I heard Rob Shaul talking about the Quiet Professional on an Art of Manliness podcast and I have since been consumed with this approach to life.
The term comes from the Special Forces community but Rob builds the idea into a holistic message that coveys several big ideas.
It is a craftsman mentality; go to work and chase perfection.
UPDATE: The original essay is below but there is also a series of video presentations that he did for the Denver Fire Department that was also worth the watch.
What Does it Mean to be a Quiet Professional by Rob Shaul
1) Mission First.
It took me until my 40s (I’m a slow learner…) to realize, “It’s not about me.” I’ve finally matured past the point of chasing individual accolades or accomplishments – and have come to realize these can be as fleeting, and unfulfilling as a shiny new purchase. Turning this corner is incredibly liberating. Ambition, angst, jealousy have faded and with their evaporation has come to a growing sense of solace. I’m intense, and have sought this solace, but until my 40’s thought it would come when I’d reached an “acceptable” level of personal accomplishment. Only when I let that go and put the mission, and others, first, have I begun to realize a budding sense of peace.
To be clear. It’s not about you. Accept, understand and embrace this. It’s liberating.
2) Hard Work with a Full Heart.
Quiet professionals are “happy grinders.” There’s an understanding that huge leaps forward are few and fleeting, and most advancements is evolutionary. Keep grinding, keep improving, keep learning, have patience, and improvement is steady. Daily small steps forward lead to big gains over time. Stop looking for shortcuts and get to work on becoming a true craftsman.
3) Understanding the difference between “Experience” and “Wisdom.”
Everyone has experience. Wisdom takes work and includes true reflection, admitting and owning mistakes, forgiving yourself, learning and stepping back up to the plate for another swing.
4) Knowing what to do = Easy. Doing It = Hard.
Most of life is fairly simple and direct. Ninety-nine percent of the time we know what the “right” thing to do is. Our overthinking minds and selfish selves will try to confuse things with rationalization, but we know deep down what is right. It’s the doing it that is hard.
Quiet professionals push away the rationalization and focus on the hard truths with clear eyes. They identify the right action and do it.
No one is perfect. When they don’t do the right thing, quiet professionals reflect, learn from it, forgive themselves and look forward intent on future improvement.
5) Continual Professional Learning.
Driven not by competitiveness and ambition but by a sincere wish to improve and a strong respect for the profession.
6) Embrace the Suck.
Life is not fair. Everything worth doing is hard. There’s often no light at the end of the tunnel. Don’t whine. Don’t bemoan. Embrace it, smile, and soldier on.
Professional and private. Much easier when you are able to live in the present – and truly appreciate how fortunate you are and how amazing your life is and the people in your life are.
[end of essay]
A quiet professional lives an intentional life.
Everything is done for a reason, in pursuit of excellence. Greatness is often achieved but it is never the goal.
The process is embraced; it is the journey that counts.
In Pursuit of Excellence
Additionally, check out these thought-provoking insights from other great thinkers: