The World Belongs to Those Who Hustle

by Brett on February 8, 2010 · 163 comments

in A Man's Life, Personal Development

We get a lot of emails from men lamenting the fact that they feel stuck in neutral and asking for advice. Many of these men have great aspirations, but that’s all they have. Aspirations. Many don’t have any results to show for all their ambitious goals in life. Some are on year seven of a four year degree, and others are stuck in a job that’s going nowhere. Maybe you know a man like this. Heck, maybe you feel like this.

Unfulfilled goals, of course, can lead to frustration, depression, and just a general dampening of your man spirit, which only makes it harder to get unstuck. When we dig a little deeper into the lives of these “stuck” men, a few commonalities appear.

First, there are the excuses. “The economy sucks.” “I’m not naturally smart/athletic/gifted.” “I don’t have enough time.” You get the idea.

The second thing we often see is that they’ve just been doing the bare minimum to coast along in life. A lot of them think “showing up” constitutes real effort, and that the chips of their dreams will magically fall into place.

We usually respond to these gents to stop with the excuses and start busting some ass. Some of these men take the advice to heart and get going. The others often counter with another excuse and ask for another way that doesn’t involve so much work

These guys will never understand a very important truth: the world belongs to hustlers.

Now, I’m not talking about hustling in the pulling-a-scam-on-the-naive-newbie sense. (Although it never hurts to have a little Fast Eddie swagger). I’m talking about the work-your-ass-off-while-your-competition-plays-Rock Band kind of hustling. Hustling=doing whatever you have to do, for however long as you have to do it, until you reach your goal.

Teddy Roosevelt Hustled and So Should You

“Things may come to those who wait…but only the things left by those who hustle.” - Abraham Lincoln

Looking at the men that I admire from history, they all have one thing in common: they were hustlers. Theodore Roosevelt accomplished an insane amount of work because he lived the strenuous life, i.e. hustled. Thomas Edison patented thousands of inventions and perfected the light bulb because he spent all day hustling. Frederick Douglass was an orator, diplomat, newspaper editor and author because he hustled. And pretty much every self-made man has the same story.

The interesting thing is a lot of these great men who succeeded through hustling weren’t born with natural talent or abilities. In fact, they were usually dealt a crummy hand from the beginning of their life. T.R. had a sickly disposition that weakened him as a child and plagued him the rest of his life. He had to hustle more than others to gain and maintain his vim and vigor.  Edison was smart, but there were plenty of other men out there who were smarter. He just worked harder than the naturally smart guys and then hired them to work for him. And Frederick Douglass was born a slave, lived in a time of extreme racism, and yet still beat the odds because he hustled.

Here’s the deal. Most of us are average. Average intelligence, average athleticism, and average looking. And most of us have had some setbacks in our life that can serve as a disadvantage. In short, we’re pretty much on the same playing field as millions and millions of people.  And yet despite our average minds and builds most of us believe deep down that we are destined for something extraordinary, that we’re special. But most men really aren’t. But not because they’re average. Because they won’t hustle to get what they want.

A man’s reasons for not hustling run the gamut from laziness to fear of failure. I think a lot of time men think, “I want what that guy has but I just don’t have his x,y, or z.” But while we don’t have any control over the number of natural talents and gifts we were born with, we do have complete control over how much we can hustle. You can’t control where you were born, how crappy or nice your parents were, or how homely or handsome you are. But nobody determines how hard you hustle but you. Wherever you are in life, you can hustle to get where you want to be.

My Personal Experience with Hustling

I can personally vouch for hustle’s ability to make up for average and even below average innate talent. Two instances in my life stick out where hard-work and hustling paid off despite my weaknesses.

The first was back in high school. Like many American boys, I played football in high school. Genetics, unfortunately, did not bless me with natural athleticism. Starting off in 9th grade I was slow, fat, not very coordinated, and weak. Needless to say, I didn’t get a lot of playing time early in my career. I was so bad that two coaches on the team made a bet with each other on who would be able to  turn me into a football player by my senior year. I didn’t discover this vote of confidence until I graduated.

But what I lacked in ability, I made up for with hustle. I volunteered to be on the scout team at practice as much as possible. I stayed after practices to work on my technique. I ate a strict diet in order to lose the fat and put on muscle. I busted butt in the weight room in order to get stronger and faster. I did anything and everything I could do to get better. It took three years, but I finally got to start a game my junior year. By my senior year I started every game and even earned some honors at the end of the season. Granted, I wasn’t a blue chipper, but that’s okay.

I remember after the season was over, one of the coaches that made the bet on me pulled me aside in the hallway and told me about his friendly wager. He then put his hands on my shoulders and said, “McKay, there are plenty of other guys on the team that have way more natural athletic ability than you. You’re not a naturally athletic guy, but what you lacked in talent, you made up for with hustle and heart. You earned your success.”

Two lessons hit home to me from that conversation. First, if you’re a coach/mentor/teacher/boss, take the time to pay a sincere compliment to whoever is under you. That conversation I had with my coach was a super confidence booster for my young, insecure self. And even though the conversation happened 10 years ago, it still has an impact on me.

Second lesson. Hustle works! It turned my un-athletic self into a decent football player.

Now hustle can’t turn you into Michael Jordan if you just don’t have the natural talent. But it will take you farther than you and those around you thought was possible.

The second instance of hustle paying off was my career in law school. I’m not naturally smart. Take a look at my Iowa Test of Basic Skills and every other standardized test I’ve taken since elementary school, and they’ll show how average I am. This was a source of frustration for me growing up because it seemed like all my friends were geniuses. I would study my butt off for a test, and they would waltz in on test day without even cracking the textbook, and still get a better grade than me. Frustrating.

Anyway, when I decided to go to law school, I made it a goal to graduate in the top 10 of my class. Pretty lofty goal for a guy who’d always ran in the middle of the pack.

I knew there were going to be some smart people in my class. Definitely smarter than me. My only chance at reaching my goal was to out-hustle everybody else. While other members of the incoming class spent their last summer of freedom hanging out and having fun, I was busting my butt reading study-guides and supplements on all my first year classes. Because your grade in a law class usually depends on a 3 hour essay exam, I studied and practiced how to write law essays that earned A’s. I continued hustling throughout my first semester. I had a study schedule that I stuck to like clockwork. I was at the law library from morning until night. I carried my law outlines and a deck of flash cards with me everywhere I went so I could study while I was waiting in line for lunch or walking to class. I went up to the library on weekends. I hustled as much as I could.

