In today’s entrepreneurial culture, hustling is a source of pride for many. But the question must be asked: Should we be proud of hustle? Is there any other way to maintain success? And if hustle is a good thing, at what point does it go overboard and become workaholism?
It’s not that we haven’t yet conceived of a better way to get things done. It’s just that, as a culture, we haven’t yet figured out how to implement it.
“Workaholics don’t save the day, they just use it up. The real hero is at home because she found a better way.”
– Jason Fried
Hustle is a stepping stone
Entrepreneurs all owe some (or maybe even all) of our success to hustle. The stats for startup success are daunting.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “A bit more than 50 percent of small businesses fail in the first four years. Of all small businesses started in 2011, 4 percent made it to the second year, 3 percent made it to the third year, and 9 percent made it to the fourth year.”
Clearly, entrepreneurship is survival of the fittest, and putting in a bit (or a lot) of hustle in those early years is unavoidable if you want to be around in 5 years. But that same driving force that gets a business off the ground can be its very downfall.
When we‘re hustling, we’re distracted. We’re busy. And once caught in this cycle, it becomes depressingly predictable. You worked 60 hours last week, and there’s so much to do, you’ll work another 60 this week. Even more exhausting and unpredictable is the fact that revenue plateaus as well, and your income today is unlikely to be the same income you earn a year from now, or 5 years from now. There’s only so much time, and when systems aren’t in place, you can’t scale your business comfortably.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and we can’t avoid hustle in every moment of our growing businesses. But society has been stuck in hustle overdrive for a while now. We’re using our hustle muscles to do everything at once and blatantly ignoring other strategies. At this rate, burnout sets in. We see entrepreneurs bottoming out, or worse, succeeding in business but hating their daily grind. Simply put, it’s not sustainable.
When it’s time to transition
Hustle may work for a while, but then comes burnout.
Ironically, even though hustling got you to where you are, you can’t level up until you unlearn hustle. This is something that throws so many entrepreneurs for a loop because it’s not what they’ve been taught. There’s no detailed blueprint or even a crash course for the post-hustle entrepreneur. Teaching someone how to end the hustle and transition to a new way of work is like trying to verbally teach someone to surf. You can provide a general concept, but they simply have to get up and try it, over and over, if they’re ever going to master it.
“Hustle tries to sprint a marathon. Hustle makes us feel like we’ve got to be sprinting ALL the time. But most of our best work as creatives and entrepreneurs comes out when we’re moving at a marathon pace.”
– Chase Reeves
We worship hard work, and that has served us to some extent. But it’s time for a new paradigm. The hustlers of the world who have built their empires must graduate to the next level of mastery: from hustle to flow.
Hustle mindset says, “At the very least, I’ll survive. I’ll be ok. I’ll keep doing the same amount of business.” But this mindset is rooted in scarcity.
Flow mindset says, “How can we simplify? How can it get even better? How can we have more fun with this?” This mindset allows for new ideas, opportunities and more earning potential.
When we step out of hustle, we literally confront the human mind’s ultimate fears: change, failure and the unknown. But the thing is, hustle in overdrive isn’t nearly as safe as we think it is. It doesn’t keep us from going bankrupt or going out of business, because many hustlers have. It doesn’t keep us close with our families, as many hustlers end up divorced. The sense of safety it provides is ultimately false.
The future of hustle
In the future, entrepreneurs will know hustle overdrive in a very different way than we know it now. It won’t be a necessity, or even the norm. It will be a last resort; a set of actions taken only when absolutely necessary.
Hustle got us to where we are. Hard work has dominated the entrepreneurial world for a long time. It’s no secret we owe a lot of our success and survival as a species to hard, grueling labor. But as that paradigm comes to a close, we’re still gripping onto hustle as the only means to an end.
Our fear-based thinking patterns scream, “If not hard work, then what?” Now, we’re challenged to start leaving space for that question to be answered.