I went on and on in the last post about the movie My Favorite Year. I found myself comparing that movie to another of my favorites (My list is called the Top Whatever because I’m afraid to limit myself to five or ten or whatever). The movie I compared it to was Casablanca. Now hold on. Don’t click away from me. They do share a kinship. Take a look.
Both movies could have been duds. One could have become nothing more than slapstick and farce. The other could have been just another of hundreds of wartime melodramas. But they didn’t. Why not? Because they were created by professionals. Both production companies were littered with professional actors, directors, writers, producers, cameramen, set decorators. etc. None of them out to make a name for themselves. All of them just focused on doing their jobs the best they knew how. They were professionals.
You see it all the time. It’s most obvious is on sports teams. ‘We just clicked’ they say when asked how they did it. As if it was serendipity. It just happened. But it didn’t just happen. I came about because some team members decided to forget personal glory and play for the team. To work for something bigger than themselves. They decided to be professionals.
What’s the definition of professional?
You can be called a professional if you get paid. Many, many, many (ok that’s enough ‘many”s. They get it.) years ago you could lose your amateur standing in the USGA if you won a prize valued at more than $200. The NCAA goes to great lengths to determine if a athlete is getting paid. You can be considered a professional if you get paid.
You will be considered a professional if you have spent years perfecting the necessary skills to excel in your chosen field. Mastery will cause people to consider you a professional.
But you can be professional without getting paid, without years or study and practice. A professional attitude does not require a degree, years of training, a title, recognized accomplishments, or monetary success. It’s just an attitude. Anybody can have an attitude. And you get to decide what kind of attitude you will have. A professional attitude means doing your job the best you know how whether anybody notices or not. It means working to improve you skills and knowledge. It means paying attention to detail. It means owning up to your mistakes and taking steps to insure they don’t happen again. It means making your contribution to something bigger than yourself.
A professional attitude may not get you paid what you’re worth. It may not get you recognition and awards. But it will be rewarded. Rewarded with peace and satisfaction.