It was tiring, but in the end it paid off. When first semester grades came out, I was the number one student in my class. I was shocked. I had never been number one at anything in my academic career. I didn’t maintain the number one ranking throughout law school. But that’s because my second year I started the Art of Manliness. It required an incredible amount of work, so I couldn’t study quite as much. But I was hustling even more than before. I hustled with my classes. I hustled with my part-time job as a student rep with Westlaw, a legal research company. And I hustled with the Art of Manliness. And I wrote a book as well. I spent each day at the library from 9 in the morning until 9 at night with no breaks working on law school stuff. Then I would come home and spend several hours working on the blog and book. And then I would do it again the next day.

When I graduated from law school, I had become one of the top Westlaw reps in the country, grown AoM to thousands of subscribers, and wrote a book. And I graduated summa cum laude in the top ten of my class. I was tired. Really, really tired. But I accomplished what I set out to do. Because I hustled.

Turn Off the TV and Start Hustling

Now, I hope this doesn’t come off as some jackass, self-congratulatory, “I’m awesome!” thing. That’s not my intent at all. The truth is, I’m not that awesome. Like I said, I’m pretty average. Like most people, I have a lot to work on personally in order to become the man I want to be. My hope is that other men out there who feel stuck in an unfulfilling personal situation can see that it’s possible to do extraordinary things despite your averageness and even below averageness as long as you’re willing to hustle. And hustle hard.

If you’re tired of your crappy job, hustle your way into a better one. The economy is in the crapper and unemployment is dismal. You’re going to be competing with a lot of people for limited jobs. With all things being equal, the job is going to go to the man who hustles. Maybe you’ll need to go to night school in order to beef up your resume. Yeah, it’s going to be hard, especially if you have family, but it’s been done before. It’s just going to take some hustling.

If you’re tired of working for “the man,” start your own business. Most people that hear this bit of advice balk, because they think they have to quit their current job with all its security so they can devote themselves completely to building up their own business. But you can do both. Spend the day working your day job, but then moonlight with your own business until you’re established enough to quit your corporate job. You’ll have to hustle to get to this point, though. You’ll have to forgo a lot of sleep and spend your evenings and weekends working. No more 30 Rock or Monday Night Football or playing Command and Conquer 2.

If you want to do something more out there like become a professional blogger, writer, musician, ect. than you’re really going to need to hustle. Ignore the “get rich quickly with minimum hours” gurus out there. Take a page from a guy like Gary Vaynerchuk from Wine He recommends blogging way into the night, until your eyeballs bleed. That’s really what it takes. There are no shortcuts in life no matter what you dream of doing.

Whatever your goal is, you can accomplish it if you hustle. I know you can. I’ve seen it in my own life and in the lives of men around me.

The World Needs Men Who Hustle

Things are pretty rough right now. We’re facing some big problems that are going to take a lot of work to solve. We need men to step up and be leaders in our communities and families. We need more entrepreneurs to start small businesses and employees who bust butt to help get our economy going again. We need men who hustle.

So many aspects of our lives have speeded up from fast-food to the internet. So much of the world is now only a few keystrokes away. We don’t need to break a sweat to see what’s happening in China. Having the world at your fingertips is wonderful-what a privilege to live in this time. But we must vigilantly guard against “expectation-creep.” Expectation-creep is our ever increasing expectation that everything in life will come to us quicker and easier than before. That fortune and fame is only a google search away. While a lot of things in this world have changed, the need for hustle has not. The requisite brow sweat may be more figurative these days, but time, focus, dedication, and determination will remain the eternal principles of success.

So, here’s a challenge I’d like to issue to all of us: Let’s hustle more. I know if we all start hustling we can make things happen- in our own life and in the world around us. It won’t happen right away, but it will happen.

{ 155 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Roger S. February 8, 2010 at 12:15 am


2 Justin February 8, 2010 at 12:30 am

Well said. I hope you have another Tulsa meetup. My commitments are several, but I want to go if you do it again.

This makes me think of hustle’s cousin. Focus. Hustle works much better if one scrapes away all the stuff we don’t really want to do. For instance, I used to audition for a lot of community theater. I have stopped that now. It won’t get me where I want to go. I still work with the Tulsa Opera and the local contemporary arts organization, Living Arts, but these are professional organizations that help me get where I want to go.

Anyway, great post, sir. Great post.

3 Will Canuck February 8, 2010 at 12:33 am


No ‘Hints, tips and tricks’ article here. No 20 easy things you can do to xyz.

Nope, the message of AOM time and time again is the essence of masculinity that we all are in danger of loosing: “nut up and get to work”.

You got dealt a bad deal? no one owes you. Nut up.
Starting from the back of the pack? Move faster or you wont catch up.

I gotta hand it to you guys. You are more than just reviewing cuff links and shaving cream. Hats Off.

4 Jonathan February 8, 2010 at 12:35 am

Excellent article.

“Wasted time is wasted destiny” is one of my favorite quotes. Seems fairly applicable here.

5 Jason February 8, 2010 at 12:39 am

It was nice to learn a little more about the man behind the art of manliness. It is very good to know that he practices exactly what he preaches! Well done, sir. Keep preaching the good word of true manliness.

6 Nuno Ferreira February 8, 2010 at 12:41 am

That was an enjoyable read, thanks

7 Amanda Halm February 8, 2010 at 12:48 am

I absolutely agree with this – everything I’ve accomplished had to do with hard work over natural ability.

8 Eldon B. February 8, 2010 at 12:48 am

I’m going to use this article as the kick in the butt I need to get on with my life.

9 Francis February 8, 2010 at 12:49 am

Your football story reminds me of my high school athletic experiences. In basketball I didn’t make the team junior year, I vowed to make it senior year. I would practice at least three hours everyday, practicing my jump shots, foul shots, doing sprints and getting in the best shape i could. Senior year I started, and won an award.
I take that same approach with school, and I’m just started this semester I plan on getting A’s in all my classes by studying and spending long hours in the library. I know that I have an edge over most if not all of my classmates by spending long hours studying and taking my work seriously and i know it will pay off.

