Skip to main content

The Problem with Hustle

If you listen carefully and look around a bit you’ll see a fairly persistent meme and a collection of entrepreneur’s and bloggers espousing a “hustle” lifestyle. If you haven’t bumped into these people yet, there is a collection of entrepreneurs who are hustling all the time, all day, every day. Bragging on social media about working 120+ hour weeks and starting multiple businesses. They write blogs (like this one but, umm, popular?), books, make Youtube videos, have Instagram and Snapchat followers and generally are always on.

For a long time I admired these people. To be honest, I had no idea if they were actually making money or how they were able to sustain such an intense pace. I felt for a long time that I wanted this lifestyle. I read their books, blogs and learned “Getting Things Done.” I posted photos of my travels and humble-bragged about Platinum Status on some fucking airline and fancy hotel upgrades at some other fucking hotel.

Now, for true entrepreneurs I do believe that the true hustle mentality is the best and likely only way to survive and thrive. I get it. Success is damn hard. I take nothing from those talented and dedicated people. Building a successful business is nothing to take lightly. So if that’s your bag, kudos! Go make a million billion dollars with your trillion Facebook fans and your millions of views on your insightful, or funny, or smart videos. If that’s for you, go get em! But beware the bullshit. And remember that life is short, even if it feels like it may last forever.

My awakening has jolted me in many ways. In particular, it’s helped me realize that part of my being unconscious was falling into what I now call the #hustle fantasy.

Here’s how it worked for me, your mileage may vary. It’s the anti-Hustle:

  1. You are ambitious, smart and like money. Who doesn’t like money, right?
  2. You believe that everyone (you in particular) have the talent and drive to copy whatever flavor of successful, famous business man/woman is out there and make a sack of money.
  3. You  spend your time reading and learning from them but find that when you go to apply the lessons, they either don’t work as expected. Or, you  realize you’ve been RUNNING DOWN THE WRONG FUCKING PATH.
  4. You resist because you know what, money is good. Success is good. And shit, money + success = happiness. right?
  5. You forget who you are and become this other person, working in a job you hate, or a career that is clearly wrong. Shit goes wrong. You fight, or worse, ignore your family. You don’t get rich.
  6. You hit the wall.
  7. You wake up one day and if you are lucky, realize you’ve been asleep, dream-walking through life, doing your finest job at ignoring your true self.
  8. You come to a one of likely many decision points to do something about it. Maybe you do, or maybe you don’t. But don’t lie to yourself as if what’s going on isn’t real. Your misery isn’t going on holiday and you can’t buy a Tesla to make it all feel better. Your kids are grown up and your wife, if she’s still around is a total stranger. Even worse, YOU are a stranger to YOURSELF.

What is happening to me, right now, at this moment is that I’ve decided I’m not going to take this shit anymore. I’m waking up. I’m awake. And I refuse to go back to sleep. I’m not perfect, no way, not even close. Sometimes I’m at dinner and not present with my family – but it’s a bad habit now, and not who I am anymore.

Hustling isn’t the problem

Let me be clear. There is no problem with hustle. If you find your passion, your calling and your dream, hustle is like breathing. It’s why true entrepreneurs soak up 18 hour days and come back for more. But don’t be an idiot. Hustle is also what con-artists do, they hustle you out of your money and your time. And you if this blog post resonates with you I have some good news and some bad news for you.

The bad news is that you may be hustling yourself – conning yourself. Lying to yourself that the money makes it all right. Or the travel benefits. Or the job title. Good luck with that. It’s not real. You’ve been hustled.

The good news is that you can wake the fuck up. But the first step is the hardest. You have to realize you are asleep in the first place.

So are you hustling yourself out of the beautiful life you deserve?

Thoreau quote

No One is Coming to Save Me, or You.

Being lost is for losers. Isn’t it?

I certainly thought so.

Being lost is for people who are on the couch eating cheetos. For people in the unemployment line. For anyone who is addicted to drugs. For the mediocre, mindless masses.

I never thought of myself as a loser, but I certainly am lost.

Almost a year ago I wrote “Stop Bullshitting Yourself If You Want To Wake Up (From The True Matrix)” and revealed that despite “having it all,” I was terribly lost and unhappy. Despite having a high paying job and a wonderful family, something important was missing.

My life had gone off the rails and I had no idea what to do about it.

I wrote about all the “tricks” I tried like changing jobs, eating better and getting exercise. None of it worked. All the distractions and futile attempts just added up to more misery, sadness and loneliness.

In that original post, I wrote “I think waking up requires one main ingredient that I don’t see anyone talking about… personal accountability.” In the past few months, I have come to realize how nuanced and complicated the notion of personal accountability is, and how difficult it is to describe without confusing it with issues such as commitments, projects, personal relationships and ego.

