This past weekend, I got to live a day in the life of a personal trainer at X-Sport Fitness. I didn’t plan to write about it either.
But it turns out that the experience highlighted some useful lessons that can be applied to everyday learning and development. It also shed some light on some other insights about perception and progress.
For 3 years, I worked with a phenomenal group of people in various departments at my former company.
One group I particularly learned a lot from was the Project Management team. We frequently came to them with quick-turnaround projects, asking for help in putting together plans to get from point H to point Y. (that’s “Hell No” to “Yes” if you’re curious).
The other evening, I was standing over the sink, zoning out with the zen of hand-washing dishes. Mid-zen, my wife walks in the door and kisses me on the cheek. My subconscious asks the customary question: “how was your day”?
She replied, “Oh, nothing worth writing home about” and heads into the bedroom.
I raised an eyebrow at the oft-used expression and shrugged it off.
As I often do with words, I spent the next 10 minutes over-analyzing the idiom until conceding to let the internet tell me what it meant.
I’m not naturally a hustler. I’m easy going can usually be found on cruise control. It’s my natural state when I’m not passionate about something. That’s true of many people.
I have moments where I can flip the switch and get motivated, too. It’s usually when I have my eyes on some short term goal or when other people are relying on me.
However, I’ve noticed something recently. Most of the people I admire, people who are rock stars in their field, and those who leave the scent of inspiration on you after engaging with them — they’re all hustlers.
This isn’t really news. We all know that hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.
But hustling is hard.
It takes remarkable amounts of willpower to do it over long periods of time. Charles Duhigg tells us in The Power of Habit that “willpower isn’t just a skill. It’s a muscle, like the muscles in your arms or legs, and it gets tired as it works harder…”. You’ve got to understand how to strengthen it to keep it moving when faced with attrition.
A few days ago, a friend told me that I’m a person she thinks of when she needs some motivation. That was humbling news for two reasons. For one, that kind of feedback is emblematic of the legacy I want to leave when I peace out of this place. And two, she’s one of the people I think of when I’m running low on motivational mojo. She’s a hustler if I ever saw one.
That got me to thinking. What habits do hustlers practice? What traits do they embody? What do the symptoms of hustling look like?
Ever since I decided that I was going to be a writer, writing has gotten really hard. I think I’m still pretty okay with spelling and punctuation, but the act of stringing thoughts together to form meaningful sentences is agonizing. And paragraphs? Don’t get me started on paragraphs!
I remember when I was drafting my “It’s not good-bye, but I’ll see you later” e-mail to my fellow co-workers, I couldn’t decide what I wanted to say or how I wanted to say it. That was especially weird because I had drafted it in my mind long before that day. Leaving wasn’t necessarily a matter of “if” as much as “when”.
I felt an unreasonable pressure to write something compelling or inspiring since I just told people that writing was going to be the next step. I’ve written thousands of e-mails before and this wasn’t really any different. It was just me saying “thank-you” to the great people I’d worked with for the last three years.
But there I was, staring at a blinking cursor trying to sum up my experiences and gratitude in a single e-mail.