Let’s focus on the lessons from the queen that would benefit us

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By Howard Feldman

It was almost as though she just couldn’t take it anymore. While the 96-year-old monarch continued to work, to engage with the future prime ministers and perform whatever state functions her frail body would allow her to, the rest of the world debated the concept of “quiet quitting”.  And so, as though in a final act of defiance and strength and after accepting Boris Johnson’s resignation and meeting with Liz Truss, she exited this world, leaving us to continue our important conversations about working less.

Queen Elisabeth II will always be known for her commitment to service. Although she was no doubt served more cups of tea than she might have made for herself, she will not be remembered for being waited on. If there is one trait that will define her long after her passing, it will be for her service to her country. She, in fact, worked until the day before she died.

The expression “quiet quitting” has noisily entered our lexicon. It is meant to be a generation Z thing, but seems to have captured the imagination of those who identify as such. Quiet quitting is an informal term for the practice of reducing the amount of effort one devotes to one’s job, such as by stopping the completion of any tasks not explicitly stated in the job description. In other words, it is the 2022 updated version of “it’s not my job” or “this counter is closed”. It is promoted as being an answer to the work-life balance debate, but rather is simply an excuse for lack of commitment and of care.

It is naïve to think that we will be able to do “quiet work” without it having an impact on other areas of our lives. It is unlikely that we will be able to bring the bare minimum required to our place of employment, but then give hundred percent to our relationships, family and friends. The well-known adage “give a busy person the job” was borne out of the recognition that busy people get things done. They have momentum, focus and drive. They are the opposite of quiet quitters.

The commitment to service is worth celebrating and worth learning from. South Africans could do well to spend less time trying to find reasons to hate the memory of a person who had no real political power and focus on the lessons that would benefit us.

Whereas President Cyril Ramaphosa sent condolences to the British people on the passing of the monarch, the Economic Freedom Fighters put out a statement maligning her memory and intimating that she will be punished in the next world. If there is one. Instead of either focussing on her many positive attributes or remaining silent, they elected to step down and issue a statement unworthy of any political party.

Instead, they might rather consider what a life of service means.

Whereas Nelson Mandela and many of his generation will be remembered for their service to the country, it is hard to imagine which of our current leadership will be remembered for the same: so much so that one has to wonder if “quiet quitting” hadn’t been adopted by South African politicians way before it became trendy.

No matter the view of Queen Elizabeth, the British monarchy or the value of the royal family, her passing signals the end of a life of devotion and commitment. A life of sacrifice, achievement, failure and of dignity. She might have passed away without fuss, but one thing she was not, was a quiet quitter.