10 Nick Minerva February 8, 2010 at 1:35 am

great read!! I love what Proverbs 14:23 says-In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury.(poverty, deficiency)

11 Daniel February 8, 2010 at 2:44 am

Abe said that? Wow.

The hustling stuff works. I’m into my soft launch phase for project #6 (providing web media solutions in Singapore). Done up 5 since Jan 2010, right after I got laid off again.

Speaking of TR. I happened to read up on a short story mentioning about how after he lost both his wife and mom on the same day (yeah, within hours), he spent his life in the woods, came out rugged. Was described as “husky, solid, clear bone, muscle and grit”.

Back to work.

12 jonesy February 8, 2010 at 3:20 am

Damn good article. It made me think me of the difference between my older brother and me in high school – I had the brains, but he had the hustle. I was content just to coast along doing pretty well with minimal effort (only putting in the effort at the end of high school), but he hustled his ass off and did far better than anyone had expected, and I still respect him for that more than anything.

I’m now a sophomore in college and he’s finishing his law degree; you’ve made me realise that I’ve fallen into my old pattern of just doing “well enough”. Time for me to get hustlin’.

Thanks AoM, I needed this.

13 Richard | February 8, 2010 at 4:35 am

Excellent points and very inspiring. Start hustling fellas!

14 erik February 8, 2010 at 4:40 am

Great piece man!

I’ve been on a “path of hustle” myself, but it’s nice to get that kick in the ass to keep the eyes focused.

15 Barry February 8, 2010 at 4:56 am

“You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do” – Henry Ford.

All of us have plans and ideas and dreams but how many of us are out there working and pushing to turn them into reality? Not many. Most of us won’t. Most of us will read this article, recognise the truth in it…and still do nothing.

Most of us will be able to come up excuses or justifications for why something ‘couldn’t’ happen or why we never did the work that we felt was inside us. But most of us will know the truth; that we were too afraid to go out there and make it happen.

And the saddest thing of all is that most of us will look back and wonder what it was that we were so afraid of. Failure, loss of face, rejection, the knowledge that we gave it our all only to find we just weren’t good enough; these fears which are overwhelmingly paralysing now will seem trivial and inconsequential when we measure our lives at their end.

For now, most of us will be content to stick with the status quo because at least there is always the possibility that we could roll up our sleeves and succeed in the future. Most of us will secretly prefer the existence of that potential to the possibility of trying and failing.

But one day, All of us will run out futures. The days where we could have succeeded will have passed us by and there will be more tomorrows where our potential may yet be realised. Only then, too late, will we realise that we can only judge ourselves on what we have done – not what we could have done.

Most of us will die without ever really trying to do or be the things we wanted in life. At the end, most of us will not have lived the lives we wanted to live or become the men we wanted to be. Most of us will leave this world with a hidden sorrow in our hearts that we could have been so much more if we hadn’t let fear stop us from committing ourselves fully to the pursuit of our dreams and passions.

And yet all of us have the choice now to stand up and say ‘I will not be like most men. I will not be controlled by fear, I will not go quietly into the long darkness without doing all I can do to be the man I want to be. I will chase my dreams, I will follow my heart, I will put all that I am capable of in the service of my goals and at the end of days, I will be ready to sleep soundly in the knowledge that, success or failure, I could have done and been no more.’

Ultimately, the choice is ours…

16 Steve M February 8, 2010 at 6:27 am

A well timed article. My step son (24 years old) believes he is going above and beyond the call of duty by working 35-40 hours a week. He is living with us as he can’t pay all his credit card debt and rent at the same time. The concept of hustling and obtaining a second job is beyond his comprehension. I have seen this time and time again with young men his age. Hopefully your excellent article will have an impact and a shot of inspiration for men his age and his mindset to realize that success seldom occurs in a forty hour work week.

17 Rod Dunne February 8, 2010 at 7:05 am

I’ve just completed Robert Greenes book The 50th Law on Amazon which is an excellent analysis of using hustling techniques.

It centres around the life of 50 Cent who successfully brought his ‘no-fear’ attitude from the streets to the music industry… I’m not a fan of his tunes, but am now a fan of his work ethic & approach.

Robert pulls in details of many other hustlers across the ages (Malcolm X, Miles Davis, Machiavelli, Dostoyevsky, Charlie Parker, etc) in an excellent read.

18 Hayley February 8, 2010 at 7:25 am


I know a male trainee chef who quit because he couldn’t face a 60-70 hour week for the next three years. Thing is, he is a really talented chef IMHO. I guess not everyone has the drive required to reach the heights of any particular trade.

19 Ron February 8, 2010 at 7:27 am

First, I agree with this whole concept. Second, I like it. However, sometimes there comes a point when all the hustling and extra hard work can lead to “burn out”. Imagine if life were a race. Sure, there are those whom lead the pack, but most everyone is average. An average person can’t run forever, they can’t sprint full speed all the time. Even after hitting the proverbial wall and conquering it, exhaustion may become a factor. I usually spend my life in such cycles: being the “best of the best” in college or in my career or in my relationships and then I burn out. I find myself much like Lincoln, with times of greatness and times of horrible melancholy and deadly depression. How does one find a happy medium or a balance?

20 Matt February 8, 2010 at 7:46 am

Excellent article, it’s great to know the man behind the website. Barry; truly inspired comments. I take my hat of to you sir.
I make a point of learning about great men and their accomplishments, and in all of my research into vastly different men with vastly different lives there was one constant theme; hard work. Whether it was sportsmen or intellectuals, great leaders or great artists, they were all very hard workers. From the great Theodore Roosevelt to Michael Schumacher, from George Lucas to John Lennon, they were all hustlers and captains of their own destiny.

21 Dan S. February 8, 2010 at 8:19 am

Not to give anyone an excuse to read something before taking action… but I’ve returned to this book repeatedly to keep me focussed and moving ahead.

“Ignore Everybody” by Hugh MacLeod

It’s hard to summarize, but the basic idea is that the most successful people are those who are working hard on something they believe in despite what those around them might think or believe.

