Mind Readings: The Opposite of Quiet Quitting is Ambition

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Mind Readings: The Opposite of Quiet Quitting is Ambition

In this piece, let’s talk about quiet quitting and its opposite, ambition. What is quiet quitting? What is ambition?

Quiet quitting is a trend that is described as people doing only the minimum required in their jobs. It is about setting boundaries and saying that an employer does not have the right to demand extra work of you that they’re not paying for. Ambition is the opposite of quiet quitting and is about people willingly volunteering to work well beyond what they’re paid to do. As an employer, you can create conditions where employees want to express their ambition by making them feel safe, paying them fairly, and building real professional friendships.

Mind Readings: The Opposite of Quiet Quitting is Ambition

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Christopher Penn 0:15

In today’s episode, let’s talk about quiet.


This has been a term that has been in the news recently, it is something of a buzz term.

And what it is and what its opposite is.

So what is quiet quitting? Quiet quitting is a trend that is described as people.

It’s typically assigned to younger folks, but I think it’s applicable to everyone who are doing only the minimum required in their jobs, right? They look at their job description, they say, this is what I’m getting paid to do.

And that’s what you do.

And at the end of the day, you stop working, and you go about with your life.

Now, there’s a bunch of different perspectives on this.

But it’s really centered most heavily on salaried employees.

And there are contrary opinions people saying, well, what about people who want to get ahead and stuff? Quiet? Quitting seems like not the way to do that.

And, ultimately, quiet quitting itself is about setting boundaries.

It’s about setting boundaries and saying, Okay, this is what I’m, I’m being paid to do.

I’ll do that.

I’ll do it to the best of my ability.

And if I’m asked to do things that I’m not being paid to, do I have the right to say, No, I have the right.

See, yeah, that’s not what I’m being paid to do.

Think about this.

Especially if you’re a salaried employee, how much does your pay increase commensurate to your effort? Right? Does working 10% more hours get you 10%? More pay? If you’re an hourly employee? The answer is yes.

If you’re a salaried employee, the answer is probably no.

Does handling 10% More than what’s in your job description? Get you 10% More pay? What about 20%? Or 50%? If the answer is 0%, meaning you don’t get any extra for the extra work that you do.

Why do it that’s not to say you shouldn’t do your job, right, give the 100% you’re paid to give.

That’s that’s the agreement.

That’s the trade.

Imagine like, there are people who are very angry about this, but like, imagine you’re going to a grocery store, you pay for what’s in your cart, and then you insist that you didn’t get enough value and just stop putting boring stuff in your cart after you’ve checked out without paying for what happens to you.

You you get the bracelets in the back and and a ride downtown, right for theft for shoplifting or stealing.

For a an employer to insist you do more than you’re paid for is still stealing.

You’re stealing a person’s time.

And if an employee volunteers, that’s one thing.

But if you’re insisting Yeah, you got to work on this project.

You know, you got to work extra hours this weekend, whatever, and you’re not getting paid extra for it.

Quiet quitting is about saying Nope, I got stuff to do.

And you’re not paying me to be here to do that.

Now, a number of folks have said old this is, you know, sort of a terrible work ethic.

Well, is about it.

To me, it seems like you’re doing work commensurate to what you’re getting paid to do.

So what’s the opposite of quiet quitting? What’s the what’s the thing that people are looking for thinking about it? That is ambition.

Ambition is the opposite of quiet quitting.

And there’s nothing wrong with ambition at all.

If someone wants to hustle and grind and work extra if they if you are a person who is willingly and knowingly consenting to working above and beyond what they’re getting paid for.


And that’s a good thing.

And for the folks who are like, well, you know, in my day, I used to do you know, to put in the extra time to try and be seen.

Yeah, that’s called ambition.

The difference between quiet quitting and ambition is you’re not insisting that a person do that extra work for free, right? That person is volunteering.

They’re raising a hand saying, I want to do this extra work for free.

And when somebody does that, recognize them, celebrate them to be happy you have them and treat them well.

And do your darndest to hold on to them.

Right? Put them at the front of the line for promotions, pay raises and bonuses and parties and whatever else you can figure out.

Quit quitting is all about setting boundaries.

The employee is the one in modern society, the employee is the one who has to set the boundaries of how much they want to let work into the rest of their life.

You have this period of time where you’re expected to work whatever it is you’re expected to work.

anything extra you do above and beyond that is voluntary if you’re not getting paid more for it and so quiet quitting is people saying yeah, I’m this is the limit.

This is the line here.

This is where I’m paid.

This is where I’m not paid.

I’m not going to bring work into the not paid part of my time.

where employers and older folks like me run into trouble is not understanding the difference.

Right? Mandating extra work that goes unpaid that’s, that’s not okay.

Right? That is stealing.

And that’s why quiet quitting has become a trend.

But if somebody willingly volunteers to work well beyond what they’re paid to do, that is their right to do so right.

As long as they consent to it, they’re not being coerced, they’re making a conscious choice to do so.

And if we as if we recognize that they have the right to withdraw, that consent, that withdrawal back to the boundaries of their job description, commencer pay, then we should gratefully accept whatever else they choose to gift us of their time, because it is a gift.

And we have to do our best as employers and managers to recognize and true up those efforts, those extra efforts, as we have the resources available to do.


That’s the difference.

When you tell somebody, you must do more than you’re paid to do, that’s not okay.

When somebody says I volunteer of my own free will, to do more in the social expectation that it will be returned in kind some day.

That’s the person’s right to do.

For a good chunk of my career, I was the person who tried to do more to try to be seen try to do as much as possible to to be noticed.

And this is just my personal experiences as an n of one as a sample of one.

