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The rest is just as important as the work

The Lie of Hustle Culture

By Skye Sherman

If you’ve ever even considered being your own boss, you’re all too familiar with what seems to be the entrepreneur’s mantra: Rise and grind. No days off. The only limit is you.

The grind, the hustle, putting in the work—there’s a lot of ways to imply that the more you give up to achieve your dreams (and pretend to enjoy it), the more success is owed to you. This is hustle culture, a disease of the modern workforce that demands all your waking hours and then some, a lifestyle of ambition that requires enormous sacrifice and endless hours logged.

Hustle culture implies that if you’re getting enough sleep, you’re not working hard enough.

Hustle culture suggests that the more you suffer for your career, the more you’re entitled to. 

Hustle culture says that everything you give up will be worth it in the long run.

Hustle culture conflates “busy” with “important,” a superficial stand-in for true purpose.

Hustle culture thrives on overwork, burnout, and nonstop toil.

Hustle culture sucks you in and offers no way out—it’s never satisfied.

Hustle culture grants no hobbies.

Hustle culture is obsessed with the chase.

Hustle culture respects no boundaries.

Hustle culture makes promises it can’t keep.

Hustle culture demands more from us than we can afford to give.

In an article titled Why Are Young People Pretending to Love Work?, The New York Times argues, “The technology industry started this culture of work zeal sometime around the turn of the millennium, when the likes of Google started to feed, massage and even play doctor to its employees. The perks were meant to help companies attract the best talent—and keep employees at their desks longer.”

Its promises are shiny but artificial; hustle culture is a painful drain on our lives, health, and relationships. As Psychology Today puts it, “If you’re a hustle culture member, studies show that you’re cutting your career short, slowly destroying your mental and physical health, and harming your relationships. And you may even die at an earlier age than your cohorts.” 

Big-tech hotspots have glamorized hustle culture to the detriment of our spirits and our health. The self-starter scene has been ruled by a lie for too long, and at 1909, we’ve drawn a line in the sand. 

Here at 1909, we believe there’s another way. We defy the societal norms declaring we are our jobs, the notion that self-service and materialism will lead someday to happiness. We recognize and embrace the various forms of wealth, including health, relationships, time, and values. We believe in the power of community and connection to propel the world, and our lives, forward. Because success without the ones you love sounds pretty lonely and unfulfilling.

Rather than slaving away at a screen until your eyes cross, we encourage breaks for conversation, petting dogs, mental health check-ins, a nourishing meal, a chapter of a good book, a nap in a hammock. We promote balance; we seek to thrive. We believe that together—buoyed by each other’s strengths and gifts—we can go further.

At 1909, we do work-life balance West Palm Beach style: members meeting for a morning run to the beach followed by a quick shower in the space before launching into their day is not an uncommon occurrence. If you’re going to break for lunch and a chat, why not walk two blocks to the Intercoastal to do so? We’ve got cold brew on tap, sure, but also kombucha (or beer). And forget not seeing the sun for hours—or months—at a time. This is the Sunshine State and we take full advantage.

Don’t confuse the hustle with hard work. That’s another lie of hustle culture: that pouring your all (and then some) into a project is the only credible proof that you mean it, and that working hard means ending every day exhausted. Not so fast. You can work hard in pursuit of a goal—the hardest you’ve ever worked at anything, no doubt—without emerging on the other end as a shell of yourself.

At 1909, we applaud hard work and big visions; drive and dedication are two essential ingredients of success and you won’t taste victory without them. But grinding away at the expense of your health, happiness, and relationships? Not here. Not now. That’s too high a cost.

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1909 Accelerator: Get to Know the Founders & Their Game Changing Ideas

The cohort is made up of 20 incredible founders from 15 local businesses and is majority minority. The cohort is diverse in people, ideas and industries, with startups ranging from community gardens to real estate applications, maternity athletic wear, hardware devices for those who are speech- and hearing-impaired, and ocean-powered technology—to name just a few.

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