What is Your Side Hustle?

Last week I had the privilege of being part of a team delivering a leadership development experience in Nairobi. As part of the program, we visited many local non profit organisations and met with Kenyan entrepreneurs. In one of the earlier conversations, a local leader mentioned her “side hustle.”

My last visit to Kenya was in 2010, and this term never came up during that trip. In fact, I had never heard the term at all before last week, but it quickly became familiar: As the week went on, I noticed that people brought up their side hustles in nearly every conversation I was part of. People were as likely to talk about their side hustle as they were their primary jobs, their families, or their education.

Kenya has quite an established gig economy and much of the population works in relatively short-term, simultaneous parallel contracts. Many others are looking for a second income stream to support a better lifestyle. According to a recent study, more than 40% of the Kenyan youth have a hustle, the second highest in Africa after Nigeria. However, what I learned from my conversations is that frequently side hustles are more than just a second source of income. I met people with side hustles as diverse as mobile phone repair, graphic design, hiring out tents for weddings and corporate events, selling crafts at a Maasai Market, and farming. Some people even mentioned their master’s degree or volunteering activity. Immediate income wasn’t necessarily a prerequisite – but passion seemed to be.

People’s eyes would light up when they talked about their side hustles. These were projects that people chose to spend time on. They were passion projects they made time for on the side, which often gave them energy as well as income. I heard about the number of acres a senior manager was farming and how she was distributing her produce. I learned about the techniques used to weave baskets being sold at the market. I heard about the number of hours a volunteer worked with the Kenyan Red Cross, and the number of phones repaired in a standard week. I heard all of these stories and left inspired.

I think we all need a side hustle.

What is yours?

 

 

 

(If you want to learn more about Kenyan side hustles, check out this list of side hustle ideas, or these inspiring women who have established successful hustles based on their hobbies and interests.)

Running in a Headwind

For the past couple of days, we’ve had really strong winds in Southern England. As a runner, I have noticed.

As a population, we spend so much time in the protection of our offices, homes or cars, we aren’t always aware of the changes in weather. But in the past few days, we’ve had gusts strong enough to rattle the car when you’re driving on an exposed part of the motorway. Winds this strong are hard to miss, so you can imagine that running in them isn’t easy.

On the first day of this weather, I came back from a run exhausted and discouraged. I had gone out to run a 5K and had come back missing the mark by almost half a kilometer. I was so hard on myself. I gave myself no credit for the fact that the weather wasn’t cooperative. Instead, I assumed I was just more tired than normal or that I needed to be more fit.

Later that day, I was at a client meeting and a strong gust picked up an outdoor table and blew it over. I only then acknowledged that my difficult run wasn’t entirely my fault.

As leaders, we sometimes work on projects where we feel like we’re running in a headwind. Things just aren’t going smoothly, we are not on schedule, and people aren’t delivering. Our energy lags, and we get discouraged and down. It’s easy to project this onto everything else and decide we don’t like our jobs, we aren’t happy in our work, or we aren’t successful. Or we blame ourselves for not having the skills or the smarts for the job. In actual fact, a change of project or environment can bring us renewed energy and allow us to perform at our best.

What headwinds are you running in? How can you find ways to turn around?