The “Hustle” Delusion
Having believed in the “hustle” during my twenties and even in my early thirties, I don’t take kindly to anyone pushing it as a way to succeed. ( And I’m not even going to address how we define “success” in this post. )
Firstly, this habit of ignoring the dictionary meaning of words is a disservice to our ability as humans to communicate with nuance – with language. Granted some words and their meanings evolve over time and some even turn into complete opposites. But pushing a word with negative connotations, to encourage growth and success, is not something I’m a fan of.
Didn’t think you were trying to do anything fraudulent did you? OR if you’re someone who’s looking to hire someone and they tell you ( or their blog tells you ) that their “hustle game strong”, do you really want to hire someone like that?
There is no “hustle”. You do good work, you show up, you hang out with people ( anyone can be a client in the future ), you don’t hurt anyone on purpose, you put in hard work consistently over a period of time. If you’re lucky enough to be born into a family with money that you’re allowed to spend on experimental endeavors, you still need to put in hard work – consistently. Even if you start with mediocre work, at some point you have to graduate to good quality work – if you want to stay in the game, that is.
Money is a means to an end. If your end is mediocre work, the best you can hope is to get a lot of mediocre work done for mid-market or lower-end market rates. Then you can survive on volume of work. But having a lot of monetary resources at your disposal doesn’t mean you’re automatically going to be successful.
You have to show up even when you don’t “feel” like it. Even when you’re sick with the flu. Even when someone you love has died. You have to show up AND you have to deliver your best work. If you so much as hint at fraud or swindle or try to jostle a client or be forceful, trust me, your clients and everyone around you can sense it. They might not be able to articulate it, but they can sense that something’s off.
Er. Thanks. But no thanks. I take my work and my life seriously because I want to improve and grow and evolve. I want to be able to believe that I did not take anyone for granted. That I respected the time and space and resources of everyone I worked with. That I took THEM seriously. Just because I don’t publicly share all my “chill out”, doesn’t mean I’m always frowning or working.
I used to believe that “hustle” meant doing a lot of work – being insanely busy and just churning out one gig after another. This isn’t ideal and is also not true. You have to stop and introspect and re-frame your goals. Why are you doing what you’re doing? How can you do it better? What’s the point of all this anyway?
Having spent most of my twenties and early thirties avoiding these questions because, “OMG I’m so busy!”, it’s only now, in the latter part of my thirties, that I’m spending time on this and re-calibrating my goals and what I want to do in life. Because I can finally see the things that satisfy my cravings. And I intend to do more of those and do them well.
How did they get to where they are? Are they really where they say they are? Do their clients think so? Do they even HAVE paying clients? Do not accept anything anyone says without thinking – if you feel comfortable enough, ask them these pointed questions and see what that yields. “Who was the latest client you worked with? What was the assignment about? Would you mind sharing an indication of how much one can expect to get paid for something like this?“
The “hustlers”, mostly, will not have an answer or will fib and fumble through these questions. On the other hand, if you ask this of someone who has worked hard – someone who has shown up consistently and delivered good work – they will have NO problem at all sharing these things with you.
Even the “urban dictionary” defines “hustle” as “doing whatever it takes to make money”. And THAT never ends well does it? “Whatever it takes”? And is your ultimate goal only to “make money”? That’s a poor choice, in the long run because that DOES mean that you will do whatever it takes to make money. Money should be a by-product of doing what you enjoy. If it is the only thing that keeps you going, you’ve already bought into the “hustle”. But if you have been wondering what this “hustle” thing is and if you’ve heard or seen someone “hustling”, first stop and question everything about this.
Choose wisely. Choose for your self. Ultimately, only you are responsible for wherever you are. Life is hard as it is, why make it harder?
Learn to think critically – and that starts by you asking questions. I hope this new year brings more questionable opportunities your way so that you practice and practice and DO NOT SETTLE FOR THE “HUSTLE”.