Professional Attitude

Series: The ABC’s of Professionalism

“Professionalism” is one of those words that’s rather hard to define. Consequently, people have different viewpoints on what characteristics constitute professionalism. Let’s explore.

“Believe passionately in what you do, and never knowingly compromise your standards and values. Act like a true professional, aiming for true excellence, and the money will follow.”
— David Maister (1947- ), business management consultant. The Advice Business: Essential Tools and Models for Management Consulting, Chapter 23.

“…a professional is someone who can do his best work when he doesn’t feel like it.”
— Alistair Cooke (1945- ), British-born American journalist, broadcaster. Six Men, 1995, p. 136.

At first glance, these quotations might appear somewhat at odds with each other and yet, I think they both define different moments of professionalism. It is not contradictory to have an enduring passion about one’s career and not feel like engaging in that passion at a particular moment.

So, what is professionalism or perhaps, what is it NOT? By my thinking, professionalism has nothing to do with the profession — it’s all about the person …

“Professionalism: It’s NOT the job you DO, It’s HOW you DO the job.”
— Anonymous

“The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy…neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.”
— John W. Gardner (1912-2002), president of the Carnegie Corporation.

… it’s not about the payment …

“You have to perform at a consistently higher level than others. That’s the mark of a true professional. Professionalism has nothing to do with getting paid for your services.”
— Attributed to: Joe Paterno (1926- ), Penn State University football coach.  Strategic Outsourcing, by Maurice F. Greaver, 1999.

… and it’s not about conforming to arbitrary standards.

“Professionalism is not about adherence to the policies of a bureaucracy. Professionalism is about having the integrity, honesty, and sincere regard for the personhood of the customer, in the context of always doing what is best for the business. Those two things do not need to be in conflict.”
— Eric Lippert, software expert, author.  25 Jun 2008 at:
< blogs.msdn.com/ericlippert/archive/2008/06/23/customer-service-is-not-rocket-science-part-two.aspx >

Your GPS
Professionalism consists of certain attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors sometimes known collectively as “virtue” or “good character.” Attitudes and behaviors have two things in common. First, both are produced by our beliefs. Second, we have the power to choose our attitudes and behaviors.

“We choose what attitudes we have right now. And it’s a continuing choice.”
— John C. Maxwell (1947- ), American author, speaker, minister. The Maxwell Daily Reader, 2008, p. 58.

As mere humans, we are hindered from peering into the minds and hearts of others to gage their professionalism. Fair or not, character judgments are made from outward signs such as what people say and do (i.e. behaviors). Only God can look inside to know a person’s attitudes.

“…Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
— Bible, 1 Samuel 16:7

“Behavior is a mirror in which every one displays his own image.”

— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), German author, philosopher. Novels and Tales by Goethe, 1868, p. 153.

“We judge others by their behavior. We judge ourselves by our intentions.”
— Attributed to: Ian Percy, motivational speaker.

“Our names are labels, plainly printed on the bottled essence of our past behaviour.”
— Logan Pearsall Smith (1865-1946), American essayist, critic. All Trivia: Trivia, More Trivia,
Afterthoughts, Last Words
, 1934, p. 162.

Knowing we cannot see inside a person’s heart, it is important to remain humble and guarded when judging the character of others with partial information. For ourselves, it is important to understand that judging behavior is the very thing that others will do about us. In fact, there are those who wait in ambush and will pounce unmercifully at the first sign of moral indiscretion.

As we develop understanding of our own professional development needs we must not become fixated on the outward behaviors at the expense of the inner attitudes and beliefs. Consider the most fundamental relationship among beliefs, attitudes,  and behaviors:  beliefs are the causes of our attitudes, which in turn cause our behaviors.

“… human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.”
— William James (1842-1910), American psychologist, philosopher.

This fundamental cause and effect principle of humanity states that improvements in our values are required to produce improvements in behaviors. Unfortunately, there is the temptation to go straight to the behavior, bypassing the beliefs and attitudes.

“If you want to change attitudes, start with a change in behavior. In other words, begin to act the part, as well as you can, of the person you would rather be, the person you most want to become. Gradually, the old, fearful person will fade away.”
— Attributed to: William Glasser (1925- ), American psychiatrist.

While it is accurate to recognize that the roles can be reversed as Glasser proposed, the effect is temporary at best. Real, change that sticks, good or bad, comes from new attitudes. To be more precise, real change happens only when beliefs change.

