Do you need to hustle to be successful?
Do you have to hustle to be successful? There's been a lot of conversation in recent times around whether or not we put hustle on a pedestal. And to some extent, I agree that, ideally in a world where everything was all rainbows and sunshine and we didn't live in a capitalist world driven by who can do the most for the least amount of money, of course, it would be great to not have to hustle as hard.
But is that the reality? Especially when you're just starting out, especially in a competitive, creative environment? That's what we're gonna be diving into in today's episode. Hello, friend. I'm Alex and this is the Alex makes VR podcast. Let's dive in, shall we?
Read on for the full transcription or listen to the episode here
Hustle is an interesting word.I feel like it went from being quite a cool
word, like, it's cool to be hustling nonstop; It's cool to be on the grind; It's cool to be busy. And then in the last couple of years, and actually, especially since COVID, we've all gotten to slow down a little. We've all gotten to see what life would be like if we didn't have to be on that perpetual treadmill of work.
When we all envision what our dream life would be, none of us would be working 18 hours a day. But is there a reason why most successful people have at some point been obsessive and usually gone above and beyond? Is there a reason why in Silicon Valley, there's a very stereotypical image of these kind of people grouped together in a garage or a living room just constantly working 24/7 to bring something to fruition. There's something in that - it's a topic that I'm really kind of curious about, and it's one why I wanted to kind put my thoughts on the subject out because I am absolutely in a place of life right
now, where I would love to not hustle as hard. I would love to not feel as stretched thinly. I guess I would love to have the option of being able to take my foot off the gas pedal a little bit. But I think the other part is me the person that studies entrepreneur culture; the person that pays close attention to what successful people are doing. Someone who can pattern spot and see a correlation between the hours that I put into things and the amount of projects I take on versus, the reward that I get from that. It can be sometimes very, very, very difficult to turn that hustle switch off. And of course, there's the argument that well, there's always more to do. One of my favourite quotes is in one of my favourite business books by Tim Ferriss and in it he talks about busy-ness is a form of laziness. So this idea of hustle gets equated to quite often as this idea of constantly being busy, be grinding, be working 18 hour days. But in recent years, I've started thinking about hustlers more being smart and saying yes to opportunities that are going to propel me in the right direction. If that makes sense, I don't see hustling being cool to wake up at six and work until midnight. That doesn't feel right to me. That's not the point of hustle.
Right now, as I record this, it's close to 10pm. And I have set a rule for myself, since
COVID and since slowly getting back to working on projects after everything grinding to a halt during those first couple of months of the pandemic. I set a rule for myself, I didn't want to work past 8pm
and then new opportunities came up that were too good to turn down. So then I was like, I'm not gonna work past 9pm. And then in this last week, I've had like several things jump on my plate. And now I'm like, okay, it's creeping up to 10pm but I still want to do this, I still want to sit here and record this podcast, I still want to have this conversation with you. And actually, I don't even feel like this is a chore - this is stuff I love talking about. This is the kind of stuff that excites me. So what is that like? That's more of an example of hustle in my opinion. That is acknowledging this week is a bit full on because I've got several projects on the go. And if I was adhering to my own advice of taking a bit of a step back, being more kind to myself, respecting my time a little bit more and make sure I didn't have as much on my plates. Yes, I would not be doing this. Yeah. I would take setback. Yes, I would enjoy a bit of decompression time. And I would say no to some opportunities. But the hustler in me - like the part of me that knows that actually there is something to that initial push, initial grind to get you off
off the ground, that running down the runway in order to get that lift that's gonna propel you up into the sky. That's a really, really important phase when you work in the creative industries. And so yes, there is absolutely a time and a place to say no to things. And that's working smart, not working necessarily as hard. But sometimes it will come down to, you know, you've got a lot of opportunities. They're all equally as good for you, you your career, your life, your future prospects, and you've just got to get it done. And in that scenario, the person that hustles the hardest, will probably reap the rewards. And maybe I'm going to get some backlash for saying that. Maybe it's not the thing that people want to hear. Maybe people want to hear that they can achieve crazy levels of success and only work an eight hour day. And maybe you can, maybe you are the 1% that is so gifted and so extremely focused on one particular thing and bam, you are that 1% that makes it happen. And if that's you, oh, my goodness, I'm so jealous, but I'm so happy for you. And maybe you're listening and actually, your dream life is a lot more humble. Or maybe your ambitions at the moment at this stage in life aren't as big but if you are someone who is sitting there wanting the earth, if you want to be that 1% if you want to be living that 1% life, if you want to be able to create opportunities for yourself that are those kind of big, exciting, world changing, earth shattering, super proud, kind of showing off at your high school reunion being the boss like, you know, being the celebrity of the group. And I don't mean celebrity, like just a celebrity. I mean, you're a celebrity of the person that of the people that went to high school because you did so well.