Here’s some quotes (you can see, it was hard for me to pick just one):

“So you’ve got the itch to do something. Write a screenplay, start a painting, write a book, turn your recipe for fudge brownies into a proper business, whatever. You don’t know where the itch came from, it’s almost like it just arrived on your doorstep, uninvited. Until now you were quite happy holding down a real job, being a regular person… Until now.”

“[Your] metaphorical Mount Everest doesn’t have to manifest itself as “Art”. For some people, yes, it might be a novel or a painting. But Art is just one path up the mountain, one of many. With others the path may be something more prosaic. Making a million dollars, raising a family, owning the most Burger King franchises in the Tri-State area, building some crazy oversized model airplane, the list has no end.

Whatever. Let’s talk about you now. Your mountain. Your private Mount Everest. Yes, that one. Exactly.”

“So if somebody wants to rip my idea off, go ahead. If somebody wants to overtake me in [my field], go ahead. You’ve got many long years in front of you. And unlike me, you won’t be doing it for the joy of it. You’ll be doing it for some self-loathing, ill-informed, lame-ass mercenary reason. So the years will be even longer and far, far more painful. Lucky you.

If somebody in your industry is more successful than you, it’s probably because he works harder at it than you do. Sure, maybe he’s more inherently talented, more adept at networking etc, but I don’t consider that an excuse. Over time, that advantage counts for less and less. Which is why the world is full of highly talented, network-savvy, failed mediocrities.”

“Put the hours in, do it for long enough and magical, life-transforming things happen eventually. Sure, that means less time watching TV, internet surfing, going out or whatever.

But who cares?”

22 Graham Hutson February 8, 2010 at 8:39 am

Very sage advice as usual. I’m currently going through that stage where I’m wondering if I’m hustling in the right direction. I long to become my own boss and have gone down the ‘work to support my dream’ route, as I try and get my blog off the ground. It is picking up, but hell is it a thankless task.

I guess hustling is essentially perserverance, for want of a better word.

23 DJ Wetzel February 8, 2010 at 8:40 am

Wow! What a swift kick in the pants for a Monday morning.

I know personally I struggle with feeling entitled to a good paying job simply because I graduated college. My wife constantly reminds me that just because I have a college degree I am not guaranteed a high salary, or any salary at all. I keep saying that I have all of these big, fanciful business ideas swirling around in my head, but really, I just need to man up, take an assertive action towards starting one of them, and do it!

I look at my Dad,who has vowed against my mother working outside of the home so she could focus on raising me and my sister. He worked two or three jobs, got his contractor’s license so he could build us a house we could never have afforded otherwise, started multiple streams of income, and still had enough time to spend with his family and raise us properly.

My hats off to those who hustle, the world is indeed a better place!

24 Adam February 8, 2010 at 8:46 am

This article needs to be posted on national news. I am so tired of hearing about and seeing people that think the world owes them everything. Nobody owes you anything. Grow a set, and Man up!

Keep up the good work.

25 Ron February 8, 2010 at 9:12 am

Great post! We need more men to step up now. Enough of the fearful man that sits and waits. They do nothing for society but breed fear. Let’s step up as real man and really make a difference in this world.

26 CB February 8, 2010 at 9:14 am

@Ron: This isn’t tried and true advice. Life is cyclical. You’re right you can’t go full steam indefinitely. You have to have a way to recharge yourself. Some people take a retreat to hunt or fish. Some just get away from the world for a few days. I think the best retreat is one where you focus on things that recharge you not where you just sleep and veg infront of the tv for days on end. For me, sometimes music can recharge me. Other times it’s hanging out with friends hiking or playing ultimate frisbee. Other times it’s putting work on hold to spend time with my wife either helping her or doing things she likes.
The point isn’t to do nothing. Doing nothing leads to guilt that you should be doing something which leads to depression. The point is to do something that’s refreshing to you that. And often, I’d venture, that involves people you care about. AOM 45 Manly Hobbies article could be a good place to start.
It takes some time to figure out what works for you, but I’ll guarantee when you take some time to recharge yourself periodically, you’ll be able to maintain that hustle much longer and you won’t burn out as often.

27 Adam Rogge February 8, 2010 at 9:44 am

Great Post! I continually try and stress this fact to my children, but there are times it doesn’t seem to come from my mouth correctly. This gives me another venue to use on why hustle is so important.

Well said sir.

28 Hans Hageman February 8, 2010 at 10:17 am

This message is particularly important with our new economic condition. Too many men have chosen the option to be paralyzed with fear. I see this at every income level.

29 Jim February 8, 2010 at 10:50 am

Great article! One of my favorites. Thank you.

The things we do today determine who we will be tomorrow.

30 Mike February 8, 2010 at 10:53 am

Great advice. I needed to be reminded that hard work and setting goals still works.

31 Michael February 8, 2010 at 11:00 am

Great Post! I think the most important point is, it takes time to do anything worth doing. So keep your chins up and your feet to the pavement.

32 Gary Prindiville III February 8, 2010 at 11:05 am


Great post, very relevant personally and to all the men out there.

Quick question, How did you manage your relationship with Kate during the time of law school, work, AOM, and book? How did she handle it?

Many thanks and blessings!

33 name February 8, 2010 at 11:11 am

Classic Type-A over-achiever/workaholic personality thinking. It has as many drawbacks as advantages. And in the end, it doesn’t make you any more happy or fulfilled.

34 Joseph Lenze February 8, 2010 at 11:14 am

Great article Brett!!!

35 John Sifferman February 8, 2010 at 11:16 am

Definitely needed to hear that today – thank you.

36 Nate @ Practical Manliness February 8, 2010 at 11:34 am

Thank you for the great post and especially for sharing your personal story.

After I finish college, I plan to attend law school while blogging and working, so your success story is a big encouragement.

Now, time for me to start hustling!

37 Kevin Shinn February 8, 2010 at 12:02 pm

I’ve only recently discovered your site, but it has made it to the top of my list in my RSS feeder of first read articles. I don’t usually take time to make comments on stuff I read, but what I find here is so worth my time, I felt I must stop and give some credit.

I recently left a 15 year career to start my own restaurant five years ago. I have no food service experience; only a work ethic, which pushed me through countless days of non-stop work, but we now have a successful, growing restaurant that I am proud of.

