Taking on the most dangerous word in our community.
“If you’re not hustling, you’re losing.”
It’s the message we get from countless books, social media posts, blog posts and videos of entrepreneurs yelling at us to work our hands to the bone to achieve our dreams.
It’s absolutely destroying us.
I confess that I used to believe in it, but the worship of “hustle” is one of the most dangerous mistakes that startups and small businesses can succumb to.
And we, as a community, need to talk about it.
The Hustle Is Hurting Us
I love Gary Vaynerchuk.
Two of his books have had a massive impact on me and on our business. His content is consistently extraordinary, and I’m glad that he hustles to create it.
But I think his message of “never stop hustling” is scary.
When millions of people hear Gary spout the virtues of hustling…
A few—very few—of them will hustle until they find success.
Some—a lot—of them will hustle until they burn out and stop hustling and making progress.
Many, many, many more of them will watch his videos, feel guilty about not hustling, and never start anything because of their fear that they can’t hustle hard enough.
The worship of hustle actually prevents businesses from being started and grown in the first place, because those of us who don’t want to hustle—or don’t think we can—assume that success isn’t for us.
What the Hell Is “It”, Anyway?
Champions of the hustle love to point to “it” as the reason for why someone should hustle.
Do you have what it takes? Because it takes hustle to get there.
The promise sounds great, and I’m sure it has inspired more than a few people to push themselves.
But what the hell is It?
To me, It should be your own personal vision; what you want to achieve in your business or life.
But does It really take day-after-unsustainable-day of backbreaking work to achieve?
If you’re Gary Vaynerchuk, then sure. Building mega-brands with the goal of buying a multi-billion dollar football team absolutely requires the work he’s putting into it.
But his It is probably not your It. Nor is it the It of most of us.
Here’s a simple question: should you follow the same diet and training regimen as an world champion bodybuilder?
If you want their achievements, you’ll need to.
But most of us would be perfectly happy to just be fit and healthy without sacrificing the rest of our lives in the process.
And there’s a much more sustainable way to achieve that. It’s working hard and working smart while not working too much. It’s an approach that you can stick to for life.
Gary is an world champion entrepreneur. If you want to compete at his level, then yes, you’ll need to hustle.
But most of our dreams—and the level of hustle required to achieve them—probably look very different.
It took me a long time (and coming close to burnout more than once) to realize that my It isn’t the same as that of some of the hard-chargers I looked up to.
My It is a lot simpler.
For me, It means loving my work, being challenged by it and learning and growing every day.
It means having a comfortable house, cars for my wife and me, and a couple of surfboards and a snowboard.
It means having the means to provide for my wife and our young son.
It means living near the water and being able to surf whenever I want.
It means having my best friends and family close by and in good health. Helping my parents financially when they retire, because they’ve spent their lives putting nearly every disposable dime they had into raising us and putting us through private schools and universities.
These things don’t require a billion dollars.
And they don’t require hustle.
In my thirteen year career I’ve managed to achieve them with hard work done at a sustainable pace, all while taking plenty of time off and keeping myself sane. And I’ve published 200+ blog posts on how we’ve done it at Groove for the past five years, that you’re free to steal from.
Before you let anyone tell you what It takes, figure out what your It even is. And then figure out what your It will take to accomplish.
A Short and Important Exercise
Download this worksheet.
Think about what an ideal lifestyle actually looks like for you, and come up with the number for how much it’ll cost to fund.
Then, use that number to set your one-year vision. For yourself, for your business, or both.
And then, chart five paths to that goal.
Step by step, list the things that you could do to achieve that goal in your business.
Think about the number of customers you’d need to get there, and the actual tactical things you can do to get those customers.
Why chart five paths?
Because one path is a guess, at best. If you hit an obstacle on your one path, it’s easy to give in.
But forcing yourself to chart five paths:
- Makes you consider options you might not have thought of before
- Gives you a playbook you can always come back to if you get stuck or fail
- Gives you the comfort and knowledge of knowing that you’re pursuing just one of the many ways you could succeed.
And that last one is key.
On Passion and Hard Work
Not hustling is not the same as not working hard or being scrappy.
I’m—proudly—not a hustler.
None of these definitions apply to my approach.
But I do work hard. And I’m incredibly passionate about my work.
I work, on average, eight-hour days, though that passion sometimes drives me to go longer.
“Sometimes” is a key word there.
I also take time off on the weekends.
I go on vacation.
And on occasion, if the surf is looking particularly inviting on a Monday morning, I’ll ditch my office and head out for a few hours.
Of course, if you’re hustling and enjoying it, then by all means, I support you. Keep grinding.
But if you’re among those who feel guilty for not hustling enough, or are scared by the thought of chasing a dream because you’re not sure you’re cut out for the hustle…
Then I hope that this post convinces you that not everyone around you is actually hustling more than you… or even hustling at all.
Some of us are enjoying life, working hard at a pace that doesn’t hurt, and doing just fine.
And it’s okay to give yourself permission to do the same.