To hustle or bustle?

To hustle or to bustle? That is the question.

I am sure you’ve seen one of those movies or TV shows about people who hustle their way into some sort of ‘big deal’, such as money, gold, cars……basically something fabulous and/or valuable. A couple of the big ones like Ocean’s 11 and The Hustle are great examples. They all glamorise the hustle and make it seem sexy and exciting. Who doesn’t like the way the crew gets away with the prize!!

hustle movie poster

Have you ever wondered where the word “hustle” comes from and what it means?

We sometimes use the word when we talk about getting our teams moving. ‘Get your hustle on’.

We talk about it in sales. ‘Get out there and hustle’.

We talk about it in relation to general activity. ‘Always hustling throughout my day’.

But what does it actually mean “to hustle”?

hustle quote

As a noun, hustle means a state of great activity.

As a verb, it means to push roughly or jostle.

Hustle comes from the Dutch word “hutselen”, which means to toss or shake up.

There’s something vigorous and a little violent about the word hustle.

There’s an element to it that is active and potentially aggressive.

Let’s park that conversation for a minute, let’s move on to the word Bustle.


“Bustle” is an older term that is still often used in conjunction with hustle. We talk about the “hustle and bustle” of a city or the activity around us. Yet, I wonder how many of us truly understand what the second part of that term, the bustle, means.


Bustle comes from the old Nordic word “busk”, which means to prepare and make ready.


As a verb, “bustle” means to move in an energetic and busy manner. As a noun, refers to excited activity and movement.


You can see how these two words – hustle and bustle – fit together. They have a lot in common. What I’m interested in, though, is where the difference lies and whether that difference is useful. And I wonder which one serves us better, to hustle or bustle, in how we lead our teams and do our work on a day-to-day basis.


There is a quote that says, “Good things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.” This is an interesting take, and I think it can be useful and powerful in the context of recognising that we need to be active and work towards creating change and achieving the outcomes we desire.


In the saying, “Good things come to those who wait,” I believe there is an implication that those who are waiting have already done the work.


There has been a deliberateness to their actions. They have hustled, they have planned, and then they have bustled. Now, they patiently await their plans to blossom and bloom. They look forward to their actions yielding fruit.


What does this mean for us as leaders, how do we play lightly with hustle and bustle in the work we do?


How do we get ourselves and others moving to accomplish more within our teams, organisations and businesses, without the verb of hustle appearing and we become too rough in our approach?


Remember, the definition of hustle is to push roughly, to jostle into a state of great activity. We need to own this activity while being clear on your vision and purpose.


Ask yourself: What is my purpose, that drive that jostles me into action? What am I doing to move the dial today? Does the activity, the hustle align with my purpose? Further, it’s important to ensure your team’s purpose aligns with yours. How are you communicating your purpose to your team? How are you motivating them? Are you working with their internal hustle, so it is aligned and useful?

Put simply, we need drive and we need purposeful action. We need to hustle with purpose.


Nothing will happen unless you do something to make it happen, be that with your business, health, family or relationships. You need to act and push hard if it’s important to you.


We often find that the things we love and want the most are the things we’re most willing to push for. In other words, we are prepared to bustle.


Outwardly, do you demonstrate the bustle? Are you energetic? What excited activity and movement are you engaging in so you can reach your purpose? Are you ensuring your team’s bustle is focused and useful?


If you’re content with mediocrity, then neither of these words will matter much to you.

But if you want today to be a little bit better than yesterday, hustle and bustle do matter.


To be successful, we need the hustle – the purpose, the reason, the vision that pushes and jostles us into action. We also need the bustle – the excited activity that gets us to our destination. There is a subtle difference between the two, yet they complement each other.


So, if you want to be more than you were yesterday, the activities of hustle and bustle are essential – for you, your team and your business.


Now get out there and hustle and bustle. Do the work that’s needed!

Be kind, be well, be true, be you.

Andrew Deering
Organisational Capability Expert
Coach | Facilitator | Author of Creating the SHIFT

0459 806 046

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