15Stop Quiet Quitting Your Life

Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman

Back in 1907, well before the term quiet quitting (disengaging and dragging your feet at work) invaded the lexicon and the collective consciousness, the father of American psychology, William James, sounded an alarm. Don't worry, this isn't a history lesson, but it's worth our time to unpack what James had to say.

“Compared with what we ought to be,” James warned in one of his final writings, “we are only half awake. Our fires are damped, our drafts are checked.”1 Unfortunately, the poetic language may have obscured his message. Nobody fully grasped the gravity of what he was saying.

To give it some modern context, if you sat with James in a bar today, he might swivel his stool, turn to you, and say something like: “Dude, you're in a fog. You're not yourself.” Alas, where James's contemporaries didn't comprehend his first statement, they butchered the meaning of his second: “We are making use of only a small part of our possible mental and physical resources.”

In a tragic game of broken telephone that spans a century, James's concluding remark evolved (or devolved) to give life to the myth that we utilize only 10% of our brain's capacity. But James wasn't talking about the brain's physiological potential; he was talking about the development of the psyche. While the symptoms he described remained misunderstood and thus ignored, the underlying ailment festered.

Just as you don't want a history lesson, we don't want ...

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