Hustle is bullshit.
Used to be, it meant something. Did something. Maybe even changed lives.
Not anymore. Like all things hitting critical mass, it’s jumped the shark and lost its meaning. It’s become a bait and switch.
At first it was about doing the work.
Now it’s just about doing work.
And that difference is everything.
Hustle has become a way to sedate the masses and siphon money to the few, while the many work on the cheap, churning out content and trying to spend their way out of their problems. And, yeah, it lets you you keep the faith and believe in possibility when the grind gets too hard and the treadmill gets too long. But you do it wrong, and it will bury you just the same.
And most people are doing it wrong.
I know a guy…
He’s kind. Dignified. Educated. An engineer. He’s also a black belt. Not just one of those two-year, insta-black belts you get at the belt factories, but the real deal. He’s something like 6 degrees in. Has his own dojo. Rules the mat like a boss.
Except he’s working at Amazon to keep the dojo running. This man. This powerful man. With those qualifications. And that education.
And there he is, burning through his days fulfilling orders at 15 bucks an hour, working ridiculous shifts, non-stop, because that’s what he’s gotta do, if he wants to keep the job.
That’s how things roll, now.
You work to support your business instead your business supporting you. How fucked up is that?
All to keep the dream alive.
And he’s not the only one. I can’t even count the people I know in the same boat. Watching their money bleed out. Desperately trying to find ways to turn their time into cash. And they’re working hard. Seriously hard. They don’t have more time. More energy. They don’t have more hustle to give.
And that’s the thing of it.
For all of us to be good consumers and to keep the industrial complex churning, you need to dangle that carrot of hope in front of everyone’s glazed and tired eyes.
If people don’t think they can have a better life, why would they pay for solutions, after all?
Hustle is the opiate.
A mantra to help you self-soothe, while you enter an endless loop of self-improvement, rebooting your life every moment of every day like a new year’s resolutions that never ends.
There you are. You just need more hustle, you say. That’s the secret sauce. To hit 6 figures. 7 figures. To finally live, while you put living off.
It’s always a new day. A new month. A new year.
It’s always a New You. (As if something were wrong with the hold you.)
You’ve seen those shiny, sexy little quick-fix solutions.
Build a funnel…
Start a business…
Run some ads…
Create a blog…
Just click, watch the free webinar, and sign up for the fix. Then, one day soon, you too will be watching the cash pour in taking, while you’re on ski lifts in Aspen. Imagine it. You pick up your phone. The orders start clanging like a slot machine on tilt. All that money. That beautiful, sexy, easy money, flowing right into your account.
All that’s left is to take a few selfies while you’re at the top of the slope, so you can make sure everyone knows you’ve made it.
But it doesn’t work like that. Hustle isn’t meant to get you that. It doesn’t work that way. And when you think it does, it becomes toxic, leaving you wondering how much more you can take and why you’re missing your own life.
You know why hustle dies?
Because people are stooopid.
(I know, I know. WTF, Spencer. Did you just call me stupid? Well, yes…but I mean it kindly.)
And make no mistake about it. We’re all stooopid at some point on the way. Don’t think you get a free pass. We all start off knowing nothing, hoping for more, unsure what to do, easily lured by the shiny, glittery possibility of it all.
But when you’re in that magical land of I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-doing, no matter how much zest and zeal you bring to the table, hustle is not the problem you have to solve.
It’s knowing what the hell you’re doing.
It’s getting good.
And this is where people get it wrong. They think hustle is a path to the results, when it needs to be a path to getting good.
So, yeah, hustle sounds nice.
It’s simple. It’s empowering. The only formula you need: Do the work. Reap the rewards.
But if you don’t channel it the right way, you’re just burning through time.
It reminds of a cartoon character I used to watch when I was a kid.
The Tasmanian Devil.
He’d spin like a whirling dervish on steroids (with claws) in a constant cloud of buzzy energy, ripping apart anything and everything that came into his vortex. No intention. No purpose. Just energy unbound.
That’s how hustle usually looks.
It’s Headless Chicken Entrepreneurship.
All motivation. No inspiration.
And you know the difference between motivation and inspiration?
One depletes itself. The other replenishes itself.
Why? Because inspiration is directed.
The opposite is having no idea what you want to do at all, but just knowing you want a truckload of cash, a boatload of fame, and a glitzy, glossy life.
And it’s always draining.
And that’s the thing about goals. Most of the time, we have no idea why we really want them. And if hustle doesn’t help you get there, then it won’t do what it needs to do. Or can do. Instead, it gets you stuck between the ultimate rock and hard place.
Because here’s what’s on the other side of hustle: Hacks.
Hack your time. Hack your life. Hack your work day. Put in 4 hours a week. Get rich beyond belief in return.
But that doesn’t get you anywhere, either.
Because most of the hacks don’t work. At least not well enough.
You know who’s good with short cuts? Experts. Because they put in the time to know their shit.
That’s the irony. Putting in the time lets you save time. And if you don’t, you can’t.
Instead, what happens is one hack fails, so you start trying to find another hack so that you can hack your hack, layering one stack of uselessness on top of another, until you’re burning through entire days just to find the right app to solve a problem you could have done with a pencil and paper in 15 minutes.
Ever notice how many apps there are that fundamentally exist because we don’t have enough resolve?
But you know what creates a lack of resolve? Not owning your shit, and trying to find an app to do it all for you.
