Fear can be a useful emotion. It warns us of danger, gives us a dose of adrenaline that pushes us, and it alerts us to any change in the status quo.
When fear stops being useful is when we start letting it hold us back from the things we WANT to do. The biggest culprit of this kind of prohibitive fear is the fear of failure.
Enter Gary Vaynerchuk—serial entrepreneur and man who definitely does NOT suffer from fear of failure. He wants people to start thinking of failure in a different way—as an advantage.
“I want to change the conversation around fear of failure and adversity,” he says. “I genuinely believe that your adversity and your ‘losses’ are your biggest strengths in today’s environment.”
Gary explains that in the age of the internet, the playing fields that were traditionally controlled by “gatekeepers” (ie, old rich white dudes) have become more level than they have ever been before.
And that means that anyone who has faced struggle—who has embraced failure and learnt what it has to teach – has a real advantage.
“There are still a ton of problems in the world, no doubt,” Gary continues. “But I really think that people coming from struggle and adversity have an advantage in this era with the internet.”
“I love losing because I don’t care about what you think about my loss,” says Gary.
“The truth is, no one has 100 percent context on your life outside of you. That’s the reason I don’t value other people’s opinions over my own—not even my own wife’s or mom’s. It’s because they don’t have full context on my intent.”
That lack of context is why Gary doesn’t fear failing in front of anyone.
So next time you feel that little flutter of fear, of humiliating yourself by failing in front of someone, try to remember what Gary says—no one knows the full context of you intent, so why should you care what they think?
Or, as Gary puts it, “give the future more credit than the past.”
People often put the past on a pedestal, and let the fear of repeating a mistake stop them from moving forward.
“To me,” Gary says, “the past is over. It doesn’t exist anymore. I’m only living in the current and the future.”
“When you look forward to the future instead of dwelling on the past, you get faster at making decisions.”
“The reason I have no fear of failure is because I don’t have the same ‘indicators’ of success as other people do,” Gary says.
When you define the game how the world tells you to, of course you’re going to be envious of others and fearful that you can never match up.
But remember: people only share their best lives in public. You don’t see all the hard work that goes into each success—the contortions that go into each perfectly orchestrated Instagram pic, or all the shots a player has to miss in practice in order to get the dunk in the game.
“When people ask me which entrepreneurs I look up to, my answer usually surprises them,” Gary says. “I don’t answer with the cliche ‘Steve Jobs’, ‘Elon Musk’, or other billionaires.”
“I’m inspired by people in the dirt—normal people in average jobs who decide that they want to build something for themselves, people who don’t ‘get’ Facebook or Instagram, but are determined to figure it out or people who have humility to put in work in the face of judgement.”
“Contextualising is really important when it comes to focusing on what actually matters.”
“The reason it’s easy for me to stay in my own head is because I’m able to contextualise. For me, success isn’t about having the most money or taking the most vacations. I’m playing a different game.”
So, think about what game you want to be playing. What really matters to you? Money, business success, likes on Instragram?
Or is it being a better person? Acting with kindness and generosity, working hard to support and inspire others, making the world a better place?
When you redefine what it means to win, you redefine the game.
“You don’t have to play by the rules that other people set,” Gary says.
“And when you create the game in your own head, you can rig it in your favour every time.”