If you want that then I hate to tell you but especially when you're in that early stage of your career, especially when you are in that kind of that phase where you're just getting off the ground, where you're just networking, where you're just getting your feet wet with with people, the people that can catalyst and help you with your career. Opportunities are going to come in and you're going to have to grind. That's just the truth. And it ebbs and flows.
I'm super excited by what's happening with the podcast. And I could have decided not to do it daily. But I really enjoy doing it daily. And I'm really enjoying the interaction that I'm getting from you guys. And I feel so satisfied and fulfilled and this is something that I'm really proud of, and something that I really just get excited about. Thinking about it, I get excited about it. Even on days where I don't necessarily feel in the mood to do any kind of work, I still get in the rhythm of doing these podcasts because I just really love it. But then I've also got, three other projects are all equally exciting or equally as good for my career. Some of them are obviously, much more well paid than others. Some of them are much more high profile than others. But they are all equally exciting to me.
And so I have the choice, I can either risk losing out on some of these opportunities, and hoping that they come around again, or accepting that, you know, the next week or two, maybe it's going to be a bit more of a grind, but then I'm going to have a Lola gal, and I'm going to be so proud of myself. I'm going to be so excited that I stuck with it, but I got through it and then it's up to me right? Then it's up to me to decide to work smart. And what can I delegate? What am I doing? And this is another thing that I really enjoyed in the four hour workweek by Tim Ferriss. Talking about some of the stuff that you cut out, the stuff that you are wasting time on. So he talks about this idea of time batching so when you're hustling, the whole idea is that you're making the most of your time, right? But you could be wasting time on things ,like, I don't know, an example might be - I get an email today that tells me I need to pay my accountants. So I've got a choice. I can stop what I'm doing and switch tasks, pay that accountants bill. And that might take only like 10 minutes or something, but it'll still take 10 minutes. And then I have to switch back to my tasks that I was doing, which is most likely a quite intensive thought, deep thinking kind of task like script writing or something like that. And then I have to get back into that zone, which for me takes a little while because it's a natural state.
So, Tim Ferriss talks about that, that idea of the cost of task switching and that in itself will stretch my day out longer. There's a study that says takes 20 minutes for you to get your focus back when you get distracted by something that's why you should turn your notifications off, on your phone which I experiment with. I like to leave one or two of my apps notifications on just because I have clients and and family and close friends that get me on those channels but I try and turn everything else off. I think a lot of you know this already about me but I delete Instagram after I post because I could go down a whole rabbit hole spending hours on that thing and if it's on my phone, when I boil that kettle, get a cup of tea I will just mindlessly open the app on autopilot and I'm not conscious of what I'm doing. So I've started to not only recognise when it is time for me to buckle down and do a bit more work or but also when I should probably be taking out for me mental health. Being a bit smarter about making the most of that time.
So hustle - I think it gets a bad rep than other parts of this puzzle and I've kind of touched on this idea of hustle shouldn't feel hard unnecessarily because if you're taking on tasks that you actually really enjoy and are things that are going to benefit your career and are things that are super important and integral to the process that you are in building your company or whatever, actually hustle can a lot of the time feel like a lot of fun.
