I was recently looking at an earlier time in my career in the 90’s and the word “professionalism” came up. I wanted to make sure I had the correct meaning so I looked it up in the dictionary and there were many definitions. So many in fact that I now know how this can be a confusing subject.  I scrolled down and finally I found the one that applied “a person who is expert at his or her work”.

I took a look at this particular time in my career and realized that I had fallen short of this definition.  Being an expert at something means that you know all that you need to in that area so that you can be the best.  It means studying about the subject, applying what you have learned, seeing something to the end.  Certainly not taking shortcuts and if you are in management leading the group that you have said that you would lead.  In essence, it means taking full responsibility for all areas.

Now when you operate at this level you can’t help but be successful.  As I reflected on this time in my career I realized that this was the only time and I stress only time in a career that has spanned over 35 years that this wasn’t the case.  I failed miserably!  You see I knew that I wasn’t operating at the level that I needed to be at. So, as I moved forward in this position things that I received I really didn’t feel worthy of. Now there is an interesting phenomenon about this when you know that you haven’t really earned something or don’t feel worthy of it stops you from performing at your best.  You’re always wondering does someone else know. So, during this time in my career not only did I fail miserably at the job, I also felt that I wasn’t worthy of a lot of things in my life.

I always say that our professional and personal lives are connected and how you operate in either transcends into the other.  Now looking back there were definitely somethings that I could have done differently that would have changed the outcome.  Was this a learning lesson, absolutely.  Even though at the time I didn’t recognize all of this I did move forward with the attitude that anything that I undertook I needed to be a professional.  For me that has meant not only learning my job but the job of others around me. I have taken responsibility for being a leader and the impact that it has on others.

When I take a look at our top athletes or anyone for that matter at the top of their industry there is one thing they all have in common they are professionals “a person who is expert at his or her work”.

So, I challenge you to ask yourself, are you operating as a professional in what you are doing? And if the answer is no, or not totally then take a look at what you need to do differently. That is the difference between mediocrity and SUCCESS!

The Way to Happiness is a common sense guide to better living with 21 precepts. Precepts 6, 15, 16 & 17 show you how to use professionalism in your life.

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