Monday, February 18, 2008

Curious about Being Professional: No Matter What Your Career Entails, Are You Are a Professional?

Definition of Professional: (1) Of or pertaining to a profession, or calling; conforming to the rules or standards of a profession; following a profession; as, professional knowledge; professional conduct. (2) Engaged in by professionals; as, a professional race; -- opposed to amateur. (3) A person who prosecutes anything professionally, or for a livelihood, and not in the character of an amateur; a professional worker.

I began wearing hats as a young lawyer because it helped me to establish my professional identity. Before that, whenever I was at a meeting, someone would ask me to get coffee.” - Bella Abzug, American lawyer

A professional is someone who can do his best work when he doesn't feel like it.” - Alistair Cooke, American journalist

I chose this week’s theme, “Professional,” because in the past few weeks I have observed both extremes. A good number of people look and act professional, but then there are those who have a cloud of un-professionalism engulfing them.

We may feel that what a person wears, how he or she speaks and also carries him or herself indicates their level of professionalism. One of the words my newest business venture makes use of to establish a high level is “posture.” Someone who has posture doesn’t become ruffled easily. Posture carries with it a healthy dose of self confidence.

Professionals are not boastful and/or arrogant. They possess a quiet clarity and sense of purpose. My opinion is that it doesn’t matter what our vocation is. It matters how professionally we fulfill our duties and tasks.

What have the experts stated?
  • "The professional must learn to be moved and touched emotionally, yet at the same time stand back objectively: I've seen a lot of damage done by tea and sympathy.” - Anthony Storr, English author
  • My professional life has been a constant record of disillusion, and many things that seem wonderful to most men are the every-day commonplaces of my business.” - Harry Houdini, Hungarian entertainer
  • I rate enthusiasm even above professional skill.” - Edward Appleton, English scientist
  • Professional reviewers read so many bad books in the course of duty that they get an unhealthy craving for arresting phrases.” - Evelyn Waugh, English author
  • Most professional players are their own biggest critics. Some of the things you read in the papers that strike you as bang out of order will already have been thought by the players themselves.” - Rio Ferdinand

Now, a few more that are quite specific:

  • By the time I was 22, I was a professional. A young and flawed professional, but not an amateur.” - Stephen Sondheim, American composer
  • I took a professional gamble leaving Hollywood, knowing I would be out of the loop. I'm not part of the movie world in-crowd right now.” - Chevy Chase, American comedian
  • I've made a wonderful living playing that theatrical character - the professional brassy dame.” - Ethel Merman, American musician
  • Professional golf is the only sport where, if you win 20% of the time, you're the best.” - Jack Nicklaus, American athlete
  • So I had to be careful. I recognized the responsibility that, whether I liked it or not, I had to accept whatever the obligation was. That was to behave in a manner, to carry myself in such a professional way, as if there ever is a reflection, it's a positive one.” - Sidney Poitier, American actor

How do you rate on the professionalism scale? As you know by now, I feel that the importance of being a professional in all we do and say is super important.

The main professional responsibility of a person in business is business.” - Lee R. Raymond, American businessman

When it comes to professionalism, it makes sense to talk about being professional in IT. Standards are vital so that IT professionals can provide systems that last.” - Tim Berners-Lee, English inventor

The two previous quotations hold particular messages for me! Let me hear from you. I love to have your reactions.