Lesson 10: Hustle 24/7. Just Kidding. Don't.

 

Everywhere I look, I see #hustleporn. “I’d rather hustle 24/7 than slave 9 to 5!” “I’ve got a dream worth more than my sleep!” “Hustle 24/7, bro!”

What if I told you this:

  1. You don’t have to hustle 24/7. You can actually go to sleep. (and should)

  2. You will suffer if you try to ignore #1.

  3. Hustling 24/7 will most likely keep your business from growing.

Now what?

Here’s my story:

I “hustled” most of my early career. Using that term, I mean I ran like hell towards my goals, and worked harder than everyone else around me to succeed. That was my “brand” at work. I moved cross-country five times in five years. NYC to SF to BOS to LA to NYC to LA (again).

It paid off, sorta.

I became an executive at a successful startup by the time I was 33. By 35 I was dying inside. I worked so hard and so long that my brain was mush, and my body was changing for the worse. Quickly.

Still, the “I’d rather hustle 24/7 than slave 9 to 5!” mentality that had defined my career was something I simply couldn’t shake. I pressed on.

At 36, I had my first full-blown nervous breakdown, and my wife had to call 911. I couldn’t feel my hands, and I couldn’t stop screaming. She was terrified. I had no idea what was happening. It was the scariest moment of my life to this day. Thinking about it makes me emotional. I thought I was dying.

Believe it or not, that didn’t stop me. Remember, “I’ve got a dream worth more than my sleep!”.

My physical and mental health declined over the next year. I was shitty to people at work. I couldn’t sleep. I gained 30 pounds. I was doubled over with abdominal pain one day when I decided enough was enough. I needed to be able to do this without the workaholism and the hustle lifestyle.

So I stopped. Cold turkey. No more 7 days a week. No more caffeine-fueled-early-mornings-because-I-didn’t-sleep-last-night-days.

What happened? Well…things changed. For the better. My business thrived. Our revenue numbers went up. Morale improved on my team.

I got f*cking focused. Every week, I know exactly what I’m working on and for how long. I know how to put in a few hours on the MOST strategic project, wrap it up inside of 9 to 5, and rest my mind and body from 5 to 9.

I delegate. I hired great people around me, so I leverage them. I stopped micro-managing. I learned to trust. They haven’t let me down. Business is booming.

The most successful years of my professional life have now been defined more by a willingness to slow down and focus, than by “Hustling 24/7, bro!”.

I often wonder if I would have become an executive at a young age, or found the success I did, if I hadn’t pushed myself to the limits early in my career. I believe I would have. I wish I had been more strategic and more focused earlier in my career. I wouldn’t have put my family in some scary situations. I wouldn’t have pissed off some of my co-workers. But, I can’t change the past…only the future.

You can’t hustle forever. Doing focused, great work? Taking care of your mind and body? That can last a lifetime. Best of luck.