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  • Writer's pictureBill Petrie

The Lost Art of Quiet Elegance

The value of working without sharing everything.

As sung at Disneyland and World, “It’s a small world after all.” That song rings true today more than ever due to the technological advancements that allow us to connect with people instantly with little regard to location or time zone. Whether you carry an iPhone or some sort of “green bubble texting device,” the world truly is in the palm of our hands. It allows each of us to be an individual media company, sharing what we want, when we want, how we want, and to whom we want. It’s pretty amazing if you pause to ponder how life is so radically different than it was just a decade ago.

However, as with most things, there is a downside to the age of instant media in which we all now exist.

Sometimes, I’m not sure I hear much of anything above the deafening cacophony of noise that permeates my daily life. With everyone having access to the same tools mentioned above, it’s tough to stand out, get noticed, and feel a sense of belonging even though we are more “connected” than at any other time in history (Oh, the irony part I).

This is especially true when it comes to the “look at me” society in terms of professional “accomplishments” that social media celebrates and, to an extent, rewards. To be sure, there are business successes to share and memorialize on the social platform of your choosing. Things like being promoted to a new role, landing a new job, winning an award for the work you've done, or landing a colossal account after months of work come to mind. However, when every minor victory – or even a decent day at work – is lauded as a professional achievement that will be written about in business books for years to come, it tends to neutralize the REAL accomplishments mentioned above.

In other words, we’ve lost the elegance of quietly doing the task at hand in favor of shouting just a bit louder than everyone else. I think of my father, who worked as a Systems Analyst at NCR (National Cash Register) for many years. He was proud of his work, but I don’t recall him coming home in his polyester suit and declaring to anyone and everyone that he “crushed it” that day because he simply did his job. While I’m sure tinkering with spreadsheets all day was exciting, there was a quiet dignity in the fact he took pride in doing his job well and not boasting about it at every opportunity.

To be clear, I’ve also been guilty of committing this instant media crime (Oh, the irony part II). However, over the past year or so, I’ve tried to be mindful of what I do and do not share professionally. It’s not always beneficial to me or to brandivate clients to post something like a picture of my desk at night because I’m working late. It happens, we all know it happens, and it only serves to lessen the significant things that do need to be shared. It becomes self-promotion with little thought as to what exactly the goal might be.

Bottom line: There’s a time for promotion – including self-promotion – but there’s also a time for simply getting the job done without making sure your audience is aware of your efforts. Remember, hard work in silence generally makes the loudest noise.

Now, go out there and quietly crush it.

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