Editor’s Note: I like the point Anjiri makes at the beginning of this essay: many of history’s most successful hustlers became successful only because they were forced to overcome a disadvantage.
Their attitude – not just their talent or intelligence – helped them make history. This should be hugely inspiring news for anyone who thinks hustlers belong in expensive business suits or came from privileged backgrounds.
It’s all about making your own luck.
“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”- Abraham Lincoln
I love this saying. Looking at the men that I admire from history, they all have one thing in common: they were hustlers. Theodore Roosevelt accomplished an insane amount of work because he lived the strenuous life, i.e. hustled. Thomas Edison patented thousands of inventions and perfected the light bulb because he spent all day hustling. Frederick Douglass was an orator, diplomat, newspaper editor and author because he hustled. And pretty much every self-made man has the same story.
The interesting thing is, a lot of these great men who succeeded through hustling weren’t born with natural talent or abilities. In fact, they were usually dealt a crummy hand from the beginning of their life. Theodore Roosevelt had a sickly disposition that weakened him as a child and plagued him the rest of his life.
He had to hustle more than others to gain and maintain his vim and vigor. Edison was smart, but there were plenty of other men out there who were smarter. He just worked harder than the naturally smart guys and then hired them to work for him. And Frederick Douglass was born a slave, lived in a time of extreme racism, and still beat the odds because he hustled.
Here’s the deal. Most of us are average. Average intelligence, average athleticism, and average looking. And most of us have had some setbacks in our life that can serve as a disadvantage. In short, we’re pretty much on the same playing field as millions and millions of people. And yet, despite our average minds and builds, most of us believe deep down that we are destined for something extraordinary, that we’re special.
But most men really aren’t. Not because they’re average – because they won’t hustle to get what they want.
A man’s reasons for not hustling run the gamut from laziness to fear of failure. I think a lot of time men think, “I want what that guy has but I just don’t have his x,y, or z.” But while we don’t have any control over the number of natural talents and gifts we were born with, we do have complete control over how much we can hustle.
You can’t control where you were born, how crappy or nice your parents were, or how homely or handsome you are. But nobody determines how hard you hustle but you. Wherever you are in life, you can hustle to get where you want to be.
My name is Anjiri Simon Nandwa. I was born in July of 1992, a second born in a family of four from a small village in Western Kenya. Most of our life we spent with our mother who was the only bread winner I knew because our father cared less. I started attending school at the age of 7. Before I completed my Primary Education, my mother died when I was 15.
That was the worst year of my life. Everything turned upside down and I felt the world had turned against me. All my dreams seemed to have been drowned. I looked back and forward and saw no hope in life.
People will say life is not a walk through the park, some will say life is not a bed of roses, still others will say life is a fairy tale. I say life is fair, but it has never been so fair. It’s just that, like a foreign language, every man has his own interpretation about it.
Every individual has his or her own definition of life. People will define life depending on the number of hurdles ahead of them; others will define life depending on the number of hurdles they have already passed; others still define it depending on the sweeter moments they have tasted. All the same, life is a riddle. Truly speaking, life does not choose us; we choose it. We are the architects of our own life irrespective of whom we are or where we come from.
My case was bad and I couldn’t even dare think of being here today. I had nothing left to value, most of my moments were occupied by hunger, coldness and loneliness. Not even a speck of hope was left for my land. But I could not succumb to any of these torments. I was the type to keep the candle burning, wind or no wind.
The last option I had as my only consolation, friend and laughter was education and the art of music. I decided to put all my efforts there, and thank God my valor paid off.
I realized that to find it or to be there calls for self-reflection and a subsequent oath of loyalty to your strengths and advantages. I did my best to concentrate on high thoughts and high ideas to achieve great things; otherwise I would become petty. I did not attach my bad luck to my past or others.
If we believe so much that our past demonizes our present, imagine mourning for the dead forever, what will the future be like? The future will know of more deaths than laughter and happiness. Thinking about the detrimental past continuously jeopardizes your present and your future.
I always reminded myself that I was born to break and make histories. Since I had a grievous past, am trying my best to make a joyous present and future. Failure and success are two states of mind that become a reality only when they are acknowledged and affirmed in our innocent hearts, and that is why a person falling from the fifth floor survives death while the one imagining the possibility of having a fatal accident dies out of fright.
This is enough to prove that nobody was born a winner; rather, everybody can be a winner. I am now a freshman at the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology, China and how I got the chance to be here today is one of those things I just thought could only happen in the world of fantasy.
Things are pretty rough right now. We’re facing some big problems that are going to take a lot of work to solve. We need men to step up and be leaders in our communities and families. We need more entrepreneurs to start small businesses and employees who bust their butts to help get our economy going again. We need men who hustle.
So many aspects of our lives have sped up, from fast-food to the internet. So much of the world is now only a few keystrokes away. We don’t need to break a sweat to see what’s happening in China. Having the world at your fingertips is wonderful- what a privilege to live in this time. But we must vigilantly guard against “expectation-creep.” Expectation-creep is our ever increasing expectation that everything in life will come to us quicker and easier than before.
That fortune and fame is only a Google search away.
While a lot of things in this world have changed, the need for the hustle has not. The requisite brow sweat may be more figurative these days, but time, focus, dedication, and determination will remain the eternal principles of success.
So, here’s a challenge I’d like to issue to all of us: Let’s hustle more. I know if we all start hustling we can make things happen- in our own lives and in the world around us. It won’t happen right away, but it will happen.
I have started making an Android application, which I intend to finish with a website at the end of the year. But because of lack of finance and the ready market, I am still facing some challenges. But am sure I will make it.