Hustle & Flow
The polarity off hustle and flow in life creates this perfect tension, like the meniscus of water in a glass. Combined, hustle and flow yield a balance—a sweetness—that makes life feel pretty blissful.
The problem is that most people are all hustle and no flow or all flow and no hustle (rarer, but I know a few—Hawaii seems to breed them).
Overall there’s a gross misconception on what it means to flow. Go with the flow likely elicits a picture in your head of a dopey drugged surfer in rag tag clothing with no direction and little promise—Spicoli anyone?
And the idea of flow, for a lot of people, provokes fear.
My niece and nephew, 15 and 17, have been visiting for a couple weeks. They’re a couple of bright minds; the conversations we’ve had are far beyond what I’d expect of kids their age, but one conversation in particular had me shaking my head in concern, oh NO!
We were talking about college and grades and competition and ‘making something of your life’—do not even get me started on the pressure put on these kids to excel on one specific path; it’s no wonder the majority of them are stoned and stressed.
Anyway, I digress, we were talking about working hard towards a goal (hustle) and that the most essential piece of any effort is trusting that whatever comes of it is for your highest and best, even if it’s not what you thought you wanted (flow).
When I said that, their jaws dropped, their eyes bugged and they both heatedly objected to the idea of flow.
If I just ‘go with the flow’ (said sardonically with floppy hands and a disregard towards any validity of the concept whatsoever) then I won’t DO ANYTHING. I’ll just be a bum. That’s my nephew speaking, with my niece emphatically nodding her head.
So I took another angle, You know about sports right, when you’re in the zone, in the flow. Doing exactly what you’ve trained yourself to do, but ultimately you have no real control over the outcome?
Yeah, but that’s sports. That doesn’t apply to life.
Oh holy hell, my entire insides groaned, Of COURSE it has everything to do with life. That IS the way to move through life.
I don’t know if I got through to them about the essential nature of flow; I’m pretty sure they’re still fixated on specific outcomes and have yet to learn that the twists and turns of life are what make it interesting, and that looking back and marveling at the perfect orchestration of events is fascinating, but they’re too young to have enough experience to see such things.
Yet even those with enough experience to witness the gifts of circumstances and the benefits of flowing with them, oppose it.
We live in a culture where hustle is rewarded and flow is mocked. But they’re equally important.
They’re the ingredients of a truly magical existence.
Yes, it’s fun to exert ourselves, to use our minds and hearts and guts. But you know when it’s not fun anymore?
When we get so tied to the outcome of the thing we’re doing that stress sets up shop in our bodies and minds.
Having an expectation for specific outcomes sucks the joy out of any endeavor faster than an earring through a shop-vac.
For me, I know I’m all hustle and no flow when I’m so attached to the end result that the creation of the thing either doesn’t happen, or feels like torture. I know I’m out of flow when my mind spins, and my feet are 12 inches off the ground (and not in an epic elevated way).
To restore my sanity, I purposefully do things that feel good and have little attachment to their outcome—like surfing, or yoga or making bread. Things where I take the mindset of, if it works awesome, if it doesn’t that’s okay, I can try again and I love the process so it’s all worthwhile.
Then I can go on to other, seemingly bigger, things—like client work, sales pages, and book writing.
So, by all means, do things, make things, create things, YES. Be beautifully effortful, and…resist the temptation to force it.
Also please, let’s stop teaching the children that flow is lazy, and hustle is everything. They were born in the flow, we wrench them out of with with expectations, and then we spend the rest of our lives trying to dive back in.
I believe there’s a way to add hustle, without exterminating flow; they are, after all, designed to work synergistically.
Love and hustle and flow,
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