But it never really paid off.

Right? It never really paid off.

Did I get that big promotion? No.

Did I get that huge pay raise? No.

Did I get you know the big payout, the big bonus? Now, for the last 20 years of my career? Did I retain my job? Yes.

Did I get a lot of praise? Yes.

Was that praise accompanied by material recognition of my efforts? Not really.

Yes, there were small bonuses here and there, but not commensurate to the value that I was delivering.

My last company, the team that I built with my coworkers, was the second largest billing team in the entire company.

We with a scrappy little group of 10 people, we’re generating more revenue than most of the other teams.

And when we got our year end bonuses, they were so appallingly small compared to the revenue we’re generating, that we’re like, why why bother? So I completely understand the trend of quiet quitting, I completely agree with it, that an employer does not have the right to demand extra work of you that they’re not paying for.

That’s not okay.

I also acknowledge that if you have ambition, and you work in a place that is conducive to ambition being recognized, that’s your right, go for it, hustle, grind, you know, do whatever the, the trendy term for hard work is these days.

Now, if you’re an employer or a manager, how do you create conditions where employees want to express their ambition where they want to put an extra effort, it’s actually pretty simple.

Not easy, but it’s pretty simple.

Number one, they have to feel safe, right? So you have to create a safe space for them to, to flex their workstyle and let them deliver the results that you want.

In a way that’s most convenient for them, right, you’re you know that you’re more likely to put in extra work if you’re comfortable doing so right? If you know that you can put in extra hours but you don’t have to miss you know, your kids baseball game or your significant others birthday party or you know, those those things that very often an extra work takes away from if you can create a safe space for people to to experience that to balance their lives.

People will feel safe.

I remember, you know, I quit a company back in 2012 when a loved one passed away, and I was on a business trip, and I said I need to get home and they’re like, No, you need to finish this, this assignment remote network, right.

I’ll finish it and then we’re done.

That’s it.

We’re done.

And I quit.

That was that.

It wasn’t quiet.

It was just quit.

That company had no interest in providing a safe space.

Another company I worked for.

I was traveling like 30 of the 52 weeks of the year.

And so I was missing birthdays and anniversaries and all kinds of things, rehearsals and recitals.

And because my team was so successful, it’s such a big revenue generator.

We had to do that too.

To maintain that pace, but it cost a lot.

And it was not rewarded in kind.

So if you put your people’s lives before work, generally speaking, they will put more of their lives into work as long as they have the flexibility to say, hey, you know, my kids got soccer practice at 3pm.

Today, I’m out and you’re like, cool, see ya.

And then they catch up at 9pm.

That night.


That is the essence of the often quoted rarely done, results oriented results only work environment.

Row, it’s called results only work environment, very few people actually do that, even though a lot of people talk about it.

But if you can do that, that’s one way to help people’s ambition.

Number two, fulfill that ambition as quickly and as thoroughly as you can go to bat, go to bat for your highest performance when it comes to pay raises and bonuses and other forms of compensation.

As as fast as you can, as big as you can reward that ambitions because ambition and volunteering is essentially a social debt, someone who’s volunteering and giving you more time and the expectation is repaid.

At my last company, I had one direct report that was up for a promotion.

And I recognize that she was doing way more than her job description was way more than than the next position up.

So it took a lot of fighting and a lot of very politically unpopular things behind the scenes, but we got it done, we got promoted to director level positions of a manager position because she expressed the ambition she did the work, she went above and beyond and you got to pay that out.

You have to pay that if you don’t pay that out, people will not express their ambition, they will simply quiet quit and say okay, well, if you’re not going to, if you’re not going to recognize my efforts, why bother? And do you blame them.

And number three, this one’s going to be tricky.

But you have to build real professional friendships with your highest performance, relationship power, the ability to ask for help from someone through the strength of the relationship you have with them dramatically over performance, role power, which is when you have a title and say I’m the manager, you’re not the manager, I tell you what to do.

That’s role power.

Relationship power, dramatically outperforms role power.

So if you are good about cultivating relationships in a in a professional context, but you build a strong professional relationships with people, strong professional friendships, that helps people fulfill that ambition helps people a feel comfortable to express it and be to to fulfill it.

Yes, you have to pay it out, you have to pay it out.

But the intangible benefits also have to match right? Recognition, praise, good performance reviews, and other intangible benefits as you can create them.

In my last position, one of the things that, that people said to me, I thought was really interesting was they said they stuck around and didn’t quit our team and go someplace else, because they felt like they were getting paid to go to graduate school, they felt like they were learning so much on the job so often, that it would be silly for them to leave and lose that opportunity to learn from the rest of the team.

That is not something you measure in dollars, per se, it is but it is definitely a benefit that is powered by that relationship by that willingness to give in multiple ways to your team.

So that so the, in some ways, you know, their ambition is just a counter payment of sorts, right? If they feel like they’re gaining $50,000 A year education for free, and actually getting a paycheck for it, then they also will feel some sense of social obligation to to repay that.

Again, that’s not something you want to rub in somebody’s face, right? You do it because it legitimately helps your team.

But in doing so it helps foster loyalty.

It helps foster strength of relationship it helps.

It helps build that relationship power so that

someone is not only okay working a little bit harder, maybe a little bit longer, but they enjoy it because it gives them a chance to grow.

Right so that’s sort of quiet quitting and it’s opposites.

Quiet quitting an ambition are two sides of the same coin.

Quiet quitting is what happens when you as a manager or an employer, don’t make people feel safe and take more than you give.

And ambition is what happens when you make people feel safe.

And when you give more than you take.

So give that some thought if you’d like this video go ahead and hit that subscribe button

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