Why I Refuse to Give Into the “Hustle” Mentality

You’ve heard the term thrown around a lot over the last few years. Hustle. Everybody is doing it. The story goes something like this…

The only way you’ll make it as a writer, an artist, a musician, an athlete, a designer, or anything else, is to hustle. You have to work overtime. You have to stay up late every night. Weekends? No. You don’t get weekends. You have to work. And you have to network. Constantly. Otherwise, you’re doomed for failure and obscurity.

What Does It Really Mean “to Hustle?”

Let’s look at some of the common definitions of the word: hustle.

  1. Force someone to move hurriedly or unceremoniously in a specified direction.
  2. Obtain by forceful action or persuasion.
  3. Busy movement and activity.
  4. A fraud or a swindle.

But let’s take a deeper look. I just finished reading a book by rock & roll legend, Patti Smith, called, Just Kids. Patti’s partner was the famous photographer, Robert Mapplethorpe. This was the late 1960s and early 1970s. For Mapplethrope and many others, “to hustle” meant to sell one’s own body to make money. And the word still carries a connotation of prostituting one’s self.

The Problems With the Hustle

I see a few problems with hustling:

  1. To hustle means to sell yourself. I don’t have a problem with selling one’s work. But selling one’s soul in the process is too much. Being successful doesn’t have to include giving up parts of yourself that are pure and sacred. There is a purity to art, music, and writing. Hold on to it.
  2. To hustle means to hurry. Great works of art cannot be rushed. Not only can we lose something sacred or pure by hustling, we can also sell ourselves short. Our work might suffer lower quality for the sake of creating more. I’d rather create one masterpiece than 100 pieces of mediocrity.
  3. To hustle means to sacrifice. Sometimes we have to sacrifice in order to become better at what we do. But if we sacrifice our own family, our friends, our health, what good are our accomplishments? We become a shooting star. Our work might get recognized, but at what cost?

I’m Taking the No-Hustle Route

For the last few years I’ve occasionally fallen prey to the hustle mentality. Still, I’ve always tried to retain a sense of balance in my life. But I’ve caught myself doing too much for the sake of the game. I’ve found myself doing the following:

  • Just writing one more blog post in advance.
  • Sharing one more post on social media, looking for likes and retweets.
  • Offering to write guest posts to attempt to increase blog traffic.
  • Accepting invitations for podcast interviews even though I have a full schedule.
  • Spending time on my computer when my daughter wants to play a game or watch a movie.
  • Eating poorly and not exercising just so I can try to get more done.

I’ve had enough of the hustle mentality. I’d rather live my life than work it away. Success doesn’t always mean professional success. It can also simply mean living in a healthy and balanced manner. I encourage you to think twice before getting caught up in the hustle.

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