In my last blog post I wrote about tapping into your inner untapped potential. Peppered throughout the medium-length thought piece that I hope helped some readers was the idea of “hustle.”
Today, the word carries a largely negative connotation. When we think of someone who “hustles,” we think of a con man or scam artist–someone who gets by in life by deceiving others and profiting him or herself. But the word hustle didn’t originate with any ill intentions, because that’s not what the word implies in a business or personal sense.
Ask any athlete what it means to hustle. Better yet, ask Major League Baseball all-time hits leader Pete Rose, also known by his nickname “Charlie Hustle.” Rose didn’t get this nickname by deceiving others or lying (that occurred later in his life), he earned the nickname by giving the metaphorical 110% effort on each and every play. Athletes from little league to the pros will back this notion up: hustle is the effort, the do-or-die mentality that shapes who you are. Hustle is running out a pop-up in the infield or risking your body to make a tackle when the game is all but over. Hustle is more than just what you do, it’s a mentality.
And hustle can make or break you in your business and personal life.
When my grandparents emigrated to the United States from Russia two generations ago, they didn’t come with full wallets, investment portfolios or fallback options. They came with a mentality that they instilled upon their children, which my parents instilled upon me: hustle.
They say when it comes to weight loss that it’s easier to keep yourself thin when you’re 20 than it is to try to get your overweight 30-year-old body back into it’s 20-year-old shape. The same can be said for business. It’s easier to stay on top and stay successful than it is to recover from a fall or build a successful business from the ground-up. But like staying in shape, building a business can be accomplished through hard work and perseverance.
If you have the hustle you don’t need a ton of capital, you can earn it. If you have the hustle you don’t need to find opportunity, you should create it. The real importance of hustle isn’t just in capitalizing on a business opportunity or lead presented to you, it’s going out and finding those opportunities and creating them from scratch.
So where does hustle come from? For many, it’s intrinsic, given to them as a gift during the formative years by parents or guardians. Watching your parents work day in and day out to provide for your family shows you first-hand the value of hustle. Taking handouts and gimmies from people doesn’t teach hustle or provide a means to an end–in fact, it might create more problems than it solves.
Hustle can also manifest itself in someone over time, as it did in the case of my grandparents. They needed to hustle to feed the hungry mouths of their children. They were the defining force of hustle in my life that helped to instill that mentality across generations and ensure that I would continue their legacy of hard work and a “never settle” attitude.
Keep on hustling.