Over the years, I’ve found it doesn’t take much to rise above the crowd, but how seldom do we see men take the effort to do so.

Thanks for a great site!


38 Brett McKay February 8, 2010 at 12:35 pm


Good question! It was definitely not a fun 3 years for either of us. There were plenty of hard times. The biggest thing that helped is that Kate is incredibly understanding and supportive. She wanted me to succeed, so she knew I wouldn’t be around as much as she liked. She also helped me a ton with the blog, of course. I couldn’t have done it without her.

There were other things that helped as well. She taught during the day and took a tutoring job at night, so that she wouldn’t be sitting around the house feeling lonely without me there. I called her several times during the day and we would im frequently. A big thing was that we religiously kept a date night. One night a week we would go out together and do something fun. And before my finals started, we would always take a weekend camping trip, to fill up her love tank sort to speak, before I would really retreat into my law cave. Also, since we’ve been married, we’ve shared a car. We do it to save money, but it also helped our relationship during this time. The law school was 20 minutes from our place, so Kate would drive me in the morning and pick me up at night. This “commute” was our time to connect and catch up about what was going on and helped keep us sane.

39 Rich February 8, 2010 at 12:41 pm

Having just completed my first semester of law school I can relate to this post. I work a full time job and go to law school at night. The summer before law school I got advice from current students to take the summer off and enjoy myself before school starts. I felt that was bad advice. I got a lot of prep books and starting reading them after work. I practiced taking the tests. When school started I got even busier. I don’t stop working. Now I like being busy. I get bored watching TV, even sports. I did not end up #1 in my class but I was top 10. I find the harder I work the easier it is to work hard.

40 Tyler Tervooren February 8, 2010 at 12:48 pm

This post really did give me goosebumps. Totally cliche, I know, but it did.

I’m 25 and just got laid off from my corporate job on Friday. I’ve been trying to solidify my own self employment plans for awhile, but the stakes just got a lot higher.

I’m heading into the office right now to negotiate my severance package and then it’s straight home to start hustling. There are no more excuses. Not even a break to read AoM!

41 bob February 8, 2010 at 12:54 pm

I think of hustle in 2 ways: big picture hustle and daily hustle. big picture requires a vision. but it cant happen without DAILY hustle first….

here are a few thoughts on getting into daily action….
>I conceive of the planning part of the brain as being in a different location than the action part; and moving my focus from one to the other requires effort, pain even. So tell yourself… I am gonna start working and it will suck for the first 10 minute; that’s just a cost of doing business, so accept it! you must cross the 10 minute river of transition to get to the land of action…so suck it up and get in the water. It will be great over there.

> I also keep in mind that the first 10 minutes stink because that is when you are loading situation-specific information into your head. where is the fun in that? its like when you are waiting for your computer to start… but it HAS to happen, so again, suck it up and realize it will be over in 10 minutes. don’t make a mountain of that 1o minute mole hill!!! do it for 10 minutes, and even promise yourself that you can quit after 10 honest minutes of startup on your project. (but if you give honest effort in the first 10 minutes, you won’t want to stop!!!! you’ll be on a roll….)

>So here is a specific action technique to help with that 10 minutes of no man’s land…. I keep a couple of weights behind my office door, and if I am stuck (too much email, dithering, or whatever) I get up, toss those babies around for 5 minutes, and get my blood flowing. I am engaging my body (part of any real man) and I get moving physically. then it becomes easier to get moving mentally. I actually try to work on office tasks for 5 more minutes while standing up …. once my mojo is going, I am off to the races.


42 Tom February 8, 2010 at 1:04 pm

I know this personally to be a fundamental truth. After nearly 3 years in business, it’s finally starting to come to fruition. The really cool part is that my business is in something that can help one to overcome the blocks to progress. We can sit here and tell men to suck it up and get out there and just do it, but it’s not quite that easy. Imagine where we would all be if it were. Through self talk, we can quickly and easily sabotage ourselves. It’s not so easy to get past the writing on our walls that was put there unintentionally by our parents, teachers and others in our lives, at a time when we were most impressionable. We also don’t need years of psychotherapy to eliminate those blocks. What do they look like? One of the biggest ones is, “I’m not good enough.” Another fear for me was being big in the world. God, if I succeeded, all eyes would be on me and I would have a huge reputation to maintain. I have overcome those blocks and I’m now one step closer to actualizing my dream. Always remember, it’s never too late.
I work with a nonprofit men’s wellness organization and one of the workshops I’m going to put together after reading this inspiring article, is one that will help men get past the blocks that hold them back. In the very near future and with the power of Skype, I will also offer phone work as well. Have a good day gentleman, and go get ‘em!

43 Lynn Heath February 8, 2010 at 1:25 pm

Hustle, but know your limitations. I did OK in college even though I was average in intelligence, the same was true in sports. In my career I thought my hustle would pay off in advancement of my goals. In the middle of my career I realized butting my head against a brick wall, so I hustled “around” it…I recognized that what I wanted I was simply not talented enough to achieve because another hustlers with more actual talent got there first. Recognize your limitations without slacking off on your hustle. It was a hard lesson to learn. But I succeeded with a new goal.

44 Jack McGowan February 8, 2010 at 1:32 pm

What a great write! If you can’t relate to this article, then you can’t relate. I may ad that Hustle can become a habit and the two hardest parts of a habit are starting one and ending one. Hustle is one of the greatest habits to not be able to stop, so get hustling now!

45 Gabriel February 8, 2010 at 1:44 pm

Brett, you say you’re of “average” innate talent. After reading this article, I disagree; you have a natural talent for writing. Seems like you’ve found the call of your life. Inspiring article, as always!

46 bob February 8, 2010 at 1:48 pm

one other thing:

I think that in the US we are afflicted with ‘exceptionalism’. by that I mean that we tend to think that if we are not exceptional, then we are nothing. If you aren’t a millionaire, you’re a loser; if the girl isn’t hotter than megan fox, then she is nothing….
the wiser path is to hustle all you can, and have the humility to accept the result. have the wisdom to know the things you can change, as well as the ones you can’t. and keep hustling :-).
here’s the good news….. being in a culture full of slackers increases one’s odds to be great! just don’t think it is inevitable.


