buy the Jets. I don't actually want to buy the Jets. I'm in love with the hustle. The Game."
And what happens when that game stops? When you can no longer escape into the endlessly fun pursuit of mastering the rules, overcoming obstacles, and proving yourself among your competitors? What happens when you've bought the new "meditation drink" and you're bored of wearing your "meditation clothes" and you've eaten at all the nearby "meditation-friendly food spots."
The dust will settle. You will find yourself in silence.
And in that uncomfortable moment, with nothing else to achieve, you will be left with only yourself.
THAT, is the purpose of meditation. And I encourage every--not just entrepreneur, but human being--to make time for that practice.