Many of you might not actively know it but subscribe to what is called the hustle culture. Hustle culture is the notion of a societal standard that emphasises you must work super hard to make money. This means you must clock in as many hours as possible to make more money. No wonder you see a widespread emphasis on staying up late or waking up early, even not sleeping at all. Why? To grind or hustle to make money. It is even inferred in the name of our capital, Harare – the city that never sleeps. Whilst putting in the work is good and all, there are limits. The hustle culture is toxic and I am going to show you why.

First Off, Hustling Should Not Be The Standard

Before I get into the hustle culture, let us look into the hustling aspect. I once did an article where I differentiated some commonly used terms. The 3 terms I looked at were Business Person, Entrepreneur, and Hustler. In essence, I was showing you that a business, a startup, and a hustle are not necessarily the same thing. Though nuanced at times, there are definitive differences between those terms. I gave 3 definitions for the term hustle or hustling:

To obtain illicitly or by forceful action

To swindle by cheating or persuading someone to buy something worthless or compromised

To sell something by energetic and especially underhanded activity

I know you love using the term and probably even call yourself a hustler or your venture, hustles. It is a term I do not like especially due to its connotations. Hustling tends to entail an absence of structure, absence of formalization and shady activities. This establishes for you the fact that hustling in its nature is not a good foundation.

Back to the hustle culture, why is it toxic?

Weighs Heavily On Your Health

What the hustle culture dictates is that most of your daily hours must be spent working or grinding. That is why it becomes a norm for some people to work more than 12 hours every day. I know of some people who wake up around 0400hrs and go to bed around 0200hrs the following day. This will lead to poor resting habits and also poor sleep. This also leads to poor eating and drinking habits. Some people are even pushed to excessively use stimulants or any drugs to stay active. All of this and more compounds over time and results in compromised mental and physical health. Did you know that most health issues in the world can be traced back to stress? The hustle culture often leads to or is characterized by stress due to overworking, ‘multitasking’, and pushing unrealistic targets.

Your Productivity And Creativity Are Compromised

It might seem like putting in as many hours as possible is equal to productivity but it is not always the case. Hustling emphasises most on working hard not working efficiently or effectively per se. I once did an article where I discussed the subject of shorter work weeks. In various countries, there have been experiments to test the efficacy of shorter work weeks. The overall realization was or has been that productivity is enhanced by shorter work weeks.

I have also touched on what is termed deep work, an approach I use. For me, this involves dedicating my first 5 hours of the day to intense and uninterrupted work. On the days I successfully manage to do this, I get more done and I have more time to do other things.

All these examples demonstrate that when it comes to working on anything, less is more. The emphasis should be on the quality of hours spent rather than just the number (quantity) of hours. Hustling by its nature focuses most on quantity over quality. In that bid to clock in as many hours as possible, you lose your ability to be creative. The irony is that creativity makes it possible to produce more and better results with less effort and in less time. When hustling you overlook the need to be creative because your goal is more hours.

You Starve What Truly Matters

Earlier today, I was chatting with a close friend of mine who is native to Botswana. She was apologizing for the fact that lately, she has not been communicating regularly as usual. This is coming from her being engaged in a 1-year horticulture training programme that she is undergoing. It entails her managing her greenhouse of tomatoes and green pepper. After she completes it she will be certified so it is great and all.

There are still 6 more months to go. However, it is making her starve what truly matters. I am referring to things like social life, and health, amongst other things. When she laid out her typical day my response was, ‘Logically, I can considerably acknowledge the necessity of all this. Yet critically and objectively, it gets concerning when you consider all the imbalances that are now rampant, in every way. The work-life balance does not exist anymore but it is what it is. The harsh reality though is things compound over time and at the end of this project, when you look back you need to be able to not have regrets about these current imbalances’.

I am sharing this personal example to illustrate how the hustle culture causes you to starve what truly matters. By the time you attain what you are aiming for; there might be irreparable damage to your health and your social life. Even the money you would have been working for all along might not be worth the voids you will encounter later.

What I want you to take away from this discussion is that you should be careful of the toxic hustle culture. I have noticed that most public figures that emphasise the hustle culture either do not live that life or have people working for them. This means their vital life experience does not involve what they preach. The other day someone joked that someone can be awakened around 0200hrs because of a full bladder. Then before they get back to bed they can tweet or post that they are awake grinding. The point is you might be giving yourself excessive pressure to live up to exaggerated ideals, be wise!