47 jeremy February 8, 2010 at 2:46 pm

Reminds me of the tail end of Janis Joplin’s song “Move over” from her ‘In Concert’ cd…

“A while back, it was about a year ago, I think it was, I had this apartment in San Francisco, I lived on the third floor in this little tiny apartment building, had a little two rooms and a dog, right. I lived on the third floor and I used to walk around town and I had, you know, a couple of pairs of Levis and a couple T-shirts and I thought I had my shit pretty good together, man. You know I was out on the streets talking and talking, doing all that shit, and every time I found a nice piece of talent he went right straight downstairs to the chick on the second floor, there was another chick on the second floor, right. And I couldn’t understand, I couldn’t understand, I kept thinking, Janis, why are you doing wrong suddenly ? Well I so decided to get up one morning, ha ha ha, and check out the chick’s action, right, figure out what she had going that I didn’t have going. I got up at 9:30 in the morning, which I want you to know is an effort on my part. And I got up at 9:30 in the morning, I hid in the stairwell right next to the chick’s across from her apartment, right. And I watched her and watched to see what she had, man, that I didn’t have. And I’ll tell you what she had man, that chick hit the streets at noon. I mean I didn’t use to get up till three. That chick was already in the street hustling, man. So I figured out what you gotta do, man. Every time you’re looking for a little piece of action and you ain’t getting none, man, you know what you better do, baby, you better try harder, man.”

48 Dr. Rod Berger February 8, 2010 at 4:17 pm

Thanks for the post! I am torn after reading your post and comments from readers (example Adam) who say men should “get a set.” I support that we all need to work harder and believe in our ability to change a bad situation into a good and prosperous one. Where I am a bit hesitant is in folks, like Adam, who fail to see the importance of context; That men need to make sure that this new found energy level and hustle aren’t rooted in and connected to our value, but rather based in a passion for personal growth and strength. There have been too many men who have hustled in the name of making others happy and supporting the notion that we males are valued on our checking accounts, cars, and trophy wives. Thoughts?
Dr. Rod

49 Greg Zummo February 8, 2010 at 4:50 pm

This is becoming one of my favorite blogs. Everytime I read it, I find more good advice to help me become the man I want to be. Thanks again for yet another swift kick in the ass.

50 Grant Parker February 8, 2010 at 5:28 pm
51 Andy February 8, 2010 at 5:53 pm

This has to be one of the most inspirational things I have ever read on this website, or any website for that matter.

52 B2design February 8, 2010 at 5:53 pm

Great post!

As a man who works a full-time job, runs a company on the side and is working in an accelerated degree program (in addition to being a husband and father), I can vouch for the Hustle Mentality.

Get off your ass, guys. If you don’t like the situation you’re in, do something about it! If you want to make things better for your family, then DO IT!

Make. It. Happen.

We have it soooo easy these days. Big screen TVs, comfy beds, plenty of food… It’s time to put some hard work into being a MAN.

53 Brett McKay February 8, 2010 at 6:42 pm


Thanks for the kind words about my writing. But honestly, I had to hustle for that too! As an undergrad my writing was terrible. And I’m not doing some “false humility” bit either. It was really bad. I had to practice a lot, be humble enough to allow my wife to edit and tear apart my stuff, and read a bunch of “how-to” writing style books. I still read style books even now. Law school also helped a ton, and forced me to practice a lot. Perhaps I had some innate talent lurking in there all along, but I had to work a lot to bring it out.

54 Tim February 8, 2010 at 6:49 pm

Excellent post as usual. It’s just what I needed to keep me going for my last semester of graduate school. Well said sir!

55 Tanner February 8, 2010 at 7:45 pm

Brett, once again you have hit it out of the park. I don’t think I’ll ever stop being amazed by the grit that is the Art of Manliness. These are principles that my parents taught us while we were growing up, and we were ostracized for it. In the end, it’s better being a man among boys than just another perpetual adoslescent.

This principle is essential to being a good citizen of your community and nation along with being a man. Keep it up my friend.

56 Leif February 8, 2010 at 7:53 pm

One thing is that you need a clear goal or two in mind to hustle towards. If you hustle on this and that and this and that then you risk not going anywhere. Obvious to most people, but I have a problem fingering out the obvious sometimes, well more often than I’d care to admit

57 Vince R February 8, 2010 at 8:14 pm

hustle is not enough. it is essential, but i would add the following:

1) hustle outside of your comfort zone. working hard using skills you have down pat will not make you better.

2) it is important to find a mentor. if you are making the same mistakes over and over, you will be wasting a lot of your hustle.

3) have a reason for your hustling. if you try to hustle doing something simply for money, for example, you are much more likely to give up than if you hustle for something that truly stirs your passion.

this from a very thought provoking book i read called ‘Talent is Overrated’. It discussed such icons as Jerry Rice, Mozart, Tiger Woods, Bobby Fischer, and how what set them apart was not innate gifts, but a common set of ‘hustle’ techniques.

58 Pierino February 8, 2010 at 8:26 pm

I have friends who have told me for years is all about hustling. My best friend has always told me “never hustle backward because you will never accomplish anything” but I need some advice about my situation. I am active duty military and I have entered that state where I feel I’m just spinning my wheels. I have a MAJOR sense of duty and I have nearly a thousand total days deployed under my belt but I’m no longer feeling job fulfillment with my current position. I have volunteered for every job that comes down the pipe and reached out to all the points of contact for these jobs but I’m still doing the same thing. I love being in the military but am I not hustling hard enough to get a new job? I know the military is way different that the CIV world but do I need to go even harder at it? If anyone can help me any advice is helpful.

59 DH February 8, 2010 at 8:36 pm

This article reminds me of Gattaca…great movie….work ethic carries you a looong way….

60 Stephen February 8, 2010 at 9:02 pm

Well, I feel tired just reading that ;).

I think you’re perfectly right, a lot of things don’t particularly need great smarts to achieve but what they do need is someone to plug away at the work involved until they’re done.

61 Brett McKay February 8, 2010 at 9:11 pm

Thank you for the kind words gents. I’m glad the piece has resonated.


Very true. Our exceptionalism is making this generation quite restless. In the 50′s an ordinary life was the definition of success. Now it’s a fate worse than death! A man should hustle to go as far as he can go. And then he must be able to enjoy the ordinary things in life.


