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#79: The Problem with Hustle Culture

Key Takeaways

  • What does it mean to hustle, anyway?
  • The problem with hustle for the sake of hustling
  • Hustle & burnout
  • The difference between you and the gurus
  • What to do instead
  • Tired of hearing about hustle this, 4 hour work week that? There's another way. Listen here! #podernfamily #podcast #hustle

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    Jen McFarland Jen McFarland Consulting Third paddle

    About Host Jen McFarland

    Jen McFarland ditched her comfy C-suite tech project management job in pursuit of freedom. Jen’s goal is to help business leaders like you vet ideas, take ownership of their projects, and incorporate digital marketing from day one.

    If growing your business feels like rocket science, let’s fix that with these free business resources.

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    The Problem with Hustle Culture Women Conquer Business

    Transcript: The Problem with Hustle Culture

    My name is Jen McFarland. I help business owners like you lead, plan, and execute their projects for maximum impact. Women-led businesses receive less funding. Our businesses are more successful. As consumers, we hold the first strings. It's time for us to take on the business world. Welcome to Women Conquer Business. [music]

    The main thing I wanted to talk about is I have a sometimes weekly newsletter. I say sometimes weekly because if I don't feel moved to write, I don't send it out. But most of the time I have something on my mind that I want to share. And I write a big intro about what's on my mind. And then I share things about the podcast, maybe some events. It's really fun. And if you want to sign up for it, please go to jenmcfarland.com/free, and you can get your hands on it. I love it. It's a labor of love. 

    That's why I send it out.

    This week, I talked about an experience I had on Lyft that has weaved its way into the podcast a couple of different times. But the thread that I wanted to pull is about hustle culture. We've had a couple of episodes where we talk about things like burnout, the health repercussions of burnout. And yet, we all live in hustle culture. As entrepreneurs, we're encouraged, in fact, to live in a hustle. And I've always found that to be something I'm not fully in alignment with. Why do we have to be in this hustle, this cultural hustle, all the time going and getting things? And as I was reflecting on it this morning, I was wondering why do I feel so misaligned with the hustle? And I was like, maybe it's because of what that word has always meant for me. And I was like, maybe I'm thinking of the wrong word. And then I looked it up, and I was like, "No. This is the same word."

    So for those of you who haven't gotten to know your dictionary in a while, (I seem to be very well-acquainted with mine) hustle is to force someone to move hurriedly or unceremoniously in a specified direction to obtain by forcible action or persuasion. Those are the verbs. And then the nouns are busy movement and activity. And then the informal North American is a fraud or swindle. And I thought, "Okay. This is where the misalignment is for me." And this is where the misalignment is for other people like me who maybe define success in ways that are not simply number of clients and amount of money but a more holistic approach to what success looks like.

    And the reason this came up for me today is I was hanging out after breakfast, and I was like, "What do I have to do today?" And I started to go through, mentally, in my podcast checklist. Because a podcast doesn't just happen by chance. A podcast happens because you've worked on it really hard. And you have marketed it. And you've done all of the things to make it sound good. My podcast typically comes out on a Monday, and that means that on Sunday, I'm doing a lot of work around marketing, getting the word out. If I have a guest, I have to let the guest know what was going on. This is all kind of part of the, I guess, podcast hustle for being successful, right?

    I was going through that checklist, and then I was like, "Wait. I don't have to do that today. I gave myself Monday off. There's no podcast episode on September 2nd, and I was like, "Oh, that feels kind of good." And then I was like, "I showed myself a little grace." Because I've been really busy, I've been traveling around. I have been busy with family. We've had guests. I'm traveling again over the course of the next couple of weeks, and it just felt right to take a day off for the first time in over a year. I was like, "Yeah, that's cool." And then I thought about burn out, and then I thought about the hustle. That's why hustle culture is one of the things that I'm ruminating on. When I first started my business, I was reading a lot. And the thing I was most concerned with was sales, always sales. And the reason I was so concerned with sales is I've never done that before. So I fell into listening to Gary Vaynerchuk, and I discovered somebody named Grant Cardone who talks a lot about sales and they were going through what their day looks like, and it was like, "Okay. This is what I have to do. I have to do this. This is the day that I have to have." I realized that that isn't me. I realized that that day isn't exactly how I want my day to work.

    Now, if you're going to tell me that I'm not as successful as those men, this segment isn't for you. If you're going to tell me that I have to move people and persuade them forcibly, this segment isn't for you. If you believe in influence and discussing ideas and what those ideas are like, then this segment is for you. You see, if you are a solopreneur or a small business owner, you don't have the bandwidth for the hustle that they're talking about. You don't have a staff of like a hundred people; you don't have handlers who are saying, "You need to be here; you need to go there." You don't have somebody recording your segments, editing them for you, and making sure that everything gets out to social.

