Quiet Professionals

We all know that person at work who has all sorts of great ideas. Great ideas, I’ll add, that never get past being just that: ideas. They have no intentions of doing anything, they just want to voice an idea or thought out loud.

In Special Forces we called these people the “Good Idea Fairy” or “GIF”. The GIF is the person who has ideas of how to do things “better” — but are utterly incapable of identifying the action items or next steps necessary to implement their ideas.

They’re the people who love to offer opinions and gossip about a chosen course of action, but never seem able to offer any viable solutions, inputs, or alternatives.

Sadly, the GIF is never alone. Where there’s a GIF you’ll always find his great friend the “Triple P” or Problem-Problem-Person. Triple P’s love to bring problems to the table just to watch the drama unfold.

They are easily distinguishable from their opposites — “Problem-Solution-People”. These people, upon identifying problems, quickly and proactively develop quality ideas on how to correct them.

If you don’t know how to figure out the difference between the two, I’ll help: Problem-Solution-People are easier to identify. They are the ones at work who help and are proactive and cooperative team players when dealing with problems. They are far less concerned with the problem than with correcting it.

I’ll phrase it another way: they are the people you enjoy working with.

Every organization has Good Idea Fairies. Some have more than others, but I promise you they are there.

Think back to a meeting that went on far too long because the Triple P wouldn’t stop offering suggestions. What about the most recent time an entire new project was dumped on you because the GIF planted a seed in the boss’s brain?

Sometimes, sadly, your boss is the GIF. Even worse is when you realize they are a combination GIF/Triple P.

It happens more than you think. When it does it is a clear signal the organization is in serious trouble.

But… It doesn’t have to be this way.

The ability to identify problems resides in each of us. It’s part of our limbic brain and drives our survival instincts.

Rare though, is the individual born with the inherent ability (and desire) to quietly and proactively solve problems — prior to and without burdening others with them. Oh, and without seeking recognition for their efforts.

Even more rare are organizations filled with these proactive problem solvers — the people who engage targets and put out fires before others even smell the smoke.

This ethos doesn’t come naturally to most people, you have to select, educate, and empower them.

By selecting (the correct people), educating (their weaknesses) and empowering (their strengths) you’ll see the organization start to transform. You’ll start accomplishing things previously unimagined and you’ll do so with less drama and strife than ever thought possible.

When your organization is filled with the right people who are energetic, passionate, and empowered it is unbelievable what you can accomplish. You’ll accomplish things daily that others can’t, or won’t, in a month.

In my opinion, the best example of an organization which operates like this is the Army Special Forces, or Green Berets. We call ourselves “Quiet Professionals,” and we mean it.

Sure, we have our fair share of braggarts, but I’ll argue they typically don’t occupy positions of importance.

Army Special Forces personnel are taught to think unconventionally, to master the basics, and are encouraged at every level to creatively and unconventionally solve problems. We collectively embrace learning and strive to be the best at all we do.

You have to realize, we are assessed and selected on our ability to solve problems. Throughout all training phases (even after we’ve made it to a Team) our problem solving ability is honed to a weaponized edge.

Problem-Problem-People are anathema to us and we avoid them like the plague. Oh yeah, and whenever possible we box up the Good Idea Fairies and put them on the shelf.

We don’t seek recognition and are unconventional, cooperative, yet disruptive team players.

We understand Quiet Professionals DO the job — no matter what that job may be. We put fingers to keyboard and produce products. We pick up the phone and make sales. We lead energetic and professional organizations with little to no drama. We complete our missions to the best of our ability. No Matter What.

Even when it’s neither pretty nor enjoyable.

We win both the battles and the war. We don’t talk endlessly about it because we don’t need to. As Nike says — we “Just do it.” We solve problems.

Dizzy Dean, the great baseball player, said it best — “It ain’t bragging if you can do it.” Ask yourself, have you been bragging or are you truly doing it?

Be a problem solver. Be a Quiet Professional.

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