How to achieve success as a quiet achiever: a stealth achiever's guide to silent achievement (2024)

How to achieve success as a quiet achiever: a stealth achiever's guide to silent achievement (1)

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Robert Hackney How to achieve success as a quiet achiever: a stealth achiever's guide to silent achievement (2)

Robert Hackney

Marketing, communications, entertainment

Published Nov 19, 2021

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At the beginning of a new job you generally decide to either put your head down and be a quiet achiever or stand out to create career momentum. The problem with the quiet achiever approach is that your efforts can fly under the radar, and it often looks like you’re doing nothing at all.

Here are five ways to stand out as a quiet achiever you may not have considered, or just brushed off as deranged, wildly inappropriate—even illegal in some parts of the world:

1. Yell a lot: Just because you’re quietly achieving in the work field, it doesn’t mean you need to be silent in the noise space. Yell things like “why do I have so much work all the time you guys?” and “will these clients please stop praising me so hard??” while walking around the office. When you're using the bathrooms or sitting on a breakout room couch, continue yelling assorted things so that anyone who passes by hears that you take your job seriously, even when you're relaxing.

2. Be angry: It probably goes hand in hand with the yelling, but let’s be clear about the advice: don’t yell nice things all the time, yell angry things. Anger management experts who we paradoxically asked how to be more angry said “Um gosh I don’t know, think about something that really fires you up I suppose?” Great advice. Data only available behind a paywall doesn’t dispute the notion that being angry at work gives the impression that you became that way by working so hard. This sentiment will trickle upward to management in less time than you can scream “Who keeps using my coffee cup?!”

3.Always carry a prop: In a world of highly complex interactions and “always on” 24/7 business you should never not be looking at something and thinking hard about it. That’s why when you walk around the office to grab a coffee or snoop on what a colleague is writing about you in Slack, it pays to have a printed out sheet of data in your hand. Stare angrily (see point 2) at the sheet to avoid eye contact with coworkers, yell menacing things (point 1), and if you do need to interact with someone on the way, show it to them quickly and roll your eyes as if to say “more of this am I right?” Don’t verbalise that though, just in case they ask followup questions.

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4. Ask the right questions: By asking things like "did you hear our company is going to be bought by our main competitor?" or "why are people saying there won't be any bonuses this year?" it's easy to keep focus on the broader picture, with less time for colleagues to wonder precisely who has been doing what particular work recently. In a similar vein, suggestion boxes are ironically just a suggestion. They can also be for questions, or complaints--anonymous ones! The great thing about anonymity is it leaves you a lot of freedom to declare information on the written record without any obligation to source facts. Your boss may suspect it's you reporting him for washing his lunchbox in the urinal, but unless he has security footage of you leaving those accusations in the suggestion box, you're probably in the clear. Protip: If you normally write right-handed, go leftie.

5. Body language matters: If you're still concerned about your status in the workplace even after implementing career tips 1 through 4, there is still one arena of inter-office dynamics for silent achievers that we can improve: how we carry ourself. Health experts recommend standing for 10 minutes out of every hour to stretch your legs, arms, torso, eyes, hamstrings, and tenderloins. But they don't say anything about not practicing karate while you do so. Demonstrating to the rest of the office that you're constantly on the edge of combat readiness by powering through a series of martial arts kata stances every hour on the hour will subtly communicate that you're all about actions over words, while simultaneously discouraging your being asked for finished work, medical certificates, or overtime.

Today there are many schools of thought around how introverts can become more extroverted to get ahead. Quiet achievers should always take a little bit of extra time and effort to make sure they're being fully recognised.

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