Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk

I’ve gone through periods in my life where I was really into reading, as well as others where I didn’t touch a book for months. When I was teaching and coaching, I seemed to get my fill of reading on a daily basis between reading for kids, with kids and flipping through numerous coaching books filled with everything from X’s and O’s to motivational information.

It wasn’t really until the last couple years here where I really had an awakening with reading. And it all started with the book, Crush It, by Gary Vaynerchuk. If you’re not familiar with Gary, he’s an extremely brash social media influencer with an amazing story of how he came to be. Gary focuses on entrepreneurship while encouraging others to really go after what they want in life. I can’t even remember what brought me to his book, but at the time, I had been toying with the idea of leaving my 10+ year teaching career. Being frustrated with who I was and who I saw myself becoming, I was looking for an outlet. I knew I would never really come to know my true self if I continued stuck in the pattern of unhappiness in which I found myself.

Now, I’m a true believer in people coming into and happenings in your life occur for a reason and are brought into your world when you need them most. For the longest time I couldn’t see that. Honestly, I think it was mainly because I was unwilling to see it. Gary V’s book hit home when I needed it most, pushing me off the cliff and into my journey of the pursuit of my own happiness and self-fulfillment.

Since that point, reading has grown me as a person in every way possible. Focusing on mainly self-development and self-improvement reading, I’ve really come to realize the importance of the environment you surround yourself with, including the books you read, and how it has a profound impact on not just you personally, but how you perceive everything around you in your life as well. Because when it comes down to it, it’s not a situation where life just happens to you and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s really about how you react to what is going on around you. It’s about how you filter that information and respond to it.

Think of everything you take in on a daily basis – from everything you read and watch to your friends and the social media you associate yourself with. Is it positive? Is it uplifting? Does it drive and motivate you? Does it bring out your best and encourage you to reach your potential?

As a kid, I remember reading the book Love You Forever with my mom many times. Every time I was entertained, and every time my mom cried. As I kid, I didn’t quite understand why she would get sad. Now, as a parent, I completely understand exactly why it was so hard for her to read.

Frog and Toad Together was another one of my favorites. As I read that book now to my two-year-old daughter, I pick up lessons I had never seen 30 years ago like patience, time and willpower.

As we go through life, we are all at different stages. Stages of acceptance where we’re more open and willing, as well as stages of rejection where we’re closed off or unwilling to see. We’re at different stages based on what we know and are familiar with because of life experiences. Based on where you’re currently at, the information and people around you will be filtered differently. You’ll see things in different lights. Over the last couple years, I’ve personally moved from a much more closed off mindset to that of a growth-oriented mindset. A big reason for that is because I’ve now become a parent. Priorities in my life have changed. How I look at things in life has changed. I typically don’t reject ideas or close myself off from things anymore. Instead, I look for answers and ask myself Why. I am more curious to know more and understand things more deeply, looking to chew things over in my head before coming to conclusions.

As I pick up books to read now, every book has a compounding effect on me as I pull more and more information and relate it to my ever-changing personal beliefs, philosophy and knowledge base. Books I have read in the past where I feel like I didn’t get much out of them before I have picked up again and can’t believe how I had never seen things in them that I now notice. A huge part of that is not necessarily looking for specific items, but allowing myself to be more open to them. By focusing purely on just goals, growth is never guaranteed. But by me prioritizing growth, reaching goals has become an automatic byproduct.

If you’re not sure where to begin your personal growth journey…

  • Pick up a book that will get you thinking. Maybe it’s something brand new you haven’t read before. Maybe it’s one you were hoping would hit home with you years ago but you just weren’t quite ready for the information yet.
  • Start following others with a positive and uplifting message on social media. Set your notifications so that you see their content first in your news feed. It’s amazing how much better you’ll start your day.
  • Surround yourself with friends, colleagues or a mentor that challenge you and bring out the best in you. Collaborate with others that want to talk about goals and deeper meanings of life, not just the weather and other people. Cut those ties with the negative people in your life – They’re merely holding you back from seeing and becoming your best you.