A great point. I actually have a good manvotional on that very idea planned for Sunday. It’s not enough just to be busy, you have to be working towards a real goal.


Gattaca is one of my favorite films. The part where Ethan Hawke’s brother asks him, “How are you doing this? How have you done any of this?” And he answers, “I never left anything for the way back!” Classic.

62 Bill February 8, 2010 at 10:49 pm

Great article. I’m sending it to my nephew. He’s 23 and just graduated college last December as an illustrator. He’s been working in a small restaurant all during school and he’s still there. No real plans, just barely working, living at home with his folks. Says he’s looking for a job but who knows. I suggested something in retail or waiting tables in a nice restaurant so he could make decent tips. I guess he’s content to have nothing until his ship comes in. If anyone needs an illustrator let me know. I’ll contact him after noon when he gets out of bed.

63 Tom February 8, 2010 at 10:59 pm

I’ve been reading since August and man, nothing but good posts, I love it.

This one in particular really struck me, I’m in my first year of technical college with university on the horizon, everything I do in class is related to calculus, everything is math — everything. Never having been very good at math or school growing up this seemed like a huge challenge, and it was always easy to fall back to my slacker ways.

I was honestly feeling like I might need a change in plans, that maybe engineering is not for me despite finding it interesting, I was just not able to hack this sort of workload.

After reading this article, it was like a bucket of cold water. Today, moments after reading this post I tracked down a tutor and made sure I got the instruction I needed to keep up with the assigned work, I’m now making flash cards and have set a study schedule.

Whether you’re above average or not, ‘hustling’ is the only thing that can take you there.

64 Alex February 8, 2010 at 11:30 pm

Great article. Very inspirational, indeed.

65 Fisayo February 9, 2010 at 12:42 am


just inspiring….This post is awesome, just what I need. I have that feeling like you described like i’m destined for something great but I’ve just been so lazy and expecting to get by on my natural abilities and life will just gimme stuff. And when its not happening i’m like wtf, and i make sure i have excuses to all back on, but deep down inside, i know i could have hustled more. thank you. thank you

66 Stephen Yenika February 9, 2010 at 12:49 am

This is one of the best posts I’ve ever read on your blog. I’m on my way to Law School in the fall and this just got me that much more excited to go through the rigor of it.

67 Lawrence February 9, 2010 at 12:52 am

There truly is no substitute for a strong work ethic, but I think I have to strongly agree with some of the fellows regarding the downsides an overdrive can bring.

I’ve pushed myself to meet several lofty goals and often end up with this love hate memory of the achievement and time spent. Incredibly proud of the success but hate what I had to cut out of my life to achieve it.

I had the privelidge of hearing Alan Mullaly, CEO of Ford, speak while studying engineering at KU. When asked what is important for being able to achieve his major goals, balance was #1. This is something I struggle with constantly.

It is also important to note that the exaggerated hustle mentality can lead to a polarized Type A personality. While the extremities of hustle will almost always be beneficial to personal goals and interests, it can become troublesome for team environments. I’ve dealt with a handful of over zealous Type A’s on design teams and they can be as much a hindrance as help.

Great article.

PS: Tom if you ever want some pointers on surviving engineering school, hit me up. I too sucked at math. I don’t know if you brain is like mine, but things made sense for my if it was represented graphically or in an applied manner.

68 Nate February 9, 2010 at 1:00 am

Hustle is a word that isn’t used enough today. This was a great read and reminder to keep hustling and make things happen for yourself. Thanks!

69 Fisayo February 9, 2010 at 1:15 am

This reminds me of one of my supervisors at work. He’s like a mentor to me. I remember a couple of weeks ago I was fed up with work (research) because I wasn’t getting results and being the new guy, my patience was running thin. And he pulled me aside and told me a bit of his story. He came from Egypt after getting his pharmacy degree to get a PhD which led him into research. When he first started in the lab, he said he had a rough time getting things done because though he was book smart, he didn’t even know how to use a computer and had to get people to help him but he hustled. He said he’d spend all day and night in the lab reading, learning, and figuring out the system, how to use the computer to his advantage. in his own words, he was a bachelor, so what else would he do with his time, he had no family to look after. and it got to a point that his boss had to start locking the doors on the weekend so he’d stop staying there all through.

my mind almost couldn’t fathom this when he said it. but that is what hustling is about.

70 Brian February 9, 2010 at 1:54 am

I’ve never really felt inspired to comment on a blog post until now, but I must say that this post is particularly inspiring.

I’m one of those men “on year seven of a four year degree,” and while I am currently in school I feel like a bit more “hustle” would be helpful in getting this undergrad thing wrapped-up.

Thanks for the words of encouragement. It’s time to write a couple of papers.

71 Mark February 9, 2010 at 3:19 am

I truly wish with all of my heart that this blog had existed when I was still in school. Very inspiring!

72 Brandon February 9, 2010 at 9:04 am

Great blog post. Definitely what I needed to read today.

73 Zach February 9, 2010 at 12:40 pm

This article hit the spot. the only thing i think he left out was don’t expect anybody to acknowledge your efforts. great read.

74 Patrick H. Ouzts February 9, 2010 at 3:05 pm

This comment is so far down the list I am sure it will never get noticed, but I think this is relatively important to add in.

You have to surround yourself with hustlers. If you are around lazy, child-men then you will be the same. Birds of the feather….

But what I am recently learning is how much this applies to family too. If there is just one person pulling all the weight, the hustle breaks down.

So with friends, family, spouses, children, drive them to be better too.

When I was on a state-championship wrestling team, I also picked the best wrestlers as my drill partner. Yeah, I got my butt kicked, but I also got a lot better. As iron sharpens iron, good men must constantly sharpen each other.

75 Scott February 9, 2010 at 3:16 pm

Hi! This is a great article — one of your best, in fact.


76 Phil February 9, 2010 at 5:19 pm

This article reminds me to get out of the “woe is me” and “the economy sucks” stages. Thanks. Love the blog.


New York

77 Frank February 9, 2010 at 7:25 pm

Thomas Edison was a hustler eh? I wonder what Nikola Tesla would think about that!

Otherwise, great, inspiring article.

