Sunday, May 26, 2013

Hustling Knowledge

For a long time, I presumed that "hustling" was something that was associated with drug dealers, pimps, pyramid scheme advocates, and others who indulged in activities of questionable legality. But upon researching the concept further, I have come to the conclusion that hustling is about dealing in things that were obtained in questionable manners. One definition from Merriam-Webster defines hustle as, "to sell something to or obtain something from by energetic and especially underhanded activity."

That's when I realized that I'm a knowledge hustler. I obtain and share some knowledge through "underhanded activities."

No, I'm not talking about being involved in narcotics trade, prostitution ring, or Wall Street insider trading. I'm referring to my passion for making connections, forging relationships, and creating communities where knowledge is gladly exchanged. I reach out to these connects by exposing them to my personal brand, displaying a passion for learning, finding success through deliberate work and innovation, and not giving a damn about people who want to "put me in my place." I make meaningful connections and build flourishing relationships in my professional career not on the basis of my job title, but through my enthusiasm for learning, my action-focused disposition, and desire to build relationships. People in my network care more about what I can share and learn, instead of where I am on the org chart. Mind of a Hustler website defines a hustler as "someone who is or has been hungry." And I am damn hungry for learning, experiencing, and sharing knowledge.

I hustle knowledge by rejecting the outdated notion that learning is something that is only done during a day job, or while taking classes. While some people invest in real estate, fancy cars, or expensive pastimes, I invest in my lifelong learning and seek opportunities to expand my knowledge--even if some of these activities come with high price tags. I take several learning vacations each year (for those who are shocked at reading this, I have a friend who has been attending annual gatherings for theater teachers on her own time and dime--for twenty years!). The experience and newfound connections are worth the price of admission. These "studycations" help me learn skills to work at a very high level.

I hustle my value proposition by discovering, creating, and nurturing my communities. I learn about the interests of my connects and introduce them to other folks in my tribes, or hook them up with resources that I come across. These resources include innovative books or articles which appeal to my connects, and people or organization whom my connects share a common bond with. I hustle through my writing, social media activities, and real-life interactions.

Hustling is the key to learning and sharing. I wasted many years trying to be obedient and asking for permission from others about my learning opportunities. That was a stupid move--no one else in the world is ever going to advocate for your lifelong learning goals, and it's up to you to make things happen. Your employer can't buy you books or pay for you to attend workshops that is going to help with your learning goals? Obtain books through other means, and invest in learning vacations. Is your workplace too busy to offer mentorships? Research the people in your communities and initiate regular meetings with people with whom you can learn from and share knowledge with. Pretty soon, others will recognize you as a Subject Matter Expert, and fellow hustlers will seek you out ("game recognize game").

Want to pursue hustling as a lifelong goal? Life Without Pants site (written by Matt Cheuvront) is a great resource to dig into. Lifehacker site has some articles (including "Don't Wait--Hustle When You Want to Learn New Things") that are useful. These are all great resources for hustling knowledge on your own terms--and not waiting for permission to learn.

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