Over the last 10 years or so, workers have been told that they need to work harder, or hustle. In fact, Hustle Culture has been prized at many companies.
The idea is, the harder you work, the more you care. Working more hours makes you a better employee, or business owner.
Of course, it’s complete bullshit.
I’m an introvert. In general, introverts are highly organized, and thrive in a highly structured environment. We are very strategic thinkers, it’s why those of us that go into consulting, for instance, often flourish, because we can create strategies and bring order to chaos for our clients.
The problem that introverts have with the ‘just hustle’ mentality is that we need a reason WHY we are hustling. Telling us that we are supposed to work hard, and not giving us a reason WHY we are working hard, is completely deflating. Remember, introverts thrive off order, reason, logic.
When we are told to hustle, we will ask ‘Well why are we hustling?’ If we are told ‘Because that’s how we know you care’, then we check out. Hustling for the sake of hustling is completely meaningless to us.
You can tell an introvert that they need to work hard or hustle every day this week, 10 hours a day. Without a clear understanding of WHY the hustle is necessary and for what outcome, we will mentally check out.
On the other hand, if you tell an introvert that they need to work 10-12 hours every day this week, and lay out the exact project they will be working on, and a clear explanation of why all that time is necessary to complete the elements of that project, we are all in.
Tell me what I need to do, why I need to do it, and I can work all day. I have no problem with the hustle.
But tell me to hustle, without giving me a reason why the hustle is warranted, and I could care less.
Hustling for the sake of hustling is how you burn out yourself and your employees.
Define why the Hustle is necessary
If you want to motivate someone to work harder, help them understand why the hard work is necessary.
When I was in college, I worked night shift at a warehouse, driving a forklift. This warehouse had a day shift and night shift. The night shift’s job was to set up product for the day shift to use to complete orders. The night shift understood that if we did a better job of getting the product staged properly, that the day shift would be more productive, and we would actually have less work to do the following day.
We understood that sometimes we would need to do a bit extra work, we would need to hustle harder. But we also understood why the hustle was necessary, and what the positive result would be if we did hustle.
A couple years later, I was at the same job. By now we had moved to a different location and had new management. It was the week after Christmas, and night shift was told all week that we would only work from 4pm-8pm on New Year’s Eve. Normally, we worked a 6-8 hour shift. We were told we would come in, do some light clean up work, and go home early. Day shift was told they would be leaving early as well.
We arrived for our shift on New Year’s Eve, and it was a complete disaster. Day shift was still working, and wasn’t anywhere close to being done. We were told they would probably have to work our shift with us, but we would still leave at 8pm as planned.
A couple hours into our shift, we got an update; Day shift was probably going to be staying till around 10pm, and we would have to stay till 10pm as well. Upon hearing this news, some of the workers on day shift began to clock out and go home. Which meant we were further behind on work. So the night shift had to start finishing orders for the day shift.
At this point, no one was clear on why we were having to work so hard. Both shifts had been told they would get to leave early on New Year’s Eve, now it appeared that both shifts would actually have to work overtime. Obviously, something had changed to necessitate the extra work, but we weren’t told what had happened. Most of the day shift ended up working for 12 hours, and my night shift actually worked till 6am on New Year’s Day…a 14-hour shift, when we were told all week we would be working 4 hours. What made matters worse, was all during the day and night, we were told that we could leave in a few more hours. Then when a few more hours arrived, we were told it would be a few more hours. Workers were told to keep working hard, but never given a reason for the hard work. And all this was being required on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
We were told to hustle, but never given a reason why the hustle was necessary. And the amount of hustle required kept changing, to reach a goal that no one understood. Such a working environment is toxic, it leads to less productive employees, and higher job turnover.
Being consistent is far more important than hustling
One of the biggest keys to success in digital and content creation is consistency. It’s honestly something I struggle with mightily. I talked before about how introverts need structure and order. Do this, and this happens. Introverts need to know that if they put in this work, that THIS will be the result.
The problem is, it’s difficult to apply this cause and effect structure to content creation. I can’t tell you how many posts I will need to write to see my traffic increase 50% from where it is right now. Maybe it will take a thousand posts, maybe it will take only one. All I know for sure is that by consistently creating content here, I am INCREASINGLY my chances of seeing my traffic increase.
That’s not very precise. But unfortunately, that’s about the best we can go on. For instance, I started creating regular, consistent content on this blog starting September of last year. Prior to then, my writing schedule was pretty unorganized, I would typically write whenever I had a topic I wanted to talk about and the time to write. But starting September 1st, or 8 months ago, I decided to commit to writing every week.
Since that time, my traffic has increased by about 50%. If I can keep writing consistently, the odds are I can increase traffic by another 50% in the same amount of time, if not sooner.
But there is no guarantee that this will work. And for workers that thrive of a cause and effect method of working; I do this and this happens, that can be very frustrating.
Learn when to hustle
So this is what I’ve learned; Work consistently until you get consistent results. When you reach that point, THEN you can begin to hustle. Once you know what the result is from your work, then hustling to complete that work will give you the result faster. But until you know what work is necessary to create the result you want, hustling only burns you out. Hustle only works when you hustle to complete meaningful work. If your work has no meaning or known purpose, then hustling does nothing but burn you out.
It sounds cliche, but if you want your employees to work harder, give them something to work harder for. Help them understand why the hustle is necessary, and what they will achieve as a result. If you are working for yourself, apply the same principles. Use ‘the hustle’ as a tool to become more productive, not as a tool to virtue signal to others how you are ‘getting shit done’.
Reality check, most of us are too busy on our own work to notice your ‘hustle’. So stop trying to impress others, just focus on the work that needs to be done, and only hustle if the work calls for it.