The Virtuous Hustle, Where Black Dreams go to Die
It’s 5:30 in the morning and for some reason you’re wide awake. For more than a few minutes you think, “Well, I’m awake now. I should get some art done. Maybe for an hour or so before I have to bounce out.” But as soon as that thought lands a cloud of despair comes over you. So, you roll over, pull the blankets up to your chin and close your eyes, mumbling, “it’s cold out there.”
Within a few short moments your eyes pop back open because you know there’s no more sleep to be had. The thought still lingering, “let me knock that sketch out real quick.” Yet again the cloud still dampening your mood obscuring your hope and excitement. Not realizing diagnosing the diagnosis is an effective time killer you start to wonder, “where’s this despair coming from?” As a black folk the presence of despair, anxiety and depression are frequent and unwanted guests. It is an effective part of our anthology and feeds into our hustle theme. Maybe you too have embraced the hustler’s mantra, suck it up, and keep it moving.
Suddenly, eyes wide, the answer comes upon you. “Oh snap, that despair. That’s the old me trying to protect its domain.”
So, you pop up, wipe the sleep from your eyes, scratch your booty and sit down with the intent to get to work. But now your confused. Work on what? The sketch? Your marketing? Customer follow up? You pick something and spryly say to yourself “it’s time to get my hustle on.”
Has the former scenario played out in your journey once or twice? Perhaps even more? C’mon you can tell me, we fam!
Let me turn the light on here. You see I ran a marketing agency for decades. My clientele covered the spectrum of Industries, business plays and ethnicities. And what I’ve noticed is there are very few differences between majority and black owned businesses except for two dominant themes. The first is majority businesses typically have more access to capital. Der! I’ve seen them make the same huge mistake black folk make but they can learn and recover from them. Perhaps you are currently working for said business type.
The second and equally devastating theme is the difference in the state of mind between white and black entrepreneurs. You see majority owners have an innate expectation to live in success. This both helps and hampers them. They move through the journey faster but, when things go wrong, they tend to downplay, creativity, innovation, and hustle and instead panic way too quickly. Black business owners however gain our identity in being in the struggle, the hustle. You see the difference there? Living in success and being in the struggle are vastly different come froms.
The domain many black creatives unknowingly sentence their greatness to, is the domain of the virtuous hustle.
Don’t get me wrong the hustle is essential. But it’s not the destination. And many of my black creative fam are acutely unaware of that difference that resides within them, that colors their identity and fuels their decisions. It’s hard to get out of bed if what awaits you is a struggle. It’s also hard to win a day over mental challenges if all you have again, is struggle.
Knowing that, do this instead, rise up. Look over your goals and commit to get one thing done. Just one thing. Do not over commit, setting yourself up for failure. Or, even worse don’t go pouring your life energy into the abyss of perpetual unfocused tasks.
In the space of living in success and not marrying your hustle adopt this life hack. Repeat this mantra out loud” “I choose with clarity. I move with purpose. I resign to joy.”
That is to say, choose which tasks are the most productive. Move on the ones you can likely complete today. And resign in the joy that you are a magnificent creator whose works the world desperately needs.
What we are trying do here is teach our spirit how to move through the virtuous hustle with joy and the live in the domain of success. A history of short-term successes will motivate you to do the right thing at the right time, even the ability to leap out of bed and into success.