When I was a little kid, my dad was my hero. He used to work tirelessly. And when he came home late at night, I barely had a chance to see him. But he was still my hero. Thinking back to those days gives me an instant dose of nostalgia. But it’s also helped me develop an important lesson in life. Because, although my dad worked hard and had his own business, it crashed and burned and he eventually gave up.
At one point, he had a substantial jewelry manufacturing business in the heart of New York City’s diamond district, where he employed somewhere in the range of 30 or 40 people and was producing a significant quantity of product. He was a craftsman by trade. It’s what he reveled in. What he took solace in. Fashioning unique designs was something that came second nature to him. And he knew how to produce and get those things to market.
But where my dad failed was likely in one particular area. It wasn’t when his business failed repeatedly. It was because he allowed bad habits to get the best of him. He didn’t know how to change. All he knew how to do was to work hard and “hustle.” Well, it’s not just about hustle in this life. That’s the glorified version. I know plenty of people who hustle hard and don’t make very much money.
For a period of my dad’s life, he was raking it in. We lived a good life and went on fancy vacations and had nice cars. We weren’t wealthy, per say. But we were pretty well off. However, what my father didn’t know quite how to do was to navigate the murky waters of relationships and scaling a business. He wanted to do it all himself. When his business collapsed multiple times around him, he tried to reinvent himself.
At one point, he moved to the Dominican Republic and started working with another company there. He lived in a fancy hotel that was also a casino. And he allowed bad habits to consume him. Drinking and gambling just don’t go hand in hand. But that’s okay. Everyone makes big mistakes. Everyone fails. But not learning from those failures is the difficulty. The unfortunate truth is that he had given up a long time ago.
Why Hustle Is Not Enough
Want to know something crazy? To this day, my father still hasn’t even met my kids. He barely called at all. Never sent a gift. Didn’t congratulate. Just went along his merry way doing his thing. It pains me to think about that. Just knowing that he robbed himself of being a grandfather is brutal. The funny thing is that when you allow your ego to consume you, really bad things happen.
The truth is that hustle is not enough. Sometimes, you need to know when to ask for help. My dad was never able to ask for help. But to his credit, he had a rough childhood. He was the youngest of 7 siblings and was always babied. But he was also always trying to compete with his brothers. I know that feeling because I have that drive in me as well. But I know when to ask for help from the people around me.
You see, hustle is not enough. I’m not writing this to make my dad feel bad or any other person to feel bad about not accomplishing things in life. In fact, life isn’t measured by monetary achievements. But life is measured by other things. It’s about being smart. It’s about knowing when to ask for help. And it’s also about going out there and adding value to the lives of the people around you.
If you try to do everything on your own, you’ll fail. You have to outsource. Connect with others. Collaborate. Share wisdom. Mastermind. Network. All those things that my dad was never very good at. I think when you combine ego with an unwillingness to change or ask for help, that’s what you get. It’s not just failure. It’s being alone. Alone in your own world and confined to your negative thoughts and thinking.
How To Work Smart
As my kids grow, I think a lot about these things. I really do. I look into their eyes and realize that they’re the future. Even though it’s not all roses right now, nor is it easy having two small children, some years from now it’ll be different. They’ll be more cognitive. Better able to think. Smarter. Faster. Brighter. Better able to adapt. They’re the future. The truth is that each generation gets smarter because the neocortex grows and evolves.
The natural evolution of human beings is that with each successive generation, there are improvements. They’re genetic improvements. We become smarter as our brains get larger and more complex with each passing generation. I mean, think about how far we’ve come since those very early days when we used to live inside caves. Now we sit in front of boxes of light that connect to other boxes of light all around the world (yes I’m generalizing).
Yet, when I think about all that. When I think about all the technology and modernization that we have in the world, it still pains me to think that so many people are just hustling so hard without really getting anywhere. You can’t just hustle hard. You have to hustle smart. Even if you go out there and make $10,000 or $100,000 or $1,000,000, if you spend that same amount of money, you didn’t quite hustle smart. You hustled hard. Then you had nothing to show for it.
