Why avoiding the hustle and grind will get you nearer to your goals.
From the outset, I want to be clear that I both value the benefits of hard work and admire those who can deliver it. But I would like you to be clear that there is a difference between hard work and busy work. The distinction is often not easy to make, nor the shift always straightforward to bring about. And yet, despite these challenges, holding onto these important differences is vital to understand for your ongoing wellbeing, fulfilment and success.
Staying with the endeavour to which you are applying your efforts, whilst you avoid pitfalls, is more challenging today than it has been in the past. Historically, you would have received positive, if lightweight, advice from well-meaning supporters such as, “do your best” and “hard works pays off.” Today the tenor of advice around how you can ‘make it’ – often in the space of a week or other ridiculously short time frames – has echoes of the dark days of the industrial revolution. I am referring to the recent growth of the ‘hustle and grind’ advice offered up to you as a helpful mindset to adopt in relation to work. Social media platforms are chock-full of ‘influencers’ encouraging you to ‘hustle and grind’ your way through your working day, week, month, indeed, whole lifetime.
Avoiding the hustle and grind.
The problem is the hustle and grind culture has several negative connotations, with the most pervasive being that hard work can leave you feeling ‘ground down.’ We can begin to make an association between working hard and feelings of being ‘done to’ or ‘put upon’ by pressures that don’t actually exist. Those words become a bit like a phantom cotton mill foreman, standing watch over your every move. The Christian work-ethic enforcer who would interpret your idleness as sinful.
The irony is that by making a connection between hard work and negative emotions you are much more likely to get exactly the opposite outcomes to those you are working so hard to achieve. More work and less joy is a recipe for burn-out and waning motivation and thus, too often results in a failure to achieve.
Next, this approach can and does promote a ‘just ship it’ mentality i.e. that you want to cross-off whatever is on your ‘to-do list’ as fast as you can. Too narrow an output-focus omits a critical step in the planning process, where we can fail to consider whether Output A is the right thing for you to tackle at this point. Would completing Output B, C or Q be even more helpful? The situation worsens still further when completing tasks on auto-pilot results in insufficient attention being given to the critical aspect of quality. And that is a real and significant issue. Because completed work that isn’t to the right standard isn’t really completed at all. A lack of quality in a shoddy first attempt, often results in ‘re-work’ being required and so, the hustle and grind mentality can become cyclical, creating a negative spiral and one from which it can be challenging to escape.
Avoiding the hustle and grind?
Finally, approaching work in this way increases the likelihood that you miss a critical area of work-related performance, namely you fail to build in time for reflection. If you are always hustling with your single-minded focus on output, what mechanisms do you have in place to ensure improvement? If you are working flat out there is no time for reflection. Learning fails to happen. Improvement stalls and then grinds to a halt.
So, I’d recommend that you consider replacing the hustle and grind brands that you may have adopted (like me, for much of 2019) almost through a process of osmosis, with something that resonates more for you and how you tend to produce your very best work. Don’t stop working hard. Do your best. And yes, sometimes that will mean getting up early and putting in longer hours, just avoid making that your default approach to doing great work.
Own the language around how you are going to approach the important areas of your life, rather than tacking the ideas of others into your own worldview, without critical assessment of their value. You might, for example, replace hustle and grind with something like, “hard work and excellence.’
Avoiding the hustle and grin, less trendy? Certainly.
Fewer Likes and Retweets? Possibly.
More quality assured over the long-haul? Quite probably.