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Why You Should Embrace the Hustle

One of the dictionary definitions of hustle is “to play a game or sport in an alert aggressive manner.” It comes from the Dutch word husselen, which means to shake. And it’s true, that when somebody plays in an alert, aggressive manner, they usually shake things up.

“Some people like to say that a player isn’t very talented, but he hustles,” legendary Boston Celtics player Bill Russell said. “I disagree with that statement because the ability to hustle is a talent.”

Coach John Wooden defined success this way: “Success is peace of mind attained only through self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do the best of which you’re capable.”

Your level of hustle is quite simply your level of effort. When you hustle and give your total effort, you are a success!

Sometimes people describe a person who hustles by saying he gives 110%. In his book A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court with Steve Jamison, Coach Wooden expressed a different view:

110% is not the goal. The players were charged with trying to improve a little each day, trying to get closer to becoming their best.

I tried to be honest with them in letting them know they wouldn’t reach perfection. But I was also honest in saying that I expected them to give everything they had in trying to reach perfection.

That’s what we worked toward. Let’s see how close we can get. We won’t reach 120%, or 110%, but how close to 100% of our potential can we get?

That was my challenge to them: How close can we get to perfect? When individuals are sincerely motivated to take up that challenge, the results are astonishing. 

Related: 20 Ways to Do Your Best and Be Successful

Photo by Juliano Ferreira from Pexels

Craig Impelman
As Coach Wooden’s grandson-in-law, Craig Impelman had the opportunity to learn Coach’s teachings firsthand and wrote about those lessons for his site, He is a motivational speaker and the author of Wooden’s Wisdom, a weekly “e-coaching module” that is distributed to companies nationally.