And yeah, obviously there's like downsides of it but the overriding feeling should be like this is good. As soon as anything starts to tip too far in favour of being negative on your mental health or physical health. That's when it's time to call it quits. That's when it's no good. Of course - the thing with taking on too much is especially if it doesn't a purpose you can burn out. And that's just a recipe for disaster.
I feel like I'm all over the place with what I'm talking about here. But I just thought it was an interesting topic to explore and kind of air my thoughts about it.
I'd be so curious to hear your thoughts about it because I feel it is a very divisive topic. You're either very for it or very against it. You're either very on the hustle bandwagon and very like you know, you just work work and work and you understand the benefits of that and you understand why you have to do that. Or you're not, you know what I mean?
I've been in several situations where I've burnt out or taken on too much or I've hustled a little bit too hard and it's not paid off etc. Don't get me wrong, I have been in those positions. But what really annoys me is when people in my life who want to live a similar life to me, bitch and moan about the fact that they don't have that opportunity, or they kind of they see me and go "Oh, you know, yeah, you are just so lucky." And absolutely, there is an element of luck. I'm not going to deny that but what they fail to recognise is whilst they were going and getting pissed on the weekend and having a four day weekend; going out every night; playing games; watching films, whatever it might be, whatever pastime it might be - spending loads of time with their partner, whatever it was, I was probably working.
I was probably working a second job in the evening after finishing a first job earlier in the day. I was probably on a train to London running on five hours sleep because I'd just finished another project. I was probably putting a train ticket on a credit card so that I could go to that networking event so that I could put myself in the right circles to be even in with a chance of getting an opportunity that would put me on to the path that I wanted for my life. So yes, of course there is luck and of course there is an element of talent and skill and natural ability. Some of you listening right now are probably a way better photographer than I am or a way better illustrator or designer or an even director like even things that I would consider myself specialist in. But one of the things that I consider myself to be quite uniquely talented in is pattern spotting and understanding, marketing and business. It's just something that I've just always been brought up around. It's something that I've just had a natural knack for understanding, I think probably, I'm obsessed with people. I just love people. I just love communicating. I love understanding why we communicate. I love understanding behaviour. I love understanding relationship dynamics, fascinated by psych psychoanalysis, and just deep deep understanding and an empathy and wanting to kind of know what's going on in someone's head. So, of course, there's like an element of that, that feeds into the fact that of course, I'm gonna hustle a bit harder and reap rewards in the realm of business and marketing because I've been naturally blessed to have some of that. But whatever you're uniquely talented in, whatever you're uniquely blessed in or gifted or even worked so hard to be talented in your craft, to an extent - that will only take you so far.
The rest is consistency and hustle. So every single day, you need to be doing something that builds towards the life you want for yourself. You need to be building you. You need to be laying down those tracks. You need to be taking one step every single day in the right direction. That's why it's so important to think about what that life is that you do want for yourself or what is the big project that you want to work on, or what is the creative endeavour that you want to pursue next and make sure that you know that have that crystal clear in your head so that every day when you assess opportunities, you can say yes, this will be taking one step in that right direction towards that goal.
So that's the consistency part. Then the other part is acknowledging that when those opportunities show up, oh, boy, you got to grab them and you've got to run with them. Don't walk, run, run until your lungs hurt, run until you feel like your legs are gonna give out from underneath you. You got to run, run, run, run as fast as you can for as long as you can, until the opportunity is solidified. And then you can breathe And then you can slow down. And then you will reap the benefits of that. I promise you, I promise you. So I know that it's not particularly cool to promote hustle culture anymore. I know that especially during COVID, there's been like a massive movement towards like, productivity is not cool. Like, why do we pursue productivity? And I'm like, don't get me wrong. I wish that we lived in a world where that wasn't the case. I wish that we lived in a world where we didn't have to be as on it to like see the kind of financial and, and critical success that we all want in life. I wish that wasn't the case. But the truth is the current world that we're living in, that is the truth, the truth is that you do have to show up. You do have to sometimes, work harder than everyone else. You do have to sometimes go that extra mile if you want to live that kind of extra life, you know.
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