The desire to bring your audacious dreams to life, obsess over a target and prove the haters and naysayers wrong by hustling comes from a good place, right?
Actually, not quite.
There is an unspoken, yet often felt dark side of hustle.
In a world that applauds achievement regardless of its physical, mental and emotional toll—few will admit this.
Since I’ve been entrenched as a hustler, I’ve had behind-the-scenes conversations with some of the world’s best.
Nothing like a late-night tequila on the rocks for honesty to ooze out.
And the reality is the incessant desire to achieve can come from a dark place, including:
- The need to prove people wrong
- The desire to show people you’re worthy
- The attempt to heal past trauma or pain
We’ve all heard this story.
This is the podcast about the guy who got bullied in 4th grade who built an empire to prove Big Rick wrong.
This is the rags-to-riches story about the gal who graduated Summa Cum Laude while working three jobs to soothe the trauma of being unloved.
This is the entrepreneur who works 16-hour days to show Sarah from high school she made a costly mistake.
(I could go on —I’m staring at books from Andre Agassi, Tiger Woods, Demi Moore, Moby and countless others.)
And here’s how the dark side of hustle manifests itself:
Psychological wounds become the high-octane fuel for achievement, workaholism and accumulating accolades to fill a void of not being enough.
Left unchecked and never equalized through being —this need becomes a maniacal quest of the ego:
It leads to frayed relationships, making up random drama to prove the haters wrong —and erratic decision making.
When one operates out of the dark side of hustle:
- There is never enough.
There is never enough cash, followers, bank deposits —or any other external metric of success. You arrive at your goal and now you’re comparing yourself to someone who has more.
- Lack is a daily experience.
The dark side of hustle operates on constant lack: crushing, striving and chasing more. Because success is defined by external rewards, naturally, you’re always in lack. Move the goalpost back!
- There is constant neediness.
We’ve all met the sales person who needed us to buy to pay their rent. And while we really wanted the item —it felt uncomfortable. The dark side of hustle operates under the desperation of someone who texts 7 times…after one date.
- They can’t or don’t shut it off.
The achievement based ego doesn’t know who it is —if it’s not chasing goals 24/7. Naturally this means you won’t shut it off. Because then, you’ll have to ask: who are you when you’re not achieving?
Besides these consequences —there is a palpable sense that if it doesn’t happen tomorrow, it may come crumbling down.
Let’s be clear here: this fuel works.
It works inexplicably well to out-work, out-grind, out-achieve and keep going while your competition is resting.
As author and podcast host Tim Ferris once said about his drive for success:
“I hated myself and chased success purely out of self-loathing for seven years.”
I don’t know about you —but I can’t define success as making it at the expense of my mind, body and spirit.
So, how do you deal with the dark side of hustle?
I’ll explore that in further posts, but simply recognize we all have a degree of this energy when we operate out of achievement.
The question is: how do we deal with this in a way where we don’t lose ourselves in the process?
More to come —but let me know:
Have you ever experienced the dark side of hustle?