“Quiet Quitting” Makes You an Oxygen Thief

Passive aggressiveness sits atop 2022’s workplace bingo card. It’s insane. I can’t believe people are leaning into movements like “quiet quitting.”

My intern first mentioned this term to me. Soon after, I saw it trending on Twitter. Quiet quitting, which basically means doing the bare minimum at your job, is a disgrace. It’s an excuse for employees to shut down, rejecting “hustle culture” in a misguided attempt to set boundaries between their personal and professional lives.

I won’t mince words: If you’re a quiet quitter, you’re a terrible person. Better yet, you’re an oxygen thief. You’re stealing oxygen from everyone else.

I mean, if you’d tried this in 1999, you would have been ostracized from society. No one would have talked to you again. But creating as little as possible, exerting the least amount of effort to stay employed—these are sad realities in 2022.

So, why are people checking out? Why are so many people doing the bare minimum at their jobs and striving for so little?

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Challenge Yourself

A lot of it comes down to not being challenged. If you’re bored and just going through the motions, you’re not going to find fulfillment. That doesn’t mean you should quiet quit your job. It means you should find something else that gives you a reason to climb out of bed.

I’ve always been challenged at work. Well, aside from a three-year period when I was doing intel for the Coast Guard. That was an easy job, but besides that, I’ve had a difficult path. I was a working-class kid from Connecticut, joined the military, and enrolled in a third-tier MBA program before Lehman Brothers took a chance on me.

And let me tell you, working on Wall Street for nine years was stressful. I’m 48 years old now. My hair is almost completely gray. I lived about three lifetimes in that nine-year span, but I was challenged and well compensated for it.

So, quiet quitting isn’t the answer. That’s not how to get ahead. Instead, you should push yourself. Whatever you think you’re capable of, you are capable of so much more. And whatever you think you can produce in a day, you can produce five times as much.

You just haven't challenged yourself enough.

More Money Is Good

It all comes down to money, though, right? That’s probably the #1 driver behind the surge in quiet quitting. Loyalty often goes unrewarded, so if you feel like your employer is taking advantage of you, you’ve got two options:

  1. If you’re a top performer, you can demand a raise. This is what we used to call “holding up the bank.” If you get a raise, great. You can stay in your current position and get paid more to do your job.

  2. If your current employer is unwilling to meet, say, an offer from another company, you can always walk.

Of course, if you’re a bottom performer, you can’t get away with demanding a raise.

But more money is a good thing. If you’re making $80K a year and another company offers you $200K, there’s not much of a debate. Go do that job for an extra $120K. That kind of money will change your life.

When huge money is on the line, it’s almost always worth it to make the change. Trivial amounts of money? Not so much.

Still, there are always those who succumb to inertia. People often get too comfortable and stop taking chances. And all I can say is this: If you turn down an offer because you’re on autopilot and want to avoid the challenges of starting a new job, you lose the right to complain of how little money you have. Because you had the opportunity to make more.

The Myth of the Idle Rich

Maybe quiet quitters are just on a mission to stick it to the man. There’s this mythology of the rich—we often think of them as sitting around in smoking jackets and puffing on pipes in mahogany libraries. Leather-bound books, the whole nine yards.

That’s a fantasy. Most rich people work hard. Or at least they worked hard to get where they are. There’s a reason they’re rich, and I can assure you they didn’t quiet quit their way to the top.

Jared Dillian
Jared Dillian

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