Personal accountability is one of things things that is so easy to say, it just rolls off the tongue. It’s like promising yourself you’ll only watch 1 more episode of Breaking Bad, or that this weekend you won’t drink. Then you wake up at 3am on Sunday, with an 16 empty cans of beer and hazy memories of Walter White. It happens, I know.

When I take a moment and bother to think about my own personal accountability, I think that maybe it is selfish to put myself first – and then I spin around and think that only by putting myself first can I find the right path. Whatever that horribly written sentence means. What I’m trying to say is that whether it has to do with my career and providing for my family, or sex, relationships, travel or even food, it’s all connected. Life had become rapidly becoming a game of “this or that”, a series of choices that feel increasing selfish, or the opposite – of being a martyr. I want to live a life of abundance, of saying “and” and not “or.”

Since I wrote that post, I’ve slowly started to realize that I was not going to find answers to anything from outside myself. At the same time, it was becoming clear to me that I had no idea how to fix myself. Most of the time my mind would race and I’d defer to sitting in front of the TV or reading a book. Just one more handful of chips. You know what I mean.

I started to wonder about being lost. I asked myself “Once you are lost, can you get more lost?”

It seems unlikely but for me, it seemed to be true. The harder I tried to find myself, the more lost I seemed to get. It’s a bit like being lost in the woods, thinking you’ve found the trail, then realizing you are still totally lost. Wrong trail syndrome I guess. Is that a thing? If not, I get dibs on the t-shirt and trademark.

Shortly after I wrote that post, I started to meditate on a regular basis. I started with several guided podcasts I had downloaded and committed to giving it a try. It was awkward at first. And weird. I felt so stupid sitting there by myself in the dark. After a few weeks (or was it months?) I started to notice a small voice inside my head. It was whispering to me. And when I finally decided to try to listen, I didn’t much want to hear what it was saying.

“No one is coming to save you” the whispers said.

I didn’t understand at first. Why would I be thinking I needed saving? But in talking with my coach, and after deep (and extended) introspection, I started to realized that I was desperately hoping that someone, or something would come along and save me. Despite a strong outer appearance, my inner voice had turned out to be some sort of damsel in distress. Seriously? Unreal, right?

My father got sick when I was about 10, and it’s only becoming clear now, some three decades years later how deeply that impacted me. I now realize that at some subconscious level, I have been waiting for him to come get me, hold me, tell me everything will be OK. Even writing that last sentence gives me some sort of deep seated, soul-touching feeling. And it feels real, and true. And wow, that’s messed up.

My resistance to this realization was extremely strong at first. It’s still there, I can hear it resisting even as I type this sentence. I told myself that this was total bullshit. I tried to convince myself it wasn’t true. That I am not a meek person. That I’m someone who is aggressive and focused and makes things happen. The harder I fought, the more insistent the whispers became.

But… sometimes the truth is just the truth. And that tiny voice was right. I needed to really listen this time.

The truth is out there. Actually, it’s right here dummy, in front of your face.

I can remember the exact moment I accepted it as truth. I was on a walk with my dog thinking about life and I got really angry and got very honest with myself. I lashed out (not at the dog, he’s fine) but at some grass. And I threw a rock as hard as I could into the woods. I screamed out loud. And then as I calmed down, the voice in my head became clear. And insistent. And strong. And at that moment, I finally saw the truth. No one was coming to save me. Until that very moment I had spent my entire life waiting to be saved. That was hard to accept. I am still fighting it deep down.

The answer to my question about being accountable to myself starts with realizing that the only one who can save me, is me. And getting clear on what it’s going to take as been consuming me. It’s terrifying.

I pushed myself to start to try to understand what decisions I’ve made in my life because of this need to be saved. I realized that many of those decisions have been subconsciously driven by the idea that one day, Superman (or woman) will come along and save me. It makes me feel like a child thinking about it now, like a scared little boy. The idea that I needed someone, or something to come and take away my pain was emasculating and hard to accept.

It’s a bitter, nasty pill. And even worse, I started to fully realize that this idea of being saved was running my life. It had major implications in my decision making. Even as I sit here writing this post I think that there is a part of me that still believes some outside force will take away my pain and give me what it is I seek. But it isn’t true. It was never true. It’s a fake reality, a matrix. The matrix! A virtual reality that can’t exist in the real world. It’s the reality that people who are asleep think is true. People who are awake, are not fooled by this dream, they know that being conscious, making clear decisions and being present is the only way to truly live. They know that no one is coming to save them.

I know this because for the past few months I’ve been slowly but surely waking to this truth bit by bit. I blew up my career in series of increasingly rash but right decisions. I left a high paying consulting gig and joined a small agency for half my salary. It was a disaster. From there, I joined an even smaller startup which 3 months later ran out of money. I recently landed at an amazing, stable company working from home. So far so good. But that’s not the point.

