Back Away from the Kool-Aid! (A Guide to Setting Aside Your Ego, Saving Face, and Perhaps Even Becoming Successful)
WE, AS A SOCIETY, ARE DROWNING IN “KOOL-AID”
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In the United States, we have a popular idiom called “drinking the Kool-Aid“, which is a reference to someone going along with doomed and/or dangerous (and possibly even deadly) idea or plan, often as the result of peer pressure (think middle-aged Frank the Tank in the movie Old School being encouraged to drink as much as possible at a frat party, just to prove he’s “still got it” to an audience of alcoholic, college-aged onlookers). The idiom was originally born out of the story of cult leader Jim Jones who notoriously talked his followers into committing mass suicide by indulging in Kool-Aid (mixed with Flavor Aid) laced with cyanide.
Why am I bringing this up on a website and blog dedicated to personal growth and development and success-oriented thinking?
I’m doing it because I see a whole lot of people these days (mostly the young, so-called “Millennial” generation) drinking a whole lot of Kool-Aid and, frankly, it concerns me, not because there’s some kind of epidemic right now of kids drinking actual Kool-Aid laced with actual cyanide, but because there is an epidemic of kids (and not just kids, but nearly everyone involved in the “hustle culture” popularized by people like Gary Vaynerchuk, Tim Ferriss, Tai Lopez, and Grant Cardone) drinking their own, special brand of Kool-Aid: A mental, ego-based kind that could, perhaps, be best likened to what psychologists have referred to for decades as delusions of grandeur.
Simply put, these “kids” (and others like them), think–no, they know–they’re “the shit”, “all that and a bag of chips”, and “kind of a big deal”, all wrapped up in one.
These “kids” honestly believe that they are “famous” because they post half-naked selfies on Instagram, “changing the world” because they write pointless, 200-300 word “blog posts” on WordPress every day, and have “made it” (as in, become successful) simply by virtue of them tweeting to their “thousands of followers” when they’re supposed to be working at their dead-end McDonald’s job.
IF THIS ISN’T DELUSIONAL, THEN I DON’T KNOW (OR SHOULD I SAY, IDK) WHAT IS
Now, don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against “hustle culture” in general, and I am, in fact, a big fan of all of the men I named earlier who have pioneered it, as well as a huge proponent of “hustling until your haters ask if you’re hiring” (that is, working so hard to make your own dreams come true that your naysayers and detractors eventually end up wanting to be you), but with that being said, I cannot and will not get behind the delusional belief system harbored by most “Millennials“, which lends itself to the idea that one can simply succeed by bombarding social media with inane, meaningless drivel every couple hours, nor can I partake, in good conscience, in enabling these “kids” to continue thinking in such an illogical, ass-backwards, and counterproductive way.
You see, I don’t want to live in a world where everyone makes their decisions based on ego; where it’s all about, as I put it in a recent post entitled “In the Real World, You’re All Alone and It’s Everyone for Themselves, Whether You Like It or Not”, “me, me, me, myself and I”, where everyone thinks his or her Kool-Aid is so damn good that everyone else should be drinking it right along with them, even in the complete and utter absence of what is called “social proof”, which is needed to establish that someone is legitimately successful.
Case in point: I recently created a new Twitter account for my rap/hip-hop persona Cory Crush, because, despite me having not recorded a new song since 2012, I’ve been planning for a few months now to re-release all of my old music (some of which dates back to 2002 and has never been heard by 99.9% of people) as part of my personal brand-building campaign (as eluded to in my recent post entitled “The Greatest Lesson I Ever Learned From Grant Cardone (About Life, Business, and Everything in Between)”) and to take up more space in the marketplace (for the sake of SEO, primarily), and after I’d done so, I’d decided to do a quick Twitter search to see if I could find other rappers in or around my state (Wisconsin). And what I found, honestly, blew my mind. As it turns out…
EVERYONE IN MILWAUKEE THINKS THEY’RE A RAPPER
Now, I’m obviously exaggerating here to a large extent, but it is a fact that I could have literally spent several full, eight-hour days scouring Twitter for people in Wisconsin who think they’re a rapper, a music producer, or a combination of the two. And to think, that was, again, me searching in Wisconsin, a state known far more for making cheese than for “getting cheddar” (hip-hop slang for earning a shit-ton of money); imagine if so would have done the same type of search in nearby Chicago, Los Angeles, or, God forbid, New York City!
