For the love of everything that is good, please PLEASE stop chanting how much you "Hustle"! There. I said it. That thought has been rattling around my mind for a couple of years now, like an annoying loose can of soda rolling around in the trunk of your car, waiting to explode. Actually, it has been one year and nine months, to be exact. That is the amount of time that has passed since I walked away from my mid-level executive management job with a Fortune 500 company. I loved that job. I lived for that job. I HUSTLED for that job. At least that is what I thought I was doing. In actuality, I had a blood pressure cuff that sat on my desk every single day. In actuality, I missed my kids' choir concerts. In actuality, I ignored phone calls from my elderly mother because my meeting was much too important. In actuality, I had not seen my best friend in months, even though we lived less than an hour from each other. Why? Because I was important. I was necessary. I was grinding. I was HUSTLING.
Then it happened. Nope, not a heart attack. No, the company did not downsize. Huh uh, I did not lose a loved one (thanks be). My husband, whom I adore and respect, told me something that resonated so profoundly with me. It was a Monday. A Monday that I will never forget. He told me, after I walked in the door at 8:30pm, frazzled from a day of hustling, "This can't continue. At the end of each day, you walk in the door having left your all at your office and there is no 'good' left for any of us. We love you and we need you more than that job needs you". Now, I may have paraphrased just a bit, but I heard him. I believed him. I knew he was right. The very next day, I walked into that corporate office building, scanned my badge on the elevator to get to my floor, walked to my beautiful office with the great view, set my things down and asked my boss if he could talk. Two weeks. I gave them my two weeks. Lots of tears flowed because I truly cared about my team and my co-workers, but I knew what I was doing was the right thing. The Hustle had almost cost me everything.
Let's fast forward just a bit. I am still a contributing member of the hard-working technology community. My husband and I own a business that helps other businesses every single day. But there is a difference. Not once, in the last 21 months have I ever been awakened with the thought of "Today I must grind. Today I must stress myself to the edge. Today I must prove myself over and over again because past success means nothing. Today I must HUSTLE." Nope. Not once. Am I successful? You bet. Not just professionally, but also as a Wife, as a Mom, as a Friend. I am enjoying a balanced soul that had eluded me for five decades. I've lost 50 pounds. I do yoga and workout 3-4 days a week. I am aware of the person that I am in all aspects. I am happy. I AM NOT A HUSTLER. Have you read the definition of Hustle? It's not exactly postive:
force (someone) to move hurriedly or unceremoniously in a specified direction."they hustled him into the back of a horse-drawn wagon"
NORTH American informal
obtain by forceful action or persuasion."the brothers headed to New York to try and hustle a record deal"
busy movement and activity."the hustle and bustle of the big cities"
NORTH AMERICAN informal
a fraud or swindle.
A FRAUD OR A SWINDLE. Let that sink in for a moment, friends.
Today I saw a post in a Facebook group to which I belong. Someone was asking if others in the group worked on Saturdays. The responses made me cringe. Now, let me say, I do occasionally work on a Saturday, on a holiday, or during hours that would be considered outside of traditional business hours. I am not judging work ethic here. I am, however, appalled that this post became a braggadocious contest of who was "Hustling" the hardest. The comment that made me cringe the most? It was the overused cliche "you can rest when you are dead". Ouch. Had that poster heard that phrase at some point, thought it was cool, and adopted it as their professional mantra? Dangerous. Yes, I am sure I will rest when I am dead, but seriously, I want to rest while I am alive. I want to enjoy a sunset with my friends while sitting at the edge of a lake, I want to be there for my kids when they need a shoulder to cry on. I want to laugh with my husband. Not after I am done hustling. I want to do those things now.
I may be in the minority, but if our paths do happen to cross, please don't tell me how hard you are hustling. I will not be impressed. Tell me about the great game last week where your kid pitched a no-hitter. Share with me the adventure you experienced when you discovered an amazing bike path with your spouse. Don't show me your frequent flyer miles, show me how you have grown as a human and are enjoying your life now, while you are alive.
I will leave you with words that, I am sure, you have already heard. I was profoundly saddened when, earlier this week, Barbara Bush passed. Her words from a commencement speech at Wellesley College in 1990, albeit simple words, state the obvious:
“At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal,” she said. “You will regret time not spent with a husband, a child, a friend or a parent.”
Be well, my friends. Be balanced. Eliminate the Hustle.