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Listen, this is probably one of the most difficult conversations you can possibly have, but I also think it’s one of the most empowering. It all comes down to these three little words…
You’re gonna die.
The reason I believe in it is because it’s ultimately practical. It’s the guiding light and the fire and ambition that drives me toward legacy and living my best life.
These three words are just so massively important. If you aren’t aware of your own death, how can you possibly attempt to live?
So this article really came about from a recent conversation I had on #AskGaryVee with Ryan Holiday. Ryan is an author and modern-day philosopher who carries around a coin reading “Memento Mori” which in Latin translates to “be conscious of your own mortality”
In that conversation, I began to dig deeper into a concept I constantly express.
Many of you may remember the famous clip of the fan running up to me on the street and asking me for the three most important words that could change her life… In the spur of the moment, I said, “You’re gonna die”
It was an epic interaction and it was just so true.
Because in my 41 years of life, I continually see people operate every day as if they won’t…
There’s no fundamental urgency around life. We all just take it for granted…
The greatest thing about accepting your own death and using “You’re gonna die” in a very positive, optimistic, empowering way is that it motivates you to do extraordinary things.
It allows you to execute on another one of my all-time strategies which are macro patience, micro speed.
When you realize you only have one at-bat, you stop worrying about your years and put enormous emphasis into capitalizing on your days, minutes, hours and seconds. You develop an intense urgency around every action that you take.
It’s why my days are scheduled beyond belief. I do 20-30 and sometimes even 40 meetings in a day!
It’s because SPEED is so crucial to my success. But I also have immense patience in the macro. I have real legacy ambitions due to the recognition of “You’re gonna die” which helps me navigate on a timeline that so few people actually do.
It also allows me to have ultimate patience and perspective and gratitude along the way.
Personally, I’m just blown away by people’s inability to have a pulse on both how long and short life actually is. People are so impatient on a day-to-day, yet aren’t doing anything strategically on a macro to put themselves in a position to succeed.
I just don’t see enough effort and using these four words as the biggest motivator for success. When you wake up every morning and confront the notion that “you’re gonna die” .. You really begin to act differently.
I genuinely challenge everybody to stop reading this right now and ask themselves if they get diagnosed terminally – one week to live – are they gonna feel good about it?
It’s the most important question you can possibly ask.
I mean, wow, how devastating!! Shit!! There’s so much more I had to give, but if this is the hand I was dealt, I definitely squeezed the fuck out of what I had.
The reason this post is so controversial is I think people have accepted their fate of dying in a negative way.
When they do that, they make everything else irrelevant as if it no longer matters. For me, I’m the exact opposite. I don’t want to just go through the motions and remain complacent and passive and inactive along the way.
I use “You’re gonna die” as the ultimate fire. The ultimate motivator for my actions, ambitions and success.
I take a very positive view which is “memento mori” is just a very practical framework for living a great life.
And, listen, just before I end, I’m very empathetic that it takes a real balance of understanding when to be hyperactive and aggressive and fast, and what to be slow on. It’s not easy to decide, but it’s important to ask the question.
And I will continue through my actions more than my words, to try to show that.
You can’t quit your job tomorrow and go spend all your money on a burning man, but you can ask the question and try to redefine your reality so that you’re in the best position to succeed.
You can come to a conclusion about what you really want, about what’s really important to you and you can then reverse engineer that and make it a reality.
It is a very fine line … it’s a very intriguing framework to try to live through, but if you can wrap your head around your death being an optimistic, positive reinforcement, to get the most out of life and to really know yourself. For me, it’s the only way you can achieve and strive to create legacy.
For somebody else, that might mean more time off, it might mean traveling. It might mean spending time abroad.
For me, I don’t want to see the pyramids, or the eclipse, or the moon.
I just don’t.
And I don’t feel bad for that, that’s just reverse engineering my truth.
I want to build businesses and create a framework for entrepreneurship, and immigration hustle, and kindness as a weapon, and self-awareness, and gratitude and empathy through my work.
And so I don’t judge people that want to see every single artifact that ever existed. If that’s what they want then great!
And I’m super comfortable being judged. But, if I wasn’t so aware of “You’re gonna die”, maybe I would be more passive. Maybe there would be two weeks that I would spend on looking at the pyramids or the Amazon river, but I just don’t want to.
And that was the point for me. I just think that somehow it drives you toward legacy and doing something great. It’s the gateway to everything I speak about including gratitude and perspective and empathy. If you can use the words “You’re gonna die” as a force, or a fire to motivate you, that’s what brings you to all of those different things.
And again, not everybody has this narcissistic narrative in their mind about themselves, that I do. And I don’t want people to think they need to leave a legacy. If the way they want to leave their legacy is through their one, only child, and that’s how they’re going to leave a legacy, then fine.
But it needs to drive you towards your truth, not the world’s current politically correct truth. And just being more intentional. Just living a more intentional life. And realizing how in control you are.
You always have a choice, but first, you have to ask the question.
What will you do?
Note: This article first appeared on Gary Vaynerchuk’s Blog and has been reproduced with permission. The views/opinion expressed are sole of the author’s.
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