Hustling for business has become something of a badge of honour for business leaders, but boasting of doing long hours and hard labour is unsustainable, as one business consultant knows first-hand.
Angela Henderson of Australian Business Collaborative suggested that the word “hustle” these days has come to mean constantly moving — “because if you stop, you will not excel”.
Yet such a concept is counter-productive, as it quickly leads to burnout and mental health problems, she said.
“People do not start businesses to fail, they want the big bucks and lifestyle that comes with success,” Ms Henderson said.
“But many are not making it because they are burning out. Because what we are not told when we ‘hustle’ is to take time to look after your health, family and relationships. Hustling doesn’t take into account eating well and exercising.”
Ms Henderson suggested the lines have become dangerously blurred between what it means to work hard and to overwork.
“The modern-day hustle is a sure fire way to burn out. Yes, you have to work hard in a new business. Nothing is handed to you on a platter. But at what cost?” she asked.
“Today more than ever, mental illness is rife. There are pressures coming from everywhere. Women are expected to be super woman. Men are unsure about what they are meant to be. Our kids are glued to consoles. Those in business are striving to create something from nothing. We are an exhausted nation.”
Working long days led Ms Henderson to suffer from depression, and she is keen to help other business leaders avoid going the same way.
“We recently had a long weekend, and in many Facebook groups, there were people bragging about how they were working through, and what champions they are. Sure, their dedication is admirable, but what about their health, especially their mental health?” she said.
“With over 3,000 people taking their lives last year through suicide, it is time to reframe how we do business. The drive to hustle, grind and push ‘til you drop is not healthy — mentally or physically.”
In a bid to reduce the levels of burnout, she is urging everyone in business to take a step back and remember why they are in business, and the role that a business plays in their lives — i.e. work to live, not live to work.
“It [hustling] has become commonly used that people tie their performance to it. If people are not hustling, they are not doing well or if they are overhustling, and not doing well, then what is going on,” Ms Henderson said.
“It is ok to take a step back and run your own race. Give your self-permission to do it at your own pace.”
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.