Becoming a professional is an attitude adjustment process that begins by understanding what it means to be a professional, creating a personal vision of professionalism, and aligning one’s values in accordance with that image. Another way to say this is “change on the outside begins on the inside.” If you were to understand professionalism, then claim it as your set of personal values, where would you start to begin your professional tune-up? A good place is with the attitude called “respect” and a person must start by respecting himself.

“Self-respect – that cornerstone of all virtue.”
— John Herschel (1792-1871), English mathematician, astronomer, chemist.

“The way to procure insults is to submit to them. A man meets with no more respect than he exacts.”
— William Hazlitt (1778-1830), English writer.

Professionalism also insists on respect toward others, explained best by “The Golden Rule.”

“For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
— Bible, Galatians 5:14

“Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them.”
— Bible, Luke 6:31

Building professionalism also requires courage, the attitude that conquers fear.

“Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because, … it is the quality which guarantees all others.”
— Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965), British Prime Minister. Maxims and R
eflections, 2005, p. 169.

Fear is an emotion manufactured in the imagination. The best proof of this is found by observing the differences in what people are afraid of. If fear was instinctive, genetic, or the product of rational thought, shouldn’t we all fear pretty much the same things?

“Some people are afraid of heights. I’m afraid of widths.”
— Steven Wright (1955- ), American comedian, actor, writer.

Fear can be tamed and it can be conquered. History is full of examples of ordinary people who became heroes merely by confronting their fears. How does one take action while in fear’s shadow?

“Courage is fear that has said its prayers.”
— Dorothy Bernard (1890-1955), American actress of silent movie era.

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.”
— Attributed to: Ambrose Redmoon (1933-1996), Hippie, writer.

“Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.”
— Susan Jeffers, Inspirational writer, speaker. < http://www.susanjeffers.com >

It’s time for those who care about professionalism to stop being amazed at timidity, lack of respect, and other unprofessional attitudes in today’s culture. It’s time to do something about it, one person at a time. Who should be the first person on your list? You! If the adage is true, “actions speak louder than words,” doing nothing more than becoming a living example of professionalism may be all that is needed. If enough people make that choice and commitment, our world will be changed for the better. Life is short — it’s time to get busy.

“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”
— Attributed to: Zig Ziglar (1926- ), American author, salesman, and motivational speaker.

“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,”
— Bible, Colossians 3:23

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact attitude has on life. Attitude to me is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company…a church…a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for the day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you. We are in charge of our attitudes.
— Attributed to: Charles R. Swindoll (1934- ), evangelical Christian pastor, author, educator, radio preacher.
< storiesfortrainers.com/attitudepoem.aspx >

God bless,

— CC

[ Index | B=Behavior ]

© Copyright March 2009, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
Read more “Clancy’s Quotes” at: ClancyCross.WordPress.com

Optimize Your Optimism

The ABC’s of Professionalism

Do you remember Winnie the Pooh’s friends Tigger and Eeyore? These characters could be used to teach a seminar on optimism and pessimism.

“It’s snowing still,” said Eeyore gloomily.
“So it is.”
“And freezing.”
“Is it?”
“Yes,” said Eeyore. “However,” he said, brightening up a little, “we haven’t had an earthquake lately.”

— A.A. Milne (1882-1956), “The House at Pooh Corner”, p. 11.

Tigger: Come on, Rabbit. Let’s you and me bounce.
Rabbit: Good heavens! Me bounce?
Tigger: Why, certainly! Look, you’ve got the feet for it.
Rabbit: I have?
Tigger: Sure. Come on, try it. It makes ya feel just grrreat!

— Walt Disney’s “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” (animated film), 1977.

Probably the most familiar description of optimism is a comparison to its opposite using a glass that is half full of water. To the optimist it is half full – the pessimist sees it as half empty. Some hold a different understanding of these terms.

“We have been taught to believe that negative equals realistic and positive equals unrealistic.” — Susan Jeffers

If so, how can the very same glass be unrealistic to one and realistic to another? They are both the same glass of water. The view Jeffers describes could only originate from someone with the mindset that we live in a world where outcomes are generally unfavorable.

“The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true.” — James Branch Cabell (1879-1958), The Silver Stallion, 1926

By the way, what causes pessimists to think they need to “save” the optimists?

“An optimist may see a light where there is none, but why must the pessimist always run to blow it out? — Rene Descartes

An optimist, coming from a different emotional universe, has a more positive perspective. Good or bad, he makes the best of every situation and is more productive and happier because of it.

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” — Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

“I will say this about being an optimist– even when things don’t turn out well, you are certain they will get better.” — Frank Hughes

“All the days of the afflicted