hustler: n. someone skilled at turning a profit no matter what the enterprise.
[The following post is a revised version of my answer to a question re: Career Advice: "How do I become a Hustler?" on Quora]
There is a fundamental disconnect between the way most people see a hustler and what a hustler sees when she or he looks in the mirror. On a bad day, a hustler sees themselves as someone who needs to improve drastically. On a good day, a hustler sees themselves as someone who could have done something different to improve their hustle. The consistency is the fact that a hustler always strives to be better.
The Art of a Hustler is not simple. In fact, it’s quite complex and the combination of a variety of different attributes are what truly make a hustler in the modern sense of the word an outstanding professional and the key to many organizations success and growth.
The first piece to recognize is that there is key difference between wanting to be a hustler and becoming a hustler. This is an issue sweeping North America as young professionals are sitting back watching others live life to the fullest without making the steps to achieve a lifestyle that they truly want. Many of these individuals have amazing and inspirational aspirations but that’s all they have. They don’t have the results or the resume to support the fact that they are actually out there chasing these ambitious goals.
As a result of having unfulfilled goals – These people find themselves in a depressing and an often anxious state. From here, they begin to make excuses on why they are unable to achieve the goals and dreams that they truly want. A true hustler however, doesn’t make excuses. They show up. And by showing up I mean they make the effort and put in the hours to get closer to achieving the life of their dreams. As Abraham Lincoln said,
Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.
The combination of aspirations and ambition is truly the fuel that drives a Hustler. A hustler has a vision (although often blurry) of what they want their legacy to look like when they leave this world. In this scene from the movie, Pursuit of Happiness we find a father providing his son with hustler-esque advice regarding ambition and aspirations:
Hustlers also strive to achieve excellence in negotiation. I won’t highlight this point in detail here but click here for more information on how to negotiate like a pro.
The opposite of a hustler is someone who doesn’t give their 100%. Unconsciously these people don’t put in 100% because if they fail their talent can be questioned. However, by putting in 80% and failing they can look at those around them and say: “If I would have worked harder, I would have succeeded.” This is not the mentality of a hustler.
A hustler takes personal responsibility for failure more often than they will take responsibility for success. A hustler puts in the blood, sweat and tears with one intent – success. They don’t see failure as an option and will do all they can to achieve their goals. This determination is the driving factor behind their obsession with working hard. A hustler strives to perfect their craft daily and doesn’t flinch when someone tells them their idea is crazy.
An example of the hustler mentality when it comes to hard work can be seen in NFL Linebacker Ray Lewis:
Be like a duck. Remain calm on the surface and paddle like hell underneath - Michael Caine
A Hustler is not a mule. (See: What is a “mule” in a start-up company?) A hustler believes and recognizes that they have a core advantage over any one else. This advantage is not in their ability to work hard but instead in their ability work smarter. For years, there have been books published and seminars given promoting different methods to persuade and influence people. A common suggestion found in these recommendations includes the idea of “Make 500 sales calls and sell 5 of product X”. Meaning, if you’re willing to work harder than everyone else you’ll have a slight advantage. And by slight, they mean one additional sale. What these guys are missing is something called Smartwork..
Smartwork is the ability to understand the dynamics of a conversation. It’s all about frame control and understanding the cues that people give off unconsciously that provide you with an opportunity to control the frame. A Hustler is a lifelong student of Social Dynamics and Negotiation. They enjoy the company of people but enjoy analyzing their interactions so they can become a better communicator. See below for an excellent example of a hustler in action:
Love your Hustle
If you are honestly not obsessed with your hustle then you will not achieve hustler status. A hustler loves the product or service they are offering and believes that it is solving an issue for those around them. At the end of the day, to do something well you need to enjoy doing it. Hustlers have found what they enjoy doing and wake up every morning excited to get closer to fulfilling their aspirations and goals.
Today, I raise my glass to the hustlers. Those who are willing to stay up until 3AM fine tuning their craft. The ones who consume more coffee per day than the average employee does in a week. To those who are referred to as being ruthless. Here’s to you. Keep on hustling.