78 Playstead February 9, 2010 at 8:12 pm

This might be the best AOM post in months. Brett, you did a great job of mixing your life lessons into a post that has centuries of stories to back up the premise. There is also a ton of new studies and articles that back this up including Gladwell’s “Outliers” and the new parenting book “NurtureShock” that proves that teaching your kids to work hard trumps talent every time.
Good word, keep it up.

79 JohnO February 9, 2010 at 9:58 pm

Well said. And yes hustling is tiring. I love hearing how some of my fellow grad students “just don’t have time to do things”, like meet with the dean about the future of the program. Try going part-time and working full-time in a career software job, sitting in that meeting with the dean and hearing people say that. I really do not understand why people think good things will just happen to them and they’ll get everything they’ve always wanted.

80 John Z February 10, 2010 at 1:02 am

You have written many articles I consider great. . . but this one has already been life-changing.


81 Neil February 10, 2010 at 9:04 am

Just wanted to say that the article was very inspiring Brett. Thanks!

One thing it made me want to ask is this… You mention that one could start a blog as a way to start one’s own business. Maybe on the next AoM podcast you could have your wife interview you about your blog. You could tell us what you’ve learned about blogging and how one makes money doing it. Because as awesome as it sounds, I’m a bit in the dark about it, though I do have a few ideas of my own. I did listen to the last AoM podcast and found that inspiring too. I’m currently reading ‘Total Money Makeover’ by Dave Ramsey and I knew one of Ramsey’s books would’ve been mentioned and it was! Anyway thanks again and I’d be very interested to hear your experience and success about blogging.

Thanks again!

New Jersey (but originally from Utah!)

82 Abe February 10, 2010 at 12:20 pm

great post. thank you! i am doing a year long unpaid internship far from home right now and am having a hard time explaining why i don’t take days off to go home. this article sums it up perfectly!

83 Saving Her Life February 10, 2010 at 1:57 pm

Fantastic article. Absolutely fantastic.

84 Mike Norris February 10, 2010 at 3:31 pm

A great article.

85 Dennard February 10, 2010 at 7:46 pm

Really good article, Brett. Reminds me of a piece of advice from T.R. Success comes down to manning up!

86 Diego Zacarias February 11, 2010 at 12:29 am

This has got to be one of the greatest articles I have ever read on the internet, ever.

87 Emerson February 11, 2010 at 12:59 am

I just found this site a little while ago and i think its freaking awesome. I was afraid that my generation(Y) was gonna turn out a bunch of skinny paper pushing pussies, but I’ve now realized there is still hope for American Men of tomorrow. I wish that guys on this site were our societies idols, today to many people idolize these little sissy veagan pussies instead of real men. We could really use another Reagan or T. Roosevelt about now.

88 Sir Lancelot February 11, 2010 at 7:01 am

I join the round of applause.

89 Gaurav M February 11, 2010 at 7:10 am

Just what i need
inspirational LETS HUSTLE

90 Suzanne February 11, 2010 at 12:56 pm

Brett, thank you so much for this article. It was handed out and discussed in my daughter’s H.S. English class the morning after I had a long talk with her about needing to step it up, set some goals and get to work. In fact, I think I almost used your exact same words: “…[you've] just been doing the bare minimum to coast along in life. [You] think “showing up” constitutes real effort…” We have struggled with this bright, talented, lazy kid for years and as she closes in on her final year and a half of H.S. we have been growing increasingly concerned. But, yesterday she came home with your article in hand and the light switch ON. It’s the first time in her young adult life that I have seen her truly inspired to get into the driver’s seat and take control of her future. I am putting a copy of your article into her high school records file so that one day down the road she’ll remember this turning point. Thank you!!

91 Jason February 11, 2010 at 9:24 pm

Very well said. Thanks for the inspiration!

92 Core February 11, 2010 at 9:37 pm

Great article. Its hard for me to admit, but everything you say is true. We need men who hustle, and I look forward to becoming one of those men. (Even if it takes me awhile to do so)

93 Dazz February 12, 2010 at 4:35 am

OP: “Now hustle can’t turn you into Michael Jordan if you just don’t have the natural talent. But it will take you farther than you and those around you thought was possible.”

When Michael Jordan tried out for his varisty high school basketball team he was cut. If he was blessed with natural bball talent wouldn’t he have made the team?

Great article though!

94 Phil Bolton - Less Ordinary Living February 12, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Hurrah for this article and this blog. Hustling is so underrated and it certainly inspired me to look at my days a little different. Some days I am the opposite of hustle. Thank you!

95 Caleb February 12, 2010 at 3:57 pm

“Gaining Favor with God and Man” by William Thayer. everything you said is in his book. it was published in the mid 1800′s. it’s great on how there are just facts and standards in life like that.

96 Alex Smeets February 13, 2010 at 1:35 am

I am 17 at the moment, living in rural America, and I am glad to say that I already have a fair amount of hustle in me. I have always been interested in art, so all of my life I have taken many different art classes, spread out over a few states. I am now to the point where I have built my own black-smithing forge in my backyard, and I make Damascus knives. I have also learned to do many kinds of woodworking and some carpentry. I have also helped my father with many house projects throughout my life and have learned many things from him, and I don’t think I could have asked for a better father. At the moment I am a home-schooler that is in his senior year of high-school, I am taking night classes at a welding shop, and I am getting ready to teach a Swedish knife making class at a local art gallery. I plan to continue on like this in my life, and I owe it all to people like you guys who bring out the best in men, (and young men alike) and who help them achieve great things in life.

Thank you for making and keeping this website going.

97 José Roberto February 13, 2010 at 1:54 pm

I think is true. We need be men with the vision, passion, and corage to do what we have to do.

98 david February 13, 2010 at 2:47 pm
99 Steve February 13, 2010 at 6:59 pm

WoW! Great Article! For me, I’ve always been thinking that I’m not smart enough to compete with others, and why I suck at everything I do, failed many times for many classes in college and It seems that I’m just not smart. I always ask myself ” how did they do it, why they are so smart, why I’m still the same while others have moved on and living a better life” Hard Work, Believe, courage, and take risk!

100 tayo February 13, 2010 at 7:38 pm

I love u man, I don’t know who you are but i am truly inspired by work. i am even buying more book cos i read the about 100 books to be read. I have read some of it.

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