This is not to say that I don’t support the musical endeavors of my fellow Wisconsinites or the dreams of musicians all around the world in general, but it is to say that the vast majority of people who think they’re “Big Shit Poppin’“, as Tip “T.I.” Harris likes to say, are neither “Big” nor “Poppin'”, yet are more than happy to act like they are all over social media; to drink their own Kool-Aid, tell everybody about it, as if it were the last thing they were saying with their last, dying breath, and put up a front, like they’ve already “made it” (as in, achieved any type of real freedom, let alone the financial kind), when, in reality, it is quite obvious, not only to their close friends and family, but to random onlookers in general, that they haven’t.
Despite all the advice floating around out there from so-called “success gurus” and “life coaches” about the importance of “faking it until you make it”, the truth is, not even these “fakers”‘ own people–their fellow rappers, fellow “Millennials”, etc.–are buying their bullshit, because they know that “TreVon the Homie”, the “illest emcee from the MKE”, is really just Trayvon Jackson, the part-time cashier at his local Taco Bell, who just happens to record rap verses in his closet when he’s not wrapping burritos. Furthermore, because of how well-connected we all are in the Western world today, what with all the Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts and free Wi-Fi and all, everyone, including me, can easily see, if we take even just a few seconds to do a quick Google search, that, essentially…
EVERYONE IS “FAKING IT” NOWADAYS, SO “FAKING IT” DOES NOT MAKE YOU SUCCESSFUL
If it did, everyone within a 5-mile radius of you with a Twitter handle and half a brain cell in his or her head would be rich and famous. But this isn’t the case, now is it?
And why isn’t it? It isn’t, because even “Millennials”, who many members of the older generations consider to be the laziest and most entitled generation that has ever existed (the blame for which I, by the way, place squarely at the feet of the generation that raised it, the Gen-X’ers), know “fake” when they see it, and they have no respect for it–perhaps even less for it, in fact, than any previous generation, due to how common “fakeness” has become in the last 20 years and the fact that they were essentially born in it–even in situations where they, themselves, are just as “fake” as the other “fakers” they look upon with such disdain.
So who actually gets respect in this day and socially-savvy age then if it’s not the “fakers” and the Kool-Aid shot takers?
Isn’t it obvious?
It’s the real, because…
THE REAL ARE THE ONLY ONES DESERVING OF RESPECT (AND, BY EXTENSION, SUCCESS)
People like Gary Vaynerchuk haven’t “made it” (created their own thriving business and become independently wealthy) because they’ve “faked it”; they’ve “made it” because they knew who they were and what they wanted, actually gave a shit about achieving their goals, and took inspired action, when the time was right, to turn their dreams into reality.
Yes, people like Gary Vaynerchuk (better known to some as simply @GaryVee) Tweet every day, post on Facebook incessantly, upload a lot of new videos to YouTube every month, and write personal blog posts, LinkedIn articles, and Medium.com stories as if they were going to stop making them money tomorrow, but the difference between what Gary does when he does this and what most fake-thinking and Kool-Aid-drinking social media savants do is that when Gary does it, he does it not just to do it, and not just because he likes to hear himself speak (although I’m quite sure he finds the sound of his own voice to be quite pleasant), but as part and parcel of a much grander, brand-building campaign that he’s been engaged in since Day 1 for him, when he used to make YouTube videos about nothing but wine for little to no views, back when YouTube was in its infancy and far before it was even owned by Google.
In other words, people like Gary Vaynerchuk don’t “fake” anything. They get up every day and they get to work (and yes, Tweeting can be considered “work”, depending upon your business model or your role within your company), not because they want to have “followers” (unlike the aforementioned monster, Jim Jones), but because they want to lead.
HAVE YOU EVER NOTICED, THERE ARE NO “LEAD” BUTTON ON SOCIAL MEDIA SITES, JUST “FOLLOW” BUTTONS?
This is because social media wasn’t made for leading people; it was made for following them. Despite this, smart men and women all around the world, like Grant Cardone and his wife Elena Lyons, with their G&E Show on YouTube, have found a way to “lead by example” through social media, by teaching others how to become successful and perhaps even financially free (if they play their God-given cards right), based on what they already know and on an underlying desire to simply share their experience with others, in the hopes that, in doing so, they can actually “change the world” and make it a better place for all of us.
On that note, and in conclusion, I challenge you to put the damn Kool-Aid down; to stop talking about or telling yourself how great you are, what you’re going to do, and how much better you are than everybody else and to prove it, not with your words, but with your actions. In other words, stop being “fake” and start being real, right here and right now. Say what you mean, mean what you say, be a man or woman of your word, and when you say you’re going to do something, fucking do it already, because if you won’t do it, then I can guaran-damn-tee you that someone far more deserving and far more real eventually will.
Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to be here today! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it!
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