Managing what your coworkers think of you is more of an art than a science, especially when you have a reputation to uphold.
Take Chelsea Clinton. Growing up in the public eye is a burden in its own way. But when you have presidential blood running through your veins, the weight of outsider expectations has a special kind of crushing gravity. Critics gleefully anticipate your stumbles (media reaction to Chelsea’s role as an NBC News “special correspondent” is a good example of this) and even employers have a hard time seeing past the glow of your celebrity.
So what is Chelsea’s secret to debunking workplace assumptions, and getting her colleagues to see her as, well, a great worker and not simply a beneficiary of the Clinton dynasty? It’s simple, actually: Let your work ethic shine.
“I will just always work harder [than anybody else] and hopefully perform better,” she told Fast Company in this month’s cover story. “And hopefully, over time, I preempt and erase whatever expectations people have of me not having a good work ethic, or not being smart, or not being motivated.”
Chelsea’s thinking is revealing. The workplace is rarely a meritocracy. And office politics–like real politics–are finicky and beyond your control. While overachieving has its own potential pitfalls, it does have the benefit of putting you in the driver seat. And with any luck, your hustle will get you noticed. Maybe even at the water cooler.