Bookish Talks, Classics

Learn from This Victorian Hustle Queen

Last week we discussed hustling (check out the article here) and how I view it as a positive thing, very different than mindless overworking. In fact, it seems to me that the way hustle culture is viewed today versus its original intent are two different things as well, even though it is completely understandable how this happened.

This week, I want to build a little upon that and talk about a positive role model, a woman I consider to be the ultimate hustler in the Victorian Era and how you are better off reading this book than “Hustle”. I’m talking about “Jane Eyre”.

Why Is Jane Eyre the True Hustler?

Jane was an orphan, living with relatives who mistreat her badly. It is because of them that she also gets the reputation of a bad child. When she has the opportunity to go to school, she takes it without second thoughts and, reflecting upon her own behaviour, she is determined to change her reputation, and build a new one in this new place. That is the first lesson from her, the first hint we have she truly is a hustler.

She actually manages to do that and, at school, is a very good learner. Her perseverance gets her a great education, compared to the possibilities of the time.

She goes on to become a school teacher herself – that is her first employment.

When she no longer finds happiness in her work, she does whatever it takes to land another job. That means actually advertising her services in a paper! She manages to double her salary by switching jobs: she gets a great position as a governess, with a respectable family.

Without going into spoilers: when even that position is compromised for her, Jane Eyre leaves with no second thoughts, again, and also with no plans and no recommendations. She goes from effectively begging on the streets to still getting another job as a teacher, reinventing herself all over again.

So…hats off! She is one of a kind!

What Can You Learn from Jane Eyre?

Risk taking, perseverance, work ethic, and more importantly, how a series of jobs/ projects help reveal who you are, help you understand yourself better, help you find meaning.

Mind you, this is not the only way to find meaning, obviously, but it is still a valid way. However, this works only as long as you always take time to reflect, get to know yourself and, also, time to just do nothing.

To learn all these things, I would recommend “Jane Eyre” any day over a book like “Hustle”, just for the sheer joy you can additionally find in the beauty of writing. In my mind, the message of the two is quite similar around work.

If you’re tired of reading self help books, but still want to get the ideas and lessons in them, I make the case to start reading classics!

How does “Jane Eyre” actually compare to “Hustle”?

I liked how “Hustle” is separated in 3 parts – heart, head and habits. It is all very clear this way. Of course, Jane Eyre has everything mixed, but her entire life is a struggle between heart and head. As for her habits, it’s all work, work, work with that girl – it doesn’t get more inspiring than that!

These three ideas and themes below are the most powerful and common to both books:

Create Your Destiny

The introduction of “Hustle” contains a quote:

“I am not what happened to me . . .
I am what I choose to become.”

— Carl Gustav Jung

I think this quote is so powerful and it is the most fitting to both books, as Jane Eyre creates her own path as well, in the most amazing way.

Pursue Your Dream

“It’s not enough to simply have a dream, you have to actively pursue it.”

― “Hustle”, by Jonas Koffler, Neil Patel and Patrick Vlaskovits

Who is better than Jane Eyre at pursuing a new life? A governess’ life in the 1800s is a terrible one, but it is better than a school teacher’s. Jane Eyre improves her life by risking the safety of a position for the possible rewards of another. Even more, she doesn’t go about it the usual route. She actually advertises her services in the paper! Do you have any idea how risky this was back then? In my opinion, she is the hustling queen – a perfect role model for what determination and education can give you!

Embrace Failure

“avoiding failure is not a goal that we can actually achieve. It’s an illusion.”

― “Hustle”, by Jonas Koffler, Neil Patel and Patrick Vlaskovits

Jane Eyre’s story is built around her trying to create a better life for herself. Multiple times she has to start over – she is not afraid of it and is willing to put in a lot of work, every single time. She goes through difficult times, including a terrible childhood. However, each time she starts over she has a new energy, a new momentum, new optimism. Her past doesn’t define her, even though it finds a way to torment her from time to time.

Jane Eyre Has More to Say

“To think is easy. To act is hard. But the hardest thing in the world is to act in accordance with your thinking.”

― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

More than “Hustle”, Jane Eyre teaches us how heart, head and action should actually bow to principles. And that is the most important lesson – thinking long term about living with the consequences of our actions – a lesson too many of us learn too late.

In “Hustle”, there is actually an example of what I would consider “bad” hustling, meaning you find a way to get ahead by bending the rules to the point it inconveniences others. I’m talking about a group of people who choose not to wait in line for a cab, but pick one on the streets, when it’s left by someone else, at a great event where taxis are scarce and lines for them are formed.

Of course, what these people do – picking the taxi out of line – is not illegal at all. However, there is a reason for why everyone forms a line. It’s so that everyone gets a cab, even those less fortunate (maybe they are elder and can’t walk or run to get one etc.). Because if everyone would hustle this way, those who can’t get a cab, those who are actually the most vulnerable among us, will be the ones to wait for a lot more time for one to become available. This is a bad way of hustling and clearly not a good example of behaviour.

It is also something a book like “Jane Eyre” would never teach. Jane Eyre is the perfect example of morality and “what would Jane Eyre do” is a good compass to guide you always in the right direction. The fact that she sticks to her principles in face of temptations is her best trait!


Jane Eyre is an inspiring role model in her life choices, as well as her career ones (of course, while keeping the perspective of the era she was living in). I loved this book and I think it’s a must-read classic if you look for motivation!

What do you think? Do you like Classics and use them for inspiration?

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