A lot of people throw around the word “hustle,” and frankly, I don’t think they have any idea what the hell they’re talking about.

For me, the essence is this: Hustle should be your number one priority right now. Period.

Because all it really means is working hard. Caring. Pushing yourself. It’s occupying every part of your day with great work, meaningful work. And don’t get me wrong; when you sleep, you sleep. But when you’re awake, you’re all in.

But maybe you don’t have that instilled in you. Maybe you look at people who are always on and think “How do they do that?” In that case, what do you do? Can hustle be taught?

Yes, and no. I do think that “hustle” is something that you’re born with. But it’s a trait that can be instilled and developed. And believe me, you want this. In the end, hustle also comes down to your surroundings. I’ll explain.

Everyone has individual work ethics that affect their job performance, and ultimately, their success in life. This isn’t to say that unsuccessful people don’t have strong work ethics; any number of things in life can happen to make someone’s life turn out the way it does. But while work ethic is a baseline starting point we all have, hustle is fundamentally affected by the person you’re working for. If you work for yourself, it’s really easy to give yourself that high grade hustle. However, if you work for someone else, I think your attitude and effort are based solely on how inspired you are by your leader. I instill a strong trust and protection (as well as very high standards) for those who work for me, so they’re able to go all-in and deliver. They work as hard as they do because of the culture, the context, that comes from our workplace.

At the very least, everyone is motivated by their own selfishness and needs, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But there’s another side of it, a side in which a leader establishes a merit-based workplace. In that case, an employee is going to do whatever they can to not let that leader down, but they’ll also work hard enough to take advantage of the opportunity to grow and rise through the ranks.

This is why I’ve always advocated surrounding yourself with the right kind of people. Go where you are motivated to take risks. Be with people that allow you to make your best work. Look at your level of hustle and evaluate it: Am I working as hard as I could? Am I doing great work? If you work for yourself and the answer is no, think long and hard about the business you have started, or the consulting work you’re doing. Is it right?

This comes down to the classic nature vs. nurture. A large part of our drive comes from our DNA, but it’s the circumstances of our years that shape the level at which we perform. Make sure your circumstances are allowing you to win.



This article was originally published on Medium. It has been republished with permission.


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