The world doesn’t need more loud success gods.
I’ve spent a lot of my life hanging around people who have achieved a lot, but look below average if you walked past them in the street. These people fascinate the heck out of me. They do incredible things for society and go about it quietly.
One of my favorite people who fits this description is homeless. Early in his career he built his net-worth to more than $100M in real estate. Then he lost everything because of a freak accident, and never gained it back again.
Last year he became homeless again for the second time.
People treat him like dirt and absolutely no one knows his secrets. His understanding of business is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. He can take you through the last fifty years of economic activity and draw seemingly hard to see conclusions from random events. He can take complex math problems and do them in his head.
I see him as a winner, even though society sees him as a failure. He can win again for sure. It’s his mindset that stops him. It’s quiet winners that blow my mind. (You’ve gotta love an underdog too.)
Here’s what quiet winners who are geniuses in one area of their life do differently:
1. They can happily be a loser in one area of their life.
They see mastering all areas of their life as a Cinderella Fantasy. They expect certain areas of their life to suck. They know that if their business is booming then their love life might suck.
They see winning as a trade-off between different areas of their life.
2. They don’t care about looking like a winner.
Looking like a winner is exhausting. How many thank you speeches and podcast interviews can you do before you become overwhelmed by your own success? You can flaunt your results or get on with creating results.
Quiet winners are quiet about their success. They have better things to do than be on back-to-back podcasts and build a ridiculous personal brand.
3. They ask more questions than they give answers to.
Giving answers is boring to them. They prefer to ask questions and see where the conversation takes them. They see questions as a gateway to more ideas. And ideas have the potential to bring them closer to the next quiet win.
Nobody has all the answers. You don’t learn by giving answers. Quiet winners succeed by asking more questions than everybody else.
4. They give the credit to other people.
Looking good is a disease caused by an inflated ego.
Quiet winners want to remain in hiding so they pin all the wins on other people, to stay out of the spotlight. As a result, they attract a lot of good folk into their life because they build up so many random people’s lives.
5. They can make fun of themselves.
Quiet winners make fun of themselves because they understand life is an experiment. They’re not right. They’re just right occasionally when they win.
A joke about themselves helps break the tension in a room full of loud people. Breaking the tension is a superpower. After tension comes productive actions.
6. They don’t flaunt success metrics.
Valuations, dollars raised, number of followers, money in the bank, number of employees, years in business, education and letters after their name — none of this is fun to flaunt for a quiet winner. They don’t understand the fascination.
All they know is they practice doing their work and occasionally something good happens. Then they get right back to the thing that makes this magical, rare occurrence happen.
7. They dress normal.
Good luck trying to spot them in the street as they walk around living their life. They dress so normal they blend in. Because that’s how they want it to be.
Jeans, t-shirts, K-Mart Jumpers, old shoes with scuff marks, subtle black scarves in the winter, plain black shoes, colors so quiet you could think you were in Winter during a snow storm when it’s the middle of Spring — everything they choose to wear gives you zero hints to their previous wins.
They don’t need a watch to show off their wins. They just look at their phone to see what time it is.
8. They don’t do media.
Because fame is a nightmare. They don’t want their face to be regularly seen because then they can’t do the Sunday supermarket shopping without a selfie pole being slammed in their face and accidentally jammed up their left nostril.
They like peace and quiet. They like their wins to do the talking rather than media personalities who are hoping to earn a buck of their success story. They really hate PR companies too. They think inauthentic stories sold to media outlets are the devil’s work.
The subtle differentiator: Why they do it.
Why they win is the difference. Their reason for winning is totally upside down. The wins are just small dots on a huge canvas.
Doing their work is what they like doing, not being noticed for doing their work. The meaning from their work cuts so deep that if a loud human being understood it they would give up their life and start again.
The challenge is they are so quiet it’s near impossible to get close enough to them to understand what drives them. The few times I have, my whole perspective on life changed.
You can be quiet and achieve awesome things. You can have weeks at a time when you speak to nobody. Or you can sign out of social media for the next year and never post a thing.
Winning isn’t about shouting from the rooftops so you can bottle some attention. Winning is about getting lost in the work you do, quietly.
Quiet winners change the world in tiny ways you may never have seen before.
Look beyond the deafening noise for the people in the corner reading a book and not saying a word. They might surprise you.