I’ve hustled to survive and I’ve hustled to win. I can tell you that hustling to win beats the crap out of hustling to survive. If you’re in business, then you’ve most likely experienced both scenarios at one time or another.

When you’re hustling to win, you’re firing on all cylinders, have tons of energy and are living off a positive adrenaline rush. Hustling to win is like the last few weeks of training for a marathon: you’re at your peak physical fitness, you have a big goal ahead of you and you’re ready to run that race. You don’t fear the pain that the race promises because you’re ready physically, mentally and even spiritually. You’ve done the hard work and put in your hours of training. You have the right gear and you know you can do it. You’re going to win, maybe not the race, but just by finishing that race you will consider yourself a winner. The excitement of getting out there is what matters now; it fuels you. That is what hustling to win looks like.

Hustling to survive is much different. Hustling to survive is like living on the streets, not knowing where your next meal is going to come from. It’s about getting through the day, staying alive and, perhaps, living paycheck to paycheck. When you hustle to survive, you’re running on fear and anxiety. You often feel you’re trying to control the uncontrollable. Hustling to survive is what happens when you’re at the end of your rope but there is still a little gas left in your tank. You still have hope, and a part of you still believes you can survive. While it’s tough for you to see a light at the end of the tunnel, you struggle on and refuse to give up.

So let’s put this all into perspective.

There are times when you will be doing great, making money, having that great team of employees and having more business than you know what to do with. Then there will be times when you lose jobs or your best employee quits. You may even experience times when you question whether you can make payroll, let alone pay yourself.

Guess what? It doesn’t matter.

Either way, you must keep hustling. And that’s whether you are high or low, winning or losing. The worst thing you can do in business, and I mean the absolute worst thing, is to become complacent and rest on your laurels. Complacency kills business. If you don’t believe me, just ask Kodak. They got complacent and decided not to worry about those digital cameras. Seen a Kodak camera lately?

Over the past several years, I’ve hustled to survive and hustled to win. It’s super hard to keep hustling when you’re just trying to survive. Your only option is to find reasons to keep going at it hard core and embrace the battle. Hustling to win, on the other hand, is epic. You experience a powerful rush when you work hard and play the game at your highest level.

Keep hustling whether you’re winning, in survival mode or somewhere in between.