The point is, I’ve taken steps to wake up and to be accountable to myself and to the life I want. I wake up at 5:30 every morning and meditate, write, and exercise – all before 8 am. I think. I give myself space. These adjustments have given me perspective, and time to breathe. I took the long route to get to here. But now, the challenge is to relax and to live.To create more than I consume. To drink in each moment and each day.

I realize I’m still mid-journey and am not exactly ready to impart wisdom, or lessons at this point – I’m just trying to breathe, and live each day to it’s fullest. I’m facing my fears head on, and trying to be honest with myself. I’m not perfect, not even close. I fuck up. I slip back into old patterns. I get lost in thoughts. I get scared I’m doing the wrong thing.

But now, the voices are kind and encouraging. I am able to forgive myself almost immediately and move on. Being able to accept my faults and embrace my humanity is allowing me to start to become my true self. I sort of like that guy. I’m rooting for him to save himself. I think he’s on his way to a great life.

Choose My Own Adventure: Why Picking the Red Pill Is My Only Choice

When I first saw the film “The Matrix” something clicked inside me. I hadn’t been able to put my finger directly on it until somewhat recently. Now, as I’ve started this journey to wake up and be more present it feels more relevant than ever.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about why so many of us are struggling to wake up and be present in our own lives. Part (or all?) of the answer is that the Matrix is real. It functions across society in a manner that keeps us from achieving our goals and becoming our true selves. It’s a working theory anyway.

This “Matrix” conspires to fool us, and it tells us lies. It feeds us images and ideas that do not allow us to explore ourselves. It is built to drive us to buy more things, consume more stuff, and in today’s technology driven world, keep us tethered to our devices. After all, eyeballs and advertising = revenue right?

The “Matrix” tells us we aren’t creative. It told me I wasn’t good enough to be a writer, or a director, or an actor. It told me I am too fat, or too skinny. Too ugly. Not smart enough. It says stuff and I eat it all. I bought it. The “Matrix” is nefarious, tricky, and evil. The “Matrix” is us.

No one person is to blame – I can’t blame celebrities, or bad governments, or the media. I can’t blame my parents and I can’t blame my boss. All I can do is recognize what is going on and construct defenses against it. My very own tower defense game of life.

The system does everything but love us. It wants us to fail. And for many years as I said, I believed it. I accepted that I was too fat, or to skinny. I unwittingly gave up my dreams of being a writer. A creative director. A comedian. I was afraid of failing, and surprisingly, of succeeding.

“The Matrix is a system, Neo.”

The “Matrix” is our enemy. I know because I’m still inside, at least part of the time. When I’m inside, I look around and see things I don’t want to see. I see myself doing things I don’t want to be doing. I see and hear that there are others. Whispers and rumors of a rebellion.

“You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inert, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.” – Morpheus

But, I had to choose. I reached a point in my own life where I was given a choice. Choose the red or the blue pill.

Take the blue pill and go back to sleep. Accept that I am not, and never will be talented or smart. Take the blue pill and relax. Go back to sleep. Allow myself to be swept back into the current. It’s easier. The “Matrix” will reward me, life is easier when you are asleep.

If I take the red pill, I am rewarded with confusion, disorientation and it’s scary. I am finding out quickly if you have talent, or if I do not. I am finding out if I are smart, or if I am not. I took the red pill and so I’m now forced to figure it out. Opening my eyes and seeing the world as it is. It is not easy. I have resisted and been on a diet of blue pills for a very, very long time. I’ve been telling myself it’s ok. I’ve been numbed and fooled. The voice in my own head has been lying to me.

I call that obnoxious voice in my head “My Resistance.” Fucking liar.

Even as I write this post I can hear it saying “You are such a fool. You don’t even know any of this is true. You love movies and think you are some sort of thinker. You are an idiot. Better off just go back to bed, or watch a movie. You know what, you deserve a big breakfast, go for it, on me! Treat yourself. Numb yourself. Destroy yourself.”

Like Neo (errr Mr. Anderson), I am part of the system until I take action against it. But it’s nasty, like a bad computer virus. Right now, even in my own brain my subconscious is working away at me, eating against the progress I’ve made. I am fighting it. Right now.

I see you Mr. Resistance. I am learning your game, and your tricks.

When I look outside myself for answers and for validation I have only gotten back criticism. And judgement. I get back values that are not my own. I am told my writing is not good enough. Bad grammar they say. Or that my poem is not good. Poor structure. It didn’t rhyme. You can’t dance to it. Whatever. I’m told I am not good enough, smart enough or creative enough. And I believed it all.

But the thing is, none of that is true.

I refuse to believe it anymore. I don’t even care if I’m wrong.

Thoreau wrote “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.”

The games and amusements of mankind. Social media. Alcohol. Expensive toys and vacations. Living in the future, or in the past. Living under someone else’s judgements and assessments.

