Work in Silence

Before diving into today’s post called “Work in silence”, just want to acknowledge that this Motivation Monday post is landing on the day set aside to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.

His work ethics, his mission, his sacrifice left a mark on history and has influence many to work tirelessly through obstacles in order to get the change they feel the world needs to see.

His use of peaceful protest and sharing of ideas through speech and written words proved very effective in galvanizing social change on a large scale. Not everyone agrees with his strategies and tactics, and that’s perfectly fine. There are may ways to get to a destination.

This post will pull just a small tiny bit of his legacy to form the framework of this “work in silence” idea being proposed. It’s a lesson that I’m learning to apply that can easily fly in the face of a lot of popular advice. So… let’s dive in.

Work in Silence

Often, the desire to advertise what one is working on is great. I’ve been very guilty of this many times. I will proclaim and shout about the things I will be doing. Then, when the time arrives and the deed is not done, I’m often running for cover and hiding while I’m scrambling to make things work.

My mom often told me to work in silence and let my results speak for themselves. The only downside of this advice I’ve run into is this… results do not have mouths to speak. They don’t shout their existence. If that was the case, my speaking career would have flourished on it’s own and I’d be doing very well as a speaker.

It can either be that I’ve had a lot of people lie to me about how great a speaker I am or I am under the false impression that I’m really a great speaker and I’m not. Reality is a bit more nuanced. I am good enough that my career has been spread over two decades plus of speaking (more like three… but who’s counting really). All by word of mouth. People like what I do on stage, and they keep calling. So, yes, there is that validation. However, speaking for free is no way to keep the bills paid.

Be that as it may be, the best presentations I’ve made came from when I’ve worked in silence. There was no setting up expectations. There was no noise making that I had to back up once on stage. To that end, working silently has been very practical. I’m now understanding that the best way to proclaim your work is after the work has been done. If you hang in there, I will expand on that thought a bit more.

Work in peace

The single biggest advantage of working in silence is the element of peace. When one is not constantly distracted or obliged to keep advertising one’s work, one has the best chance of doing deep work. That deep work usually produces the quality results that are worthy of sharing loudly with others.

Two examples:

Jumping on social media to post all these updates about a project that’s not yet designed is not a great use of time. All the interruptions from notifications as people want to know about the details of the project can slow down the time that would have been spent creating the project.

Had the social media posts been part of a carefully planned strategy, that’s different. The project is already on it’s way, the market validation research has already been done, now it’s just informing the fans of the planned launch to build interest. That makes total sense. The early days of planning the project should be done in a place of mental peace… free from over sharing too early.

Many projects have come to an untimely end because of nay-sayers who thought they were helping but drove the creative spark out instead.

MLK, if he was alive today, would probably keep most of his planned boycotts very close to the vest. Only those who can give him qualified input would know, and they’d be trustworthy as well. Then, when it was time to act, he’d speak out and let people know of the coming event to galvanize the maximum results.

Second example, I often will find a very quiet place to do most of my creative work. Reason being, the peace that comes from having no distractions makes for a lot better focus. I have young children who do not yet understand the value of long deep quiet focus. That is not their age. When I have to write a post like this, I will go find some place very quiet and write. I do not need to advertise this to anyone. I do not need to tell my children where I went, because they will want to come along. All they know, daddy is busy doing errands. (which I will do after I’m done working on my post by the way).

There is no need to speak in advance of doing the work. There is no need to make a big deal out of it. The results will speak for themselves. And when the day is done, it is a good conversational piece with the children to explain to them how important it is to plan your errands and projects out so that they are done efficiently. How will they know it was done efficiently? Daddy came back home early enough to play with them. A much improvement from the old days when his errands (writing and errands) took all day and they didn’t get to play with daddy at all.

This brings me to my other point… bite size…

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