am I pushing hard enough?

Jay Clouse inspiration, motivation, productivity

Every now and then, I run into someone who just floors me with their hustle and intensity. Personally, I’ve stopped hoisting the flag of “HUSTLE! GRIND!” because I think it is too often associated with dangerous, irresponsible, and counterproductive lifestyle habits.

Clearly, I embrace, advocate for, and believe in hard work. I believe in working hard with intention over the hustle and grind.

But sometimes I meet people who are masterfully executing both. They seem to always be on, never missing an opportunity to manufacture progress and momentum.

I’m talking about someone who always has a business card. Always has an ask. Always captures the moment and shares it on social media. Is always starting a new collaboration. Someone who has a virtual assistant to manage their team of virtual assistants.

This is a sort of Ballmer Peak of intensity that I’ve been pursuing for years. I wrote about it back in May of 2014.

It’s hard to quantify working one’s ass off. And I don’t mean that to be funny, but I can’t grasp where that threshold is of working hard vs. working your ass off.

In high school, I was a (poor) sprinter — 100, 200, and 400 meter dash. The problem was, in those short distances and with high school recording equipment, my times were fairly inconsistent. And it was almost always slower than I’d hoped for. I would always say to myself, “Wait, why didn’t I just run faster?”

Like sprinting, it’s hard to tell when I’ve truly maxed out on a task or project. Even though in the heat of the moment I feel like I’m doing all that I can, it’s all too easy to look back and think, “I could’ve done more.”

What if I made a bold ask at the end of that meeting? What if I took more meetings without an agenda? What if I relentlessly took meetings with everyone I could in the world of marketing?

What if I said yes to more projects? What if I spent 10% more time on any given project?

It’s a question I could go crazy thinking about. You never know what one activating event could change the course of your life. What if that event was adjacent to something I was already doing?

It’s a dangerous rabbit hole to go down.

In general, I think it’s a given that I can be pushing harder. And so for now, I think it’s worth keeping that in the back of my mind.

In every situation, I can take an extra moment to evaluate if there’s another level I can reach for and if the marginal return is worth it. But there is also something to be said about cutting myself some slack. 

Work hard, be intentional, take some risks, and trust the process. That’s the mantra.


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