Wednesday, December 21, 2011
“Things may come to those who wait… but only the things left by those who hustle.” - Abraham Lincoln
Today I continue on with my series of posts that take mid-life reflection (read crisis) as the theme....
I'm a hustler.
Saying I'm a hustler is nearly as bad as mentioning that I played hooker in college, isnt it?
Playing hooker allowed me to play aggressively in a big girl sport even though I'm a physically small person. The flaw in it: Once my neck almost snapped in the scrum while playing the (more adept, aggressive and large) Portland Women's Rugby Club and also, the sport fostered my already supremely developed collegiate drinking habit.
I abandoned playing hooker following college, which is probably good in terms of saving both my neck and my liver.
But I've never abandoned being a hustler. When I was younger I didn't always understand the most expedient way to get what I wanted--especially in terms of school and sport. It came most naturally to me in terms of the social: I wanted a certain friend, I would get her. I wanted a certain guy, I would go for it. I put fear aside. Who could say no to my wit and charm, right? As a result I met with some painful rejection, specifically on the guy front. But I also ended up getting what I wanted a lot of the time.
As I got older I began to understand, however, that hustling didn't just mean going for it by putting fear aside and taking the plunge. That was a big part of it, but the other part was to take immediate action--and then to follow up that action with hard, consistent work. Suddenly not just the social world was my domain. I could also get straight A's. I could get the job I wanted. I could run a marathon. I just had to take action, right now, and then work harder than everyone else and it was mine.
What I didn't realize at the time was that by hustling--by taking immediate action and following that action with ferocious and unrelenting work--I was also limiting my options. I couldn't do it all. I couldn't become an animal behaviorist and also a a teacher. I couldn't become an English professor and also a specialist in organizational psychology. I couldn't be a master gardener with a degree in horticulture and also a top age group triathlete. I couldn't be a published writer, and a voracious reader, and own a thriving coaching business and be a dog trainer who also owned fifteen different types of dogs. And I couldn't do any of the above, at least really really well, if I wanted to be a good, loving, focused, attentive mom and wife.
Being extraordinary at any one thing requires a willingness to take action, a will of steel, and a singular focus. I figured out early that the hustler got first choice, and if she backed that action up with work she could usually keep that choice. What I didn't realize is that the hustler still didn't get all she wanted--because in going for what she wanted she automatically limited all the other options in her single minded pursuit.
I tend to have the most admiration for people of have achieved greatness in one realm. Actually, I think this is a national preoccupation. But these most successful people, more than anyone, have limited their options, haven't they? No one achieves greatness without that singular focus. No one is at the top of the game without having sloughed off the extra weight that hinders progress. These people have had to be ruthless in their taking action at the expense of reflecting on other choices.
To hustle. or not to hustle. To focus or diversify. What makes a person most happy? The satisfaction of achieving no matter what it takes, or the satisfaction of letting success go so you can enjoy more than just the pursuit of one, great thing?
Nothing like pondering these things when I could be taking action....