These are all things that are under my control and yet, I have allowed them to control me. When I think about taking control of these things and living the life I want to live, I get scared. It feels uncomfortable to think about deleting my social media accounts. Blasphemy, I might miss cute cats and what my friend is eating for lunch for fuck sake.

It is scary to sit and talk, really talk to a friend, with no pretense, no expectation of a return on my time. It’s odd to just sit and meditate in the middle of the day when I should be checking email, or jumping on a conference call.

It is scary to think about a world where I leave the comfort of a corporate career and actually do something on my own. Something that is my own, something I’m proud of. Something I can look back on and know deep down that I am talented, smart, funny, and creative.

Every single one of the reasons is “The Resistance” putting up it’s armor. Sending it’s dragons to kill me. Sentinels on loose.

My mission is to shred or ignore self-doubt and live life not in fear, but as a believer.

What’s your mission? Let me know.

The Matrix

Wake Up from the Matrix – your entire life depends on it!

Life should not feel dull. In order to live your life wide awake, you need to avoid becoming a zombie. You need to “Wake up from the Matrix.”

A note about this post: This post is the original spark for this blog. I posted it originally to Reddit (it’s been slightly altered and edited based on feedback I got). You can see the original post here. I also guest posted on High Existence where there is yet another slightly different version of the post called Stop Bullshitting Yourself If You Want To Wake Up (From The True Matrix).
Read More

Are You Sleeping Through Your Life?

Are you searching for something you can feel but not see? Does it feel like you are sleeping through your life? Do you feel lost or like you just aren’t on the right track in life? Are walking through life like a zombie?

You are not alone.

Have you ever asked yourself…

“Why am I so unhappy?”
“Who am I?”
“Why in the world am I here?

Your search has somehow led you here. There is a reason. You are in the right place. You are not alone.

Searching For Sumthin is our journey to waking up and finding our own personal truth. Our authentic self. The self that you know deep down inside is yelling, screaming and begging to get out. The authentic self who is afraid to show it’s true colors.

I am you. You are me.

Searching For Sumthin is not for everyone. Only those willing to honestly answer the questions and the truly brave will find their way to themselves. Only the truly curious can go on this journey.

In the movie the Matrix, John Anderson is given a choice to face the truth that the world around him is a not real, that he is not fully conscious.

The Matrix

Morpheus: I know exactly what you mean. Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I’m talking about? – “The Matrix”

I now believe that most people are asleep. Some will be brave enough to face the “splinter in our minds” and begin to wake up. Not all of us will succeed.

Searching For Sumthin is here to encourage you to take the leap. To try to answer those questions and to listen for the answers.

I have been asking and ignoring those questions for years. For far too long. I was running as fast as I could to build my career, my family, my finances. I was looking for validation from others, bending myself like a pretzel to fit into other people’s definitions of how I should be, where I should work, how much money I should make.

I’m still on that journey. I’m still learning. And I know that it will never end, this journey doesn’t have a finish line, there is no final destination. There is no ring to get to Mordor. No Death Star to destroy. But I’m starting to get the answers I’m looking for, more every day. And with every step I take, I discover something about myself. Something new, or something forgotten.

That’s what Searching For Sumthin is all about. It’s our journey to waking up. If you subscribe (it’s free), we can do it together. I’ll be your sidekick and you’ll be mine – we’ll be one person less alone and on the journey together.

Subscribe for info & updates

We will never, ever, never sell your information.

Like many of you, I did my research and “WOW” there is a lot of material out there on this topic. Everything from ancient philosophy to new age thinking. There are self-help gurus galore, as well as Deepak, Oprah, Tony Robbins and others who all are great in their own way. There is also a ton of advice out there from so called “experts” who barf out lists and shortcuts like “how to be happy in 5 easy steps.” Read it all, I’ll even provide links and share my thoughts on some of those materials and systems.

What’s great about Searching For Sumthing is that I’m right here with you. Maybe I’m one or two steps ahead of you, or a few steps behind, but if you are willing, we can do this together, all of us. You are not alone.

I will try my best to make you laugh, and to connect dots where you’ve never been able to connect dots before. My love of pop culture, science fiction and fantasy will thread through everything we talk about so that it remains fun and interesting.

Searching For Sumthin is where you’ll get encouragement, ideas, tips and tools you can use to kick start your journey. I’m no Bilbo Baggins and you’re no Frodo, but still, it’s sort of like that. Maybe it’s more like I’m Butch and you are Sundance. I’m not sure yet, but it’s something like that. You get the point.

I’ll be putting together free materials, worksheets and will point out the best books, movies, tools, apps and thinkers. I’ll dissect what I am learning, and share with you. And best of all, we can talk about it in the comments and via email.

At anytime, you can email me at and tell me what you’d like to see, what you’d like to talk about and what you are struggling with.