Hustle and grow

When Pat Riley was coaching the New York Knicks in the early 1990s, he wanted to motivate his team. The team kept the usual stats on scoring, assists, rebounds, but Riley decided to begin measuring hustle – how many rebounds players went for even if they didn’t succeed; how many times a player would make an extra effort to snatch a loose ball; how often someone would make a steal attempt. Riley posted his “Hustle Stats” in the Knicks’ locker room after every game, without any additional comment. Riley’s players took notice and soon became a top-level team.

Focus on results, yes, but keep an eye on your level of effort to reach the top.

It’s no different in business. It’s just that the stats are reflected in the bottom line.

I recently saw two T-shirts that grabbed my attention. One read “Hustle or go broke.” The other read “Hustle now/relax later.” If there was ever a shirt for an entrepreneur, this would be the one.

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That’s what I did when I started my envelope-manufacturing company. I basically kissed my wife and told her, “I’ll see you in five years.” It takes that kind of hustle to get a business off the ground.

There are several attributes a person needs to succeed in life. Two of them are outside our control – talent and luck. Hustle is a third component, and it can be developed and cultivated. Hustling is important for anyone who wants to be successful.

Good things may come to those who wait, but only the things that are left by those who hustle. I’ve always felt that it doesn’t take any special ability to hustle, just a deep-down burning desire to get ahead. Anything you lack in talent can be made up with desire.

President Thomas Jefferson said: “Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing.”

Hustlers know they need to develop two skills. First is learning to network. Often, it’s not what you know, but who you know. You need to know as many people as possible before you might need their help. And knowing the right people can save time.

Second, you must reject reacting negatively to rejection. Rejection is part of life. You can’t avoid it. Handling rejection is a necessary skill for success, especially in … sales.

I like to analyze every failure. I always want to know why people say no to my sales proposals, and I’m not afraid to ask. Was it me? Was it my product? Price? Think about what you could have done differently. Then record it in your post-call notes. The next time, you’ll be better prepared.

Forbes magazine once did a story on the nine habits of productive people. One of them was focus, specifically using your morning to focus on yourself and what you need to accomplish that day.

A sure way to fail is to lose focus.

It’s easy to have focus when everything is going well, but successful people keep their focus when they are staring at defeat. A sure way to fail is to lose focus.

Hustlers have intense, laser-like focus. They focus on one thing. Trying to get everything will get you nothing.

Hustlers don’t do things because they have to. They do things because they choose to. They have self-determination. They don’t blame others; they keep moving forward.

Most of us are scared stiff at the prospect of taking risks. Not hustlers. They embrace risk-taking. They think taking no risks is the biggest risk.

Hustlers love what they do. Imran Asghar, founder of the internet auto parts retailer 24/7 Spares, said: “If you don’t truly love what you do, it becomes very difficult to excel and experience success. It is much easier to dedicate the majority of your time to something when you are passionate about it.”

Finally, hustlers never quit. They have grit. They love to practice and get better each day.

Mackay’s Moral: Rustle up your hustle to build your business muscle.

Harvey Mackay is the author of the New York Times best-seller “Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive.” He can be reached through his website,