I’m not saying money is the barometer. It’s not. I’m just saying to be smart. Ask for help. Network with others. Go out there and do something good and of value for this world. Don’t just take. You know, the most successful people in the world with the most money have delivered the most value to it. That’s just how money works. It’s based on value. And if you’re not adding some value, you’re wasting your time.
How To Change Your Life
Thinking about all these things today has my mind in a whirl. It’s strange using this forum to release those thoughts into the world. And it’s crazy to think just how many people read these. Because of that, I feel like I have an obligation to relate what I’ve learned. To convey the so-called methods and strategies that I’ve uncovered along the way. The truth is that I’m not perfect. In fact, I’m far from that. I’m flawed. Heavily flawed.
But I’m also willing to improve. Willing to get better. To change. To enhance my skill set. To learn from others who’ve already blazed a path. And you can too. But you have to be willing to ask for help and to help others. Don’t allow your ego to get the best of you. If you do that, it’ll be a slow and painful death of your “self.” Of your identity. Of your purpose. And your life will fail to have meaning over time.
The things is that so many people say they want to change their lives, but no one does anything about it. They take the easy road. The path of least resistance. That’s not how you change. To change you have to experience some pain. You have to go through the proverbial wringer. You can’t just avoid it or run from it. Instead, embrace it. Beckon it. Welcome it with open arms if you’re serious about changing your life.
So many people write to me every single day without fail and tell me they want to change their lives but every time they try, they fail. Some are so unwilling to deal with that pain, that they’ve stopped trying. They’re stricken with fear. Know that feeling? Of being so immersed in your problems and caught up in the way that you are, that it’s nearly impossible to change? Well, let me tell you something. With enough fear, anyone can change. Without it, no will do what it takes.
That’s the thing about fear. It can frighten you half to death. But why does it take a big scare to change? Why does it take the doctor telling you that you won’t live another year unless you change your diet? Or, what is it about getting the news that you have a terminal illness and you’re going to die in the next few months that has such a drastic impact on our lives? Why do we need fear of impending death or doom to make a big change?
It doesn’t take that. You can change. I can change. My dad can change. Anyone can change. It doesn’t matter how old or how ingrained the thinking is. It all starts with a decision to act right now. It’s not about being afraid of failure. You can fail. Go ahead and fail often. Did you know that Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart didn’t start his company until 44 years old? Did you know that Colonel Harland Sanders, founder of KFC, was 62 when he started his company with only $105 to his name?
The Time Is Now
My friend Kent Clothier wears a bracelet around his arm that says “The Time Is Now” and I think that this is so important of a lesson to relay that I just have to talk about it. Because the time will always be now. Not tomorrow. Not yesterday. But now. Don’t wait until the day you’re given some devastating news to have to change. Change now. In this moment. Just decide and act. Don’t wait.
The thing is that if you wait to change, time will just roll right over you. And when you look back on it all, it’ll be gone for good. Imagine that this is literally your last day on earth and just go out there and do something. Do anything. Just live your life. Forget the other stuff. Forget the money problems. Forget the relationship problems. Find yourself first. Discover your passion. Discover your meaning. The money will come later. I promise you that.
So the one lesson that I want you to take away is to understand that there could be no tomorrow. Forget what others say about you and just live your life. Breathe. Walk and feel the sun on your face. Literally, go out there and smell the flowers. You don’t need some calamity or strife. Go to a beach and sink your feet into the warm sand. Get in your car and just take a road trip and forget everything else.
If you say that’s not realistic, then I’d tell you to go to the hospital and spend some time in the terminal illness ward talking to the patients. See what they say. Do you think they’re going to tell you they wish they had made more money? Do you think they’re going to say they feel bad about never buying that car or house they’ve always wanted? No, they’re going to tell you that they wish they had more time to spend it living life and being around the people that they love.
That’s what’s important. That’s what matters. That’s what counts. Not all the other stuff. Spend your time with the people you love. Don’t just hustle hard. Hustle smart. Scale your business. Network. Ask for help. Reach out to others. If you have a problem, find someone who’s solved that problem in the past and find the solution. You know, success leaves clues. You don’t have to work yourself into the ground just to get ahead. That’s not the barometer here. It never was and it never will be.