‘Hustle Harder’ is bad advice. Here’s why:

Hustling, Music Business, Music Industry, Music Biz, 2019, Advice, Professional Advice

One of the internet’s most popular phrases, ‘Hustler Harder’ is a recipe for disaster, depression, and feelings of inadequacy.

Read a motivational blog, any motivational blog, and you’re bound to see the word ‘hustle’ used as if it were going out of style. People will tell you to hustle every day, hustle nonstop, always be on your hustle, etc. But what does this really mean, and what – if anything – will hustling every day really do for your career?

I take issue with the idea we should always be hustling for a few reasons. For starters, not everyone knows how to hustle. People often confuse hustling with merely getting your work done, or doing whatever you think needs to be done to get ahead. That may be true in some cases, but the hustling as an idea is a bit broader in its definition. Hustling refers to being smarter than those you’re competing against to get ahead. This goes beyond working hard for long hours. In fact, you don’t even need to do those things to truly hustle. Lots of people get ahead by doing less than their peers, and that is its own form of hustling.

Secondly, hustling every day never guarantees success. A person with a terrible voice can practice singing every day for the rest of their lives and never be half as good as the least successful major label artist. Likewise, I can hit the gym every day and never gain enough muscle to be a linebacker in the NFL. Just because I want something and work diligently towards achieving it does not mean that goal will one day be realized. It makes it more likely, sure, but that’s about it.

Third, and most importantly, some hustles are actually detrimental to your personal development. Some people spend years of their lives working toward something that is never going to happen and in the process make great sacrifices that they later regret. To understand whether or not this is happening an individual needs to disengage from their hustle and take stock of their life. They need to possess the power to step back, examine what does and does not work, then adjust their path in life accordingly. When someone hustles hard every single day, 24/7, the opportunity for reflection is lost. By the time people do think to look up, time and life have often passed them by.

Very few people hustle hard every day and achieve their goals. The vast majority hustle hard for longer than they should and realize they missed their chance to pursue their passion. Worse yet, many often miss out on experiences with family and friends because of their dedication to the idea of hustling hard.

Those who hustle hard will inevitably burn out. Don’t hustle harder, Hustle smarter, and by that I mean constantly evaluate your situation and what you need to do to create the life you aspire to experience. Examine the world around you and ask yourself if you are really leading to the life you want. If the answer is no, adjust your trajectory and keeping moving. Then do so again and again periodically for the rest of your life.

A great hustle is just one part of the recipe for success. Other elements include talent, networking skills, and general likability. Do you really think the hardest working person always gets the job over the person people like the most, or that those who are naturally gifted in a particular field do not rise through the ranks faster than those who have to work on their talent? The idea that hustling hard will eventually give you what you want only applies in a world where things are fair and trust me – this life is not fair.

Don’t hustle to hustle, don’t work hard just to say you drove yourself to the point of mental exhaustion, and don’t place work over people. You may never get where you hope to go, but you can still enjoy the journey.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.