This past summer my wife and I were driving through Montana to backpack Glacier National Park. We stopped for breakfast at a small diner in a town that had less than 500 people in it.

We were the only ones in the diner, so we started talking to the woman behind the counter, and quickly figured out she was the owner, cook, cleaner, server – basically the only person who ever works in the diner.

She started telling us about how she operates the diner from 5 AM – 2 PM, and from there goes straight to her animal shelter job, and then works late at night for her cherry packaging business.  My first thought: “How is it that this 60 year old woman has more energy and is outworking me by a huge margin? What is wrong with me!?”

However, the more we talked she began to share about the economic difficulties in their town and the fact that she could barely afford the monthly payments on the diner.

The conversation was very open and transparent so I felt like it was appropriate to ask her: “Why keep the diner open?”

Her response: “Excuse me?”

My wife looked at me like, “Why are you challenging super woman here?”

At this point I had to explain myself – “The animal shelter is government funded and provides a stable income for you, and your cherry packaging business has a lot of upside. Seems like the diner is holding you back…”

Her response: “But I work really hard here at the diner, and it does ok.” She paused, and thought to herself: “Interesting idea, it would give me more time to work on the cherry business, but I just can’t imagine not getting up at 5 AM to work at the diner!”

The point of the story is not to bash the diner owner – she is an incredible person and I respect her way of life and work ethic – it is to point out a simple truth: Hustle, on its own, does not amount to anything.

Let me express this mathematically.

(product) x (hustle) = output

Product, on a scale of 0-5, represents the potential of the business or the value of the product. (0 being a terrible product with no potential, 5 being an amazing product with limitless potential).

Hustle represents the amount of work you put in.

The diner is an example of this:

0 x hustle = output

No matter how hard she works, it will not produce anything valuable.

Many people fall into the trap of “hustling” when they have nothing worth hustling for.

A different trap people fall into is the “side hustle fallacy.”

This looks like this:

Business 1:
2 x 20 = 40

Business 2:
5 x 20 =100

Business 3:
3 x 20 = 60

Total output = 200


Here’s a better way:

Business 1:
2 x 0 = 0

Business 2:
4 x 60 = 300

Business 3:
3 x 0 = 0

Total output = 300

Many people get involved with multiple side “hustles” when they in fact should focus their sole attention on the one thing that has the greatest upside.

Take this with a grain of salt – it may not apply to your life or situation. My goal is just to get you to consider a different way of thinking than the “hustle, hustle, hustle” buzz everyone is talking about.

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