If you’ve spent any time at all looking for help starting or growing your small business, you will have come across the “Hustle Harder” crowd. They’re going to tell you they or some other prominent success story got ahead by giving up absolutely everything, becoming a total workaholic, and grinding out 100+ hour work weeks.
Invariably these guys are Young Turks who seem like they’ve way too much caffeine, or more likely, too many energy drinks.
Too Much Hustle Comes From Fear, Ignorance, and Misplaced Enthusiasm
I’ve been there. In my first startup I vividly remember working from 8am to 2am 7 days a week to try to force our first product out the door. I was 23 years old and I had no earthly idea how to improve my changes other than by working as hard as I was physically able.
It was all coming from Fear, Ignorance, and Misplaced Enthusiasm. I was a wild-eyed youngster with a big bag full of venture capital and an unrealistic deadline to meet. Gosh we spent a lot of energy blunting our spears on things that didn’t matter and just generally not getting much done any sooner than an older wiser version of myself would be able to do years later, but without all the Sturm and Drang.
Too Much Hustle Leads to Burnout, Exhaustion, and Mistakes
Look, I get it–hustle is exciting, it creates energy you can feed off, and it’s actually pretty easy to drive yourself harder. For a while. Then it gets old. You get burned out.
Dang, real burnout can be so debilitating, and you don’t even realize it. But it’s a vicious cycle because you get addicted to the hustle. Suddenly, you’re having these kinds of unhealthy thoughts:
- You feel like just working harder can fix any problem in your life.
- You feel stressed whenever you’re not working because you should be hustling harder.
- You start neglecting other things besides work that are important in your life. Things like your family, your health, or getting a decent night’s sleep.
- You have no time for your friends, so your social life withers and you drift apart.
- You’re juggling so many balls so fast that you start dropping a few. Some of the balls dropped turn out to be quite important. You’re making more mistakes than you used to.
- You’re so much less efficient than you used to be. Tasks that should’ve been simple suddenly drag on. Are you being productive hustling or just milking the time to move the clock?
Now it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that those things are not going to improve your productivity or help you to be more successful.
Hustlers Start Over Again and Again
Remember that old story of Sisyphus from Greek Mythology, rolling that gigantic rock uphill over and over again. That’s what it’s like to be a Hustler. There’s no leverage, no automation, no ability to benefit much. You just go back in and push harder. You can achieve a lot of things through Hustling, but you never get ahead in the long term, only on the immediate task of the day. And then you have to Hustle again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.
I don’t know about you, but I want to get ahead in some leveragable way. It’s okay to hustle for a little bit, but I don’t want to spend my life building a net worth that’s based solely on how many cubic hours I can put to the task. It’d be nice if being smart, or investing in some learning or other asset would make a lasting difference in my future growth trajectory.
But so long as your main tool for improving your game is to up your hustle, it isn’t going to happen.
Hustling Harder Is a Bush League Tactic
I’m just going to say it: Hustling Harder is a Bush League Tactic. A Pro will not count on More Hustle to win the day. At best, a Pro will Hustle Harder on a very short-term basis to get something Really Important done so it can have an impact sooner or to avoid a massive negative impact. If cranking up the Hustle becomes a way of life, you’re using it wrong.
To create consistent growth, you need a System, not continuous turn the volume up to 11 Hustle Harder tactics.
It Doesn’t Matter How Smart You Are, If The Other Guy Knows The Answer And You Have To Learn It, He Wins. A System Gives You the Answers So You Can Win Too.
A long time ago, I realized that it doesn’t matter how smart you are, if the other guy knows the answer and you have to learn it, he wins. It’s the same with having a System. If you pit Hustle against a proven System, the System is going to win every time. You don’t have the time while Hustling to figure out all the nuances and advantages that are built into a polished System.
Having a System optimized for whatever task you need to accomplish is awesome, but hard to come by. Only the most important tasks that a large number of people have to take on have such Systems available.
A pilot has a System for every possible emergency, and he has trained, possibly on a simulator, for each one. That’s because the price of failure for pilots is very high. Same for your doctor, especially if they’re performing major surgery to correct a life-threatening situation.
Where Small Business is concerned, there are many areas where you can find Systems to help with your biggest problems. I put together a system for customer growth of my main business CNCCookbook that drove the site from zero to 4.5 million visitors a year as I write this.
You’ll be able to use the same System that I used for CNCCookbook and other companies before that if you choose to join my Customer Critical Mass course.
But what do you do if your task has no System tailored specifically for it?
Good News: There are Systems designed to make your work on any task more productive. When you don’t have a special System to use (or often even if you do), use one of these Productivity Systems.
I use one I’ve developed over the years constantly. It’s got a few moving parts, but it is the Foundational System of my day. And I will give it to you absolutely free for joining my mailing list. You see, I am putting it all together in an online course called Work Smarter and Get Things Done. It has served me well over the years. In fact, it is the oldest system I use, as I literally developed it to help get out of the Hustle Trap my very first startup landed me. It even includes a free piece of software I developed to help support the process.
Here’s my favorite part of the Work Smarter system–it shows you how to use breaks to stay refreshed and focused. Come on, you’ve gotta love that, especially since it works so well!
If you’d like to have this Productivity System for yourself, just get on my mailing list and I’ll hook you up with it.
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4 Replies to “Bush League Tactic #1: Hustle Harder”
In my machine shop, the first thing I tell my operators is “Go slow. Take your time. You will get faster as you learn the job.” The best machinists move methodically and purposely throughout the day.
This is definitely something I still struggle with – despite 40 years in high-tech. I try to picture myself working on a ship. I can either shlep coal in the engine room where I can’t see where I’m headed, OR I can be on the bridge where I can see and plan. The trick is incorporating a little bit of each into a work week.