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Quiet-Quitting and the Brave New World


Quiet-quitting is a term that has surfaced recently to describe employees who do the bare minimum required to keep the job—no extra effort, hours, or talent expended. And it’s not just employees who feel like giving up. At times I’ve thought of quiet-quitting my own business.

I know it sounds strange for a business owner to say that. And you may be thinking, “Well, it must be because she’s lazy. Not driven. Entitled. Why would I want to work with a coach with that kind of attitude?” More on that later.

It’s common for business owners to get in a rut where they feel like the business is running them, instead of the other way around. It can be exhausting. The events of the past two years exacerbated this “hamster-on-a-wheel” lifestyle.

High expectations are affecting business owners and employees alike.

Many people – both business owners and employees – have been put off by the often-demanding expectations of employers or clients, as well as a hot labor market that subverts loyalty. Add in a change in perspective brought on by the stress of a global pandemic, and they’re starting to rethink their lives.

My private clients tell me that they want a different way to work—one that better aligns with their values, that allows them to focus diligently during the hours they are on the clock, and to rejuvenate in their time off. At the end of the day, they want their hours to mean more than fattening the bank account of an opportunistic employer or investor group, or being a punching bag for a world-weary, stressed-out client.

I realized, as I thought about my own business, that quiet-quitting isn’t about laziness or carelessness or selfishness.

It’s a change in perspective of how work integrates into a deeply fulfilling life.

The problem is that our society is geared around expectations created in a world that no longer exists. The affluent economy we enjoy today, a product of industrialization, emerged in the past 150 years. Our economic system, our educational system, our financial system, our social system, and the way in which we approach working outside the home, all developed together to create unprecedented affluence.

Technology has sped up the world of work to the point where it isn’t humanly possible to tend to everything during working hours. Email, instant messaging applications, and smart phones connect us at all times, allowing work to easily bleed into our private lives.

Thirty years ago, before smart phones, you left the office at the office. Some people carried beepers after hours, but most people went home to free time and a break from the stresses of work. Back then, going above and beyond meant being physically present at the office, not leaving and being on-call 24 hours a day.

Today we’ve arrived at an uncomfortable moment of change.

It seems like all our systems are fraying at the edges—economic, financial, social, and work. Human beings have an innate need for stability and predictability, two constants which have become variables. A natural reaction is to double down on what worked in the past, and push harder. But this strategy is like trying to stuff yourself into skinny jeans after a luxury cruise featuring an all-you-can-eat gourmet buffet. You can’t zip the pants because you’ve outgrown them. This is why so many people are quiet-quitting. We’ve outgrown the systems and mores that once made our world run.

We can’t turn back time or technology, so there’s only one thing that can change to address the epidemic of quiet quitting, and move us into the brave new world that’s already stretching its wings.


It’s us.

We have to change, and catch up with the technology we’ve created.

A few months ago, I was writing articles about 4 vital skills that every business needs to develop (in addition to all the time-honored business skills – sales, marketing, finance, design, production, et al).

Now I’ve come to believe that these skills aren’t just about your business – they are about your whole life, because the world we live in and the technology we’ve developed allow us to be contacted at any time. We have to revisit our mores and the protocols for how we interact with each other, and use that place of human connection to rewrite the rules for the new economy that’s emerging.

I don’t have the answers, but I can see the problems that need addressing. To start the conversation, I propose we look at some core skills that we need to develop:

  • Learning Beyond Your Beliefs
  • 3D Thinking
  • Question Asking
  • Active Listening

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing an article covering each of these topics. I hope you’ll join me in exploring this emerging world.