After 3 years of working in my own startups, I decided to change career paths and make the transition into joining a company as an employee. My startups were not successful, and my financial situation was changing now that I have a baby on the way. Writing this article takes a bit of swallowing my own pride, and navigating temptations to defend myself, my decisions, and my successes and failures. The fact that I have to repeat this to myself and to you that this is not an article about pride and ego goes to the heart of the point that it is ok to fail. It is ok to take chances, to reach for opportunities and not make it, and most importantly it is ok to speak honestly about it to those who matter to you in your life.
It turns out that this is my first experience in joining a company bigger than 3 people. There was and is a large learning curve. I have never experienced having so many meetings. I have never experienced having to navigate the maze of documentation that gets built up over the years the company has been running. I have never experienced the difficulties of communication that comes with working with more than 3 people at a time. It rings similar to the stories I’ve heard about bureaucracy. I feared becoming a slave to it.
Strangely… I love it. I’m surprised at myself at how much I love my job right now. I’m almost waiting for the dream to end, because there’s no way this is reality – I’m supposed to be an entrepreneur! I spit in the face of bureaucracy (rebel till the day I die). And yet it is true. The comforts of corporate life are real. When the work day is done, I can turn the switch off in my brain and not think about work. I am surrounded by a whole bunch of smart, kind people who I can easily confide in when I’m having trouble with something. Finally, having a solid salary is a huge load off my mind. Not having that continuous existential threat is enormous.
The comfort is real. And I can feel it eating away at my hustle.
My hustle and grit is what got me here. I am very proud of that fact, and I fear losing it, for several reasons. One, it will take away my competitive edge. Two, I don’t want to just stroll through my workday, and through life. Over the past few years I have equated that yearning for something bigger with my life’s meaning. If I lose that, what will happen?
Comfort and hustle – they are not the opposites of each other. They do compete at times, however there is no reason they cannot coexist. You can have both. Perhaps it just takes some friendly reminding at times, and a certain kind of extra effort.
I currently fear taking point in a project that requires me speaking to a large client of ours, in Japanese no less. After reflection, I realize that it is exactly this fear that I need to be seeking out. It is this fear which I can manipulate into my own form of hustle. Gladly, my company gives me the freedom to come up with and explore new project ideas. I am free to flex my entrepreneurial muscles. Is that luck? To an extent yes, but I would argue to an extent, no. No one controls your thoughts or your will. If you see an opportunity for change, you are the only one stopping yourself.
So… is comfort better or is hustle better? Yes. Reframe the question. You can have both – given some conscious effort. In any case, it’s up to you.