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Keep Hustling : The Stockdale Paradox from movie Hustle & Flow



Courtesy - Paramount Classics

Look this is my life, and it's a battle within
I gotta survive, even if I'm sinnin to win
And if I show no remorse I reap the devil's reward
He said he'd, give me riches but I'm lookin for more
When I was young, witnessed my dad, standin for right
Black pride in him even though he passin for white
Took years from my life, now I'm missin the man
Moms on some other shit and now I'm missin the plan
And so I'm... stuck in this fuck-a-marole
All the lessons to a young teen baby was cold
Then my pimpin-ass Uncle put me up on the game
It really ain't no love it's 'bout this, paper mayne
Put me in a position, got me out on a mission
Collectin from the hoes turned on to my pimpin
A nigga from Memphis dealin with life as a struggle
This is the gift I was given so I just live by my hustle.....
                                                    Djay - Hustle And Flow (It Ain't Ovah)


We all have our favorite collection of unusual films which we fall in love with. Probably, 8 out of 10 of your friends do not know about them, and the ones who know have been forcefully told & made to watch by you.

One of mine is a movie called - Hustle & Flow. It stars the amazing Terrence Howard as Djay who stars as a Memphis hustler and pimp who faces his aspiration to become a rapper. He hustles to get out a record in the adversity of being a pimp in the dirty streets of Detroit. In the movie Djay - the small-time hustler is dissatisfied with his unglamorous life and learns to express himself. The product is a bunch of Hip-Hop songs.
As the movie ends he ends up in jail, but his friends send his songs to local bars & discos and he becomes a sleeper hit overnight.

I keep on visiting this movie and lately when I saw it after turning full time Entrepreneur it spoke in a different language to me.

The pimp DJay was really miserable with his life as a daytime pimp. He wanted more from life and make some hip-hop music. He did not have anyone except few people who had no clue what he was doing, but believed in him. He also did not have anyone to collaborate or simply put people did not consider him even worthy. After all he was just a small time pimp. He did not have resources, facilities, opportunities or any good luck in his life.
Also, folks around him knew that he could never escape the low life, which they were succumbing to, especially the whore he was pimping for. It was assumed he was best at this and could never be good at something else, let alone music - the pursuit of the worthy.

But, DJay did not loose hope. He not only accepted the brutal realities of life but also did what he had to. He not only lifted the spirits of his close folks, but they too started to collaborate with him. Feel the flow & hustle. For the first time they felt alive, while making some kick-ass hip-hop music.

This reminded me of the Stockdale paradox as stated by Jim Collins in his great book "Good to Great". 
Stockdale -  an admiral , who was a United States military officer held captive for eight years during the Vietnam War told Collins, he never lost faith during his ordeal: “I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.”

Stockdale like our DJay approached adversity with a very different mindset. He accepted the reality of his situation. He knew he was in hell, but, rather than bury his head in the sand, he stepped up and did everything he could to lift the morale and prolong the lives of his fellow prisoners. He created a tapping code so they could communicate with each other. DJay choose music.

It's was really really hard out there for a pimp like DJay, but he kept on hustling & flowing. He made music which he loved the most.
A lesson of every first time Entrepreneurs like me - for them its really really hard out there. But we as product visionaries, with a passion to solve important & big problems need to keep on hustling to make the music which makes the small world a better place.

In the words of the pimp DJay

"You know what they say, everybody gotta have a dream"




Do check out the movie Hustle & Flow ? Did you find this article useful ? Leaving a comment below will let your voice reach me ? Thanks.
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