“Work hard in silence, let your success be your noise.”
When I graduated college, I took this advice so literally I practically took a vow of silence when people spoke to me about my goals.
Being a person with an unrealistic dream, it’s not always easy to share what you want with people. Advice like “work hard in silence” seems good on paper, but in practice, it’s isolating. It discourages talking about what you want before you know how to succeed.
Say that today is the very first day of pursuing your dream. You are now in uncharted territory. You have no connections, no idea how to begin what you’re doing or how to move forward. By taking this advice, you have created a guaranteed method to failure. Why? Because no one has ever accomplished anything alone. Your first attempt will most likely not be a grand slam. But how will you know how to get better if you keep it all to yourself?
Growth comes from being challenged. Improvement comes from seeing new perspectives and being accepting of feedback. Reach out to someone you trust and say, “Hey, I’m working on this, can you look it over and give me some constructive criticism?” Don’t study your craft in silence and let your work die on notepad shoved in the back of a drawer. You can trap yourself in a room for the next 30 years of your life and work, and in 30 years you will still be in that room alone.
Instead of silently waiting for society’s limited and warped version of success, you should be screaming your dreams from the rooftops. People want to help you, but they don’t know how or what to help you with if you don’t tell them. Working in silence can keep you stagnated. By speaking it out loud before you have even begun, you’re opening yourself up to help. Someone might say, “I know a person who does something like that, let me put you in contact with them.” Those connections can never be made if you never tell anyone what you actually want.
Advice like “let success be your noise” limits what it means to be successful. It insinuates that success has to be a huge, tangible win for the world to see. This definition doesn’t celebrate the small victories. For an example, say your dream as to write a book. Well then, sitting down, planning it out and writing a book is a success. And maybe that’s not as loud and noisy of a victory like a New York Time’s Best Seller or a Pulitzer Prize, but it’s an accomplishment that deserves to be celebrated. You had a goal and you accomplished it. Congratulations, you succeeded.
I know that sometimes it’s hard to talk about the things you want because the people in our lives are not always supportive. And it is popular on the internet to call these people in our lives “toxic” and say they need to be cut off. But sometimes, the people in your life just love you, and they want security for you. Sometimes our dreams are too big for others to understand. So maybe your current family and friends aren’t the best people to ask for opinions on your ideas and get advice from. That’s okay, but it’s still important to keep the conversation going. Make sure people know what you’re working towards and that you are committed to making it happen. The more adamant you are about your passion, the more likely they are to fall in line. And in that case, maybe they can find connections for you too.
I know you’re thinking, “If you can’t go to the people in my life for feedback, don’t I have to work hard in silence and prove to them it’s possible?” No, you never have to work alone, and your dreams are not something you need to prove. Let’s keep going with this book example. You want to be a writer? Find a writer. There are thousands of people in the world and probably hundreds in your community who have experience. Reach out. If you reach out to 20 people, one of them is bound to say yes. And when they do, ask questions on how they began, the resources they use, what systems and habits they have created that have helped them get to where they are. Ask for input on your ideas and where you should begin. Don’t feel like you have to learn everything on your own just because the people in your small world don’t understand.
Creating meaningful relationships within your community is how you make your dreams come true. You can’t do that by working alone. The process is not quiet, and sometimes success isn’t loud. Be vocal about your dreams, find the people who have been there already, ask for help, and celebrate each small win along the way.