    Now, you might be telling me, "Oh, Gary Vaynerchuk posts his stuff to Twitter." And that's true. That's what he says. And you might say, "Well, he only sleeps four hours a night." That's true. That's what he says. But not everybody can do that and not everybody values that more than everything else. I'm not suggesting that you lounge around and don't do anything, that you don't hustle. I'm suggesting that hustle has a couple of different sides to it. Hustle needs to be something that you are aligned with and this notion that we have of what hustle is and what hustle isn't may not be a fit for you in what you've got going on because hustle is a two-sided, maybe three-sided coin. 

    I don't know if there is such a thing.

    But if we're talking about busy movement and activity, when I help my clients, what I am helping my clients with is making sure that that busy movement and activity are worthwhile and it's attached to something ideally a big-time goal so that it makes sense for them. I'm suggesting that when you hustle for the sake of the hustle, it's entirely possible that hustling for the sake of the hustle might mean that you start moving into forcing someone in a direction. I'm not going to suggest that you are a fraud or swindling people. I think that that's a whole separate thing that could be happening that has something to do with values. That's up to you. 

    What I am saying is obtaining by forceful action or persuasion, if that doesn't align with you, that's okay. And it doesn't mean that you are a failure. It just means that you may need to go about things a little bit differently. It also means that if you are hustling for the sake of hustling because you've read it in every single book about entrepreneurship, you have to understand that Tim Ferriss isn't just working four hours a week. Gary Vaynerchuk has people helping him make and take targeted action so that he is maximizing his time throughout the day. And that many of us don't have a handler or a team of handlers. 

    We have to make targeted movements ourselves. And it might mean that we get more rest. And it might mean that we take care of ourselves and practice a lot more self-care. And it might mean that that busy movement and activity isn't just for the sake of movement. I think sometimes we do a lot of things just for the sake of moving, and that isn't necessarily the way to go.

    There's a beauty in stillness. We forget that. We are on social media all the time. We are going to networking events all the time. We are tweaking our funnels and doing speaking gigs, and doing all of the things. But what about our families? What about walking around barefoot in the grass? What about taking a nap during the day? This glorious thing that you used to do as a kid that maybe you haven't done for years because you "shouldn't do that." You see, all of these things that are about caring for yourself, that's part of the hustle too. Stillness, getting to know yourself, enjoying being around you and the people who matter the most, that's the anti-hustle.

    And that's what I think we need to start focusing on. The more time we spend outside of the fast lane is the time that we have to make the connections that matter most. If you're moving by force and you're getting everything by force, then things are coming at you by force. And you may not be prepared for that? Maybe you are. Bravo. But if you're not, don't beat yourself up about that. You see, the hustle looks different for everyone. Anyone who reads these books by all of these so-called gurus, and then tries to replicate that for their own lives, and then becomes frustrated when it doesn't work. It doesn't mean you're a failure. It doesn't mean you've failed yourself. It just means that how they do it isn't the way that you do it. 

    And that's fine because you're a different person than they are. And just because they make more money than you doesn't mean that they're more successful either. Maybe they aren't a success in the way that you define success. I think that's entirely possible. Maybe the first step before stepping into the hustle is getting a clear guide and sense of what success means to you, what your goals are, what all that busy movement is really about.

    Because if you're not clear about what success means and what success looks like and what your goals are, you're just throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks. This isn't about having a plan; this is about core beliefs. This is about personal alignment before you race around and make sales and embrace the hustle culture. Get out there. Do good things. Hug your family. Hustle less. Love more.


    Hey ladies. I know you're working so hard to grow your business. A business that aligns with your vision and your values. A business that supports your lifestyle. And I know it's been a bumpy ride sometimes. I see it all the time. Women are overspending on shiny objects and magic pills because they're tired of not seeing results. Business decisions based on short-term gains without a critical eye toward the future. Most heartbreaking of all, women who walk away because it's just too damn hard. The good news is you're not alone. You have support all around you if you're ready to take joyful action on your biggest business goals. If you need strategy, accountability, and a path to get you exactly where you want to go, let me know because I'm here to support you as a consultant and strategist.

    You can fill out a quick application to work together at jenmcfarland.com/ready. I have opened up just a few spots over the next couple of months for clients who are ready to make a move. It only takes a few minutes at jenmcfarland.com/ready

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