And that’s like the relationship between hustle and hacks.
We crave hacks, because we’re spending too much time hustling. And we need to hustle, because we’re wasting too much time trying to hack our lives.
The problem is low-hanging-fruit hustle.
That’s the bait-and-switch.
We think when we hustle, we’re doing what’s hard.
But even though hustle might be hard work, it’s not the same as doing the work that’s hard.
Usually, it’s the opposite. And that’s the real problem.
The real power of hustle isn’t that it lets you do lots of work. It’s that it lets you do the work that means a lot.
In other words, you need to overcome the resistance lodged between the two ends of that thick, protective skull.
The thing that whispers in your ear with hot and balmy breath to run from the hard.
See, when you convince yourself that ploughing into your problems headfirst with reckless abandon is the same as dealing with your shit, hustle winds up looking like wheel-spinning with side dish of gauze-thin empowerment and a whiff of bullshit.
You convince yourself you’re doing what you need to do, when you know, deep down, you’re really running away from it.
Reminds me of something I see in my kid.
When he does his math, he refuses to write out the steps. He’ll argue about it until he’s blue in the face with sweat dripping from his throbbing forehead. He thinks it slows him down. It wastes precious time. (In other words, it takes him away from playing Fortnite.)
And he’s pretty good at math. He can make it work for most problems.
But maybe every third time he does his homework, there’s a question or two where he makes a stupid mistake, and he can’t figure out why or where, because he didn’t write it out.
And if he did, he’d see what he did, easily.
But instead, he’ll try solve the problem over and over, getting the wrong answer every time.
Pretty soon, he’s blown two hours on a fifteen minute assignment, and he’s been reduced to a pile of fiery, furious, and tearful mush. He’s huffing. He’s puffing. Throwing shit around. You get it.
And as he spirals out of control, it only gets harder to solve the problem.
But worse, he believes he’s not any good at math. So the whole thing fills him with that much more dread, meaning that the next time he does his homework, he wastes that much more time, stalling and trying to spool up for it, which makes him even more anxious about finishing, which makes him get frustrated that much faster.
Remember the difference between motivation and inspiration?
That’s it right there.
Call it intention, if you like.
Goodness says to focus on what you’re doing. To focus on what matters, hard or not. Scary or not. It doesn’t make your time and your energy subservient to pie-in-the-sky fantasies, because you don’t do everything you do just for the results. You just do it because you know good matters.
You do it, because you know getting good makes you stronger.
You do it, because you know once you grow, you carry it with you in your body, mind, and heart. Forever.
And it’s an even better and simpler formula than hustle.
Get good. Get results.
Better yet, it bonds with you at a sub-atomic level, changing the very DNA of your self. It affects every decision you make for the rest of your life.
You get confident.
You become unstoppable.
It’s like the universe is suddenly on your side.
Good is hard.
It asks you to feel the texture of your life and deal with your shit. No turning away. No head in the sand.
But when you do, the world comes alive.
Ever notice how, when you have nothing to do in the most boring place, suddenly something as simple as drawing squiggly lines in a notebook or reading the slowest book mankind has ever known suddenly becomes fascinating? Even energizing?
Good does that.
There’s a Chinese saying that you have to go past boredom to find fascination.
And that’s the thing.
You have two lives.
The first is the hustle-and-hack life, where you’re a dopamine junking chasing low-hanging fruit with easy results that always fade, are never enough, and don’t change who you are. They feel good for a sliver of a second, then they vaporize.
Or you live the meaningful life. The one where you expand yourself, so you see what others don’t and see the fascination in everything, because you know it’s all about you and how much you can see, and not the carrots being dangled in front of your face.
And even though it ain’t easy, being good means you’re never a slave to approval or validation.
You’re not addicted to stimulation.
You’re just alive.
Good stretches time and space into possibility.
And truth is, you’ve got more than ample time to do what you want. No hacks necessary.
All those people? The ones who got it done? Who made something out of their lives? The ones whose names you see in lights? The ones you admire? Maybe even want to be?
They didn’t have longer days and more hours.
They just made the time more valuable.
And good does that.
Time is as abundant as you need it to be.
Because the question isn’t how much you did in your life. It’s not like you do more and you get more points and you win. The question is whether you used the time you had meaningfully.
Did you know that the origin of the word passion comes from Latin? (Of course you did. Because that’s always the answer, when people ask about these types of things.)
The root of passion is suffering. Not fun. Not easy. Not exciting. It’s the exact opposite of what most of us mean, when we say follow your passion and find your passion.
It’s about Suf. Fer. Ring.
Think of the passion of the Christ. Wasn’t no fun going on there.
And the reason it means suffering is because when you find your real passion, you find something so meaningful to you you’re willing to suffer for it. And that’s the real shit, right there. That’s where you want to be.
No low-hanging fruit.
No distracting yourself to high hell, so you tune out of the only life you’ve got.
Good is about diving right into the heart of it all and finding out what matters to you.
Because at the end of the day, you’re either running towards your life or away from it.
It’s always one or the other. And hustle can take either form. It’s not really a question of whether hustle is good or bad. There’s high-grade, high-octane, intention-driven hustle. And there’s junk-food, distraction-addled hustle. Hustle isn’t really the choice you have to make.
It’s much simpler.
Instead, just ask yourself…
Do you want to be good?