The Seven Dwarfs never had to deal with a recession.
They suggested you whistle while you work.
Which is a great philosophy, unless you’re not working.
SHORT ANSWER: Hustle while you wait.
That’s what Edison preached and, more importantly, practiced. A thousand patents later, his disciplined work ethic paid off and paid well.
THE CHALLENGE IS: Executing what matters while waiting what’s coming.
Here’s how to hustle while you wait:
1. Learn to balance total relaxation and complete exertion. Right after breathing, this is the most important practice in yoga class. And while it sounds paradoxical, it’s actually quite powerful.
For example, in standing bow posture, your left arm is fully engaged, outstretched, reaching for the mirror. But your opposite right shoulder relaxes completely, thus opening your chest cavity.
It feels fantastic. And while this move takes some practice, striking the balance between relaxation and exertion equips you to drop deeper into the posture. Not just in yoga, but in life. That’s the cool part. Maybe you’re starting a business. Or creating an art piece. Or beginning a new project at work. Same principle applies. Your challenge is to relax and exert simultaneously.
Learn to ask yourself, “What unused, underleveraged component of this process can I engage while waiting for the paint to dry elsewhere?” Ultimately, this form of hustling starts with an attitudinal shift from effectiveness to efficiency. Are you willing to remain patient in one arena while relishing impatience in another?
2. Give away your talent to the market until they’re ready to pay for it. You can’t sit around waiting for your big break. You’ve got to learn how to manufacture your own big breaks by making yourself more breakable. Interestingly, the term “break” derives from the Old English brecan, which means, “to disclose.”
Interesting. Guess you can’t manufacture your own big break if you’re not sticking yourself out there. And I know you’re hesitant to give it away. I know you need money. But the world must sample your wares. Otherwise you’ll be waiting so long that you won’t feel like hustling anymore.
Personally, I’d rather work for free for a little while than not work at all. Why are you waiting to get paid doing something you love?
3. There’s many a slip twixt the cup and the lip. Or so says our tea-sipping, cricket-playing British friends. They suggest that even when the outcome of an event seems certain, things can still go wrong.
What’s more, many things may happen to prevent you from carrying out what you intend to do. That’s why it’s imperative to keep hustling till the last minute of your wait time. Be strong. Assume nothing. Otherwise complacency will get he best of you.
My suggestion: Instead of taking laps around the anxiety pool, go find something you can throw your shoulder into. Are you confusing patience with idleness?
4. Practice fertile idleness. This term was originally coined in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, a personal journal published in 1906. And even though the idea is over a century old, it’s still applicable today.
Take the airport, for example. It’s the perfect reminder that life is nothing but a series of lines. You’re not trying to get anywhere. You’re not waiting for the next moment. Life is the line. And once you realize that life doesn’t get any better than that, everything changes.
That’s when boredom ends and the fun begins. That’s when you learn to greet idleness with a welcoming heart and figure out how to leverage your wait time into something valuable.
For example, Japanese teens are masters of fertile idleness. Did you know that fifty percent of their bestselling books are written via text message? Believe it. They’re called shŏujī xiǎoshuō, or, “cell phone novels.” Written mainly by high school girls on trains, busses and other school day commutes, this new genre of art has changed the landscape of writing forever.
All because they hustled while they waited. Are you reading the news or making the news?
5. Refuse the path of emptiness. I started my business eight years ago. Since then, I’ve written eleven books. Each was composed, produced, published and distributed through my own company, as opposed to a traditional publishing model. And I’m proud to say, all of the books have been noticed by the people who matter, featured on national media and bought in profitable quantities worldwide.
Now, considering I’m just a one-man show, I’d say my books have done pretty well as an independent publisher. The exciting part is, I’ve been approached by dozens of major publishers over the years. And while I’m always honored by their generous offers, I still choose to hold out for the right one. I’m not worried. It’s only a matter of time before the right one comes along.
Until then, I’ll still be here at my office, cranking books out on my own. Your challenge is to employ the same philosophy: Ride the smaller waves like a champ, then, when the Big Kahuna comes along, pop up on your board and ride that baby to shore. Are you willing to be a patient incrementalist?
6. Aggressively bite into opportunities. I’m reminded of what the book of Zechariah reminds us: “Do not despise the day of small beginnings.” That statement runs my life. Because you never know. And you never will know unless you maintain an attitude of possibility, openness and leverage with everything you encounter.
It’s about making yourself approachable to the world. It’s about beginning with what is – then make something more beautiful out of it. That’s the best part about waiting: There’s always something to do. And don’t give me that, “But I’m so bored,” excuse.
Look: If you’re bored, you’re a boring person. Period. I haven’t been boring since Finance 301 senior year of college. Why? Because I don’t just hustle while I wait – I aggressively bite into opportunities while I wait. Dee-licious.
Remember: Opportunity never stops knocking – you just stop listening. What opportunity is going to pass you buy if you don’t act on it?
7. Don’t commit solely to one course of action. Focus is profitable, but not when executed at the expense of awareness. As I learned from Oriah’s The Dance, “Open the fist clenched in wanting and see what you already hold in your hand.”
Lesson learned: Beware of being too single-minded in your efforts. Otherwise over-focus fuels neglect, and obsession blocks opportunity. The secret is setting healthy boundaries.
For example, let’s say you plan to be out of commission for the five hours working diligently on your big proposal. Set an alarm. Have a friend call you. Anything to jolt you out of your flow state. Ultimately, by establishing a definitive end to your time deep focus, you can switch gears immediately.
Remember: There’s nothing wrong with hustling while you wait, just don’t lose sight of what you’re waiting for. Are you fully immersing yourself without coming up for air?
REMEMBER: The strong wait, but the smart hustle while they’re waiting.
I challenge you to execute these practices as every unforgiving minute passes by.
And you can leave the whistling to Sneezy.
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor
Never the same speech twice.
Always about approachability.
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