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Hustle is Hope

This post is a response to the post @dylanw made entitled Hustle is Hype.

Hustle isn’t a sign of greatness. Hustle is a sign of weakness. Hustle means you’re not confident enough in your own skills to let them speak for themselves.

First off, make sure you go read Dylan's post so that you know exactly what I'm commenting on.

Late last year I jumped on board with a higher ed startup called RecoVend. Four months later I jumped ship. It wasn't that I wasn't happy with the amazing guys who founded the company or the challenges involved in doing design for a service like RecoVend. It was that I was already working a full-time job and doing another 15 hours or so of freelance to make ends meet. In addition, I was in my final semester of grad school and had a thesis to write. I was, at times, staying up until 6 am working on stuff for RecoVend. That was crazy. It was fun, but crazy on top of everything else I had going on.

I had been on the bad side of hustle, which is what I believe Dylan was addressing in his post. However, I remain unconvinced that all hustle is hype, that all hustle is bad.

Three months ago I moved to Austin, TX. I left a job I had been at for 2.5 years – one that, at times, required I work 50+ hours a week. The work I was doing mattered in a very small sphere of the world and made a huge difference in that ecosystem. However, in the grand scope of things, I'm not sure the hours and sweat and stress I put into that job were worth my health. Like Dylan, my stress levels skyrocketed: my body began hurting all the time, I didn't sleep well, my weight went up, and I felt tired all the time. I was a little bit of a mess.

The decision to leave that job, move to a city where I had no formal contacts, and to start working on my own business endeavours was one made as an antidote to my sad state.

Today, I hustle harder than ever. But I don't see the definition of hustle as being "work to all hours of the day and night because you're an idiot." Rather, the hustle I experience in the people at Capital Factory, Betaspring, and elsewhere is that of making something of and for themselves. And for most of them, it pays off.

The ethos of "The American Dream" has, historically, centred around the notion that anyone, regardless of social position (including race, finances, religious leanings, etc.), may work hard to make themselves richer, happier, and fuller. In other words: hustle is hope. You are paid back for how hard you work.

For those who lack quality it takes longer and harder work to produce (read: quantity). For some with talent and skill they can work smarter and not harder and achieve their goals. These are two different types of hustle. And then you have the crazy ones who are ridiculously talented and work hard to pack as much quality into as much time as possible.

I haven't met one crazy hustler who does it just for the sake of doing it. Usually it's for a defined goal. Perhaps it's to retire early; maybe it's so they don't have to work as hard later. When I take on the crazy side of hustle it's because I have these goals:

  1. To provide for my wife
  2. To go to England
  3. To start my doctorate there
  4. To financially support that doctorate
  5. To get out of debt as soon as possible
  6. To accomplish the goals we have set to accomplish before we have kids

For me, hustle is hope. The fact that I can work toward these goals, start something from scratch, and focus on the skills that I excel at is inspiring and energizing. It's wrong to assume hustle normally takes place for the sake of hustle. Some people, sure, but many hustle for the sake of their families, their futures, and their personal fulfillment.

Those who don't ship aren't hustling. Those who talk a lot and work jobs that they hate aren't hustling. They're spinning their wheels. Those who work without goals aren't hustling, they're complacent and lazy.

Hustle is hope. Greatness comes from focus and hard work and making it happen. Those who are making a difference today didn't do it by working an 8-5 job, 40 hours a week. They made something for themselves instead of relying on unions, governments, and irresponsibility.

Stop faking it, stop talking, stop being lazy, and start working.

Update:

@ronbronson has written a great commentary post on this discussion. Do check it out.