The Great Recession morphed our language, but I still don’t know when it became cool to call yourself a hustler and to encourage a life of hustle.
In my life, hustlers are always struggling. They are broke. There is no long-term vision for their lives. Things move quickly for them because there’s no time to pause and reflect. They move from one job to the next, without a pot to piss in, and wait for the hand of God to intervene. God doesn’t look like God, however. God comes in the form of a scratch-off lottery ticket, a $20 bill on the sidewalk, or a cash contribution from a family member who just can’t stomach the bullshit for another minute.
I’m not the Oxford Dictionary, though, and hustle doesn’t always mean hustle in the way I’ve just described it. People who move swiftly use the word hustle to describe the way they’ve found a bridge between “passion projects” and income.
If you can meet your basic obligations in life, you can hustle and call yourself a hustler. What do I care?
But hustlers very rarely meet their obligations. It’s a woman who has “something in the pipeline” that will fund all of her dreams if you’ll only loan her $2000 so she can make rent and pay her overdue utility bills. It’s a guy who is following his dreams but can’t seem to understand that he’s stealing from your long-term dreams when you give him money.
I love agile and creative thinkers who attack the world’s problems with ferocity and passion. I love artists who cannot stomach the idea of doing anything but art. But to hustle is to fail. I think the hustle behavior we see from Gary Vaynerchuk and his ilk deserves a better name.