Do you really need to "work hard/hustle"? My grandma's story

A few months ago, I took my grandparents out to lunch and asked to hear more details about my grandmother’s entrepreneurial journey. It’s a known fact that my grandma started and ran her own seamstressing school in Hong Kong before they immigrated over to the States, but it’s not really talked about in detail. Everyone just says that she worked really hard and often couldn’t eat dinner until midnight or sleep until 1 or 2 in the morning, only to wake up at 6am to do it all over again.

Working hard has its merits, but does it mean I have to struggle?

Now the reason why I wanted to hear her story from her side of it is because I worked my ass off all the way through grad school, but when I got my first full-time job, I hated everything about my life except for the paychecks. Even though it seemed like that was what “adulting” was (all my friends were in the same position), I stubbornly wanted to find another way to live.

And not because I’m too “lazy” to work my butt off. (I actually don’t like the word “lazy” and like to replace it with “unmotivated.” I just really want to enjoy my life in everything that I do. I don’t want to spend my life struggling and being unhappy, or showing other people how hard I’m struggling in the hopes of getting rewarded somewhere down the line.

Most likely like you, since I was young, my family took every opportunity to drill into my head that the only way to success is to put your head down and work really hard. If people at school are mean, you put your head down and study even harder. If the boss wants to you work 8 hours, you work 10 to show that you have “what it takes.” And on the rare occasion that my family talked about my grandma’s entrepreneurial journey, this was also the main lesson of the story. “She was successful, but she worked hard and never ate dinner before midnight!”

Flow to success?? Yes, please!

When I started learning about personal development, spirituality, and co-creation, I was completely hooked. I loved the idea that I could flow my way to success. But I didn’t quite believe it yet, so I wanted to hear more evidence. I wanted to hear how much of my grandma’s story about running a successful seamstressing school came out of true hard work and how much of it came out of “serendipity” and co-creation.

Today’s blog post is an exploration of this shift in perspective.

Grandma’s story

While I sat in the booth at a cafe in Oakland Chinatown with my two grandparents, my grandma shared her story. In her early 20’s, my grandma was actually doing clerical work, but she was sending almost all of her money home to her parents to help pay for their living and she was also paying for her younger brother’s college tuition. Because she didn’t have any money left over for herself to buy store-bought clothes, she designed and made her own clothing instead.

After she married my grandpa in her late 20’s, they moved to Hong Kong and my grandma was out of a job. It just so happened that Singer, the world-renowned company that makes sewing machines, was hiring, so my grandma thought, “Well, why not? I can sew,” and applied. She got the job, and within a fews short months, she was getting promotion after promotion. Her work spoke for herself.

Soon enough, Singer asked her to train new employees coming in. Eventually, even the existing seamstresses learned about Grandma and heard about her amazing classes and wanted to join in as well.

So grandma started inviting a few people up to her home for classes, and then eventually she started charging a few dollars per class so she could buy more sewing machines and teach even more students.

Same story, different perspectives

To my grandpa, this is a story of hard work, dedication, and hustle. He knew his wife was going to work full-time everyday and then coming home to teach her own classes into the wee hours of the night. But to me, this is as much a story of flow as it is a story of hard work, dedication, and purpose.

I found it interesting that, I’m guessing, due to cultural differences, it was really hard to get Grandma to finally describe how she felt during all of it. She also kept saying that she had to put in a lot of hard work just to put food on the table (although this wasn’t really true - they were doing fine financially). It was strangely hard for her to admit that she actually really enjoyed what she was doing.

And that made me think about how hard it was for me (still is) to shed this story that you have to grind and hustle really hard in order to be successful. “There are no free lunches” is a saying my mom used to say a lot. Up until a year ago, I believed that my success centered on how hard I could work or push myself.

Living a life of flow was not second nature for me

But then I decided that I no longer wanted to live that way. I wanted to enjoy my life. I wanted to believe that I could do what I truly enjoyed doing while making a living doing it. I wanted to show my future kids and even some friends that this was possible.

And to be really honest, financially, my life doesn’t look “good.” I don’t have much savings, I’m in credit card debt, and my credit score could use some help.

But still, I wouldn’t trade my life for anything. I wouldn’t trade it for a secure paycheck for the rest of my life doing something I didn’t truly enjoy. I decided that my life was going to be about enjoying every drop of it as much as I could and about living an easy life.

Today, I get to work with the most incredible clients and I get to watch them transform into hugely impactful, powerful, confident business people, mothers, fathers, sisters, friends, brothers, aunts, etc. I get to travel all over the world, live in a bunch of different places, and still work wherever I go.

I wouldn’t trade any of this for the world. And I know that the financial success is on its way - it’s about believing it before seeing it. And one of the things I do to help myself continue believing in this new story - that I can flow my way to financial success - is to continue gathering stories and evidence that it is absolutely, completely, and totally true.

Depends what you believe

According to my family, hard work is absolutely necessary for success. My grandpa’s view is that grandma worked very hard, was an excellent seamstress, and had a penchant for teaching others my craft.

In my grandma’s view though, you can see where she believed this to also be the case, so it was hard for to admit that most of her success in turning a hobby into a successful business that supported her family also came from flow. And according to me, I’d like to live a life of true flow. Within this same story was a whole underlying current of manifestation that I had somehow missed before. (Lol, this is where I hear my mother’s voice saying, “Of course you didn’t hear it! Grandpa always talked over grandma.” True.)

So do you really need to work hard?

That’s up to you. What kind of life do you want to live? What do you want to believe? How is what you’re believing right now working out for you so far?

Let me know in the comments below!

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