Streamline - Summer 2013 - (Page 45)
BY MICHAEL JOHNSON
How to be “Professional”
wE hEAR ThAT word constantly. From the first minute we enter the workplace, we hear, “Be profes-
sional.” What does that really mean? If we asked 10 people to define the word, I bet we would get
eleven different answers. Here’s the dictionary’s definition:
It’s not what you
are. It’s who you
Professional: a person paid to undertake a
specialized set of tasks and complete them for a
fee. Traditional professions were doctors, lawyers,
engineers, clergymen, architects, and commissioned military officers. Today the term is applied
to nurses, accountants, educators, engineers,
scientists, technology experts, social workers,
artists, actors, golfers and cowboys who rodeo
And there is a final paragraph:
“Due to the personal and confidential nature
of many professional services – thus the necessity to place a great deal of trust in them – most
“professionals” are subject to codes of conduct
resulting in strict moral and ethical obligations.”
Man, that sounds good. From definitions like
those above (and our own internal sense of what
a professional really is) we come to believe that
whether a person is “professional” depends on
what they do or what line of work they are in.
The job title determines if a person is stamped
“professional.” Right? Wrong.
All of the above is absolutely worthless. (Sorry
for having wasted your time.)
None of those words help us determine if
someone is truly professional – and that is a sad
thing…and an important thing.
During our years of formal education in high
school and college, we come away from that experience assuming we know what “professional”
means – and we never question that definition.
It’s only later that we learn what the word really
After becoming so old (so quickly, it seems
now) and working for myself for a number of
years, I have a completely different way of thinking about the entire subject. I wish I had thought
about it a great deal more – and much sooner – in
my life, because my teaching would have had
more value for students, and Lord forgive me…
I might have been a better person.
Being professional has little to do with someone’s title. After all, we know of Wall Street
bankers who must certainly have all sorts of
codes of conduct and moral obligations – but
how many do we know who actually live by
them? And we can say the same for some doctors,
lawyers, engineers and all the accountants who
worked for Enron. Is a football player who head
butts his wife a professional? Is a doctor who
schedules unnecessary surgery a professional?
Let’s say a building contractor (a professional
building contractor) does half what he said he
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Streamline - Summer 2013
From the President
From the Executive Director
Generators – Learning from the Past
Does the End Justify the Means?
Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet!
How is Serving on a Board of an Organization like Owning a Car?
Monitoring Master Meters
2013 Conference Highlights
OilClean from EcoSolutions Naturally Separates Oil from Water
Choosing a Rate Analyst
Ergs, Joules and Other Stuff
Snug and Smug with Solar Power
Fresh Faces: Joey Fagan
Throwing My Loop
Do You Know What Your VRWA Benefits Are?
Welcome New Members
Board of Directors
Index to Advertisers/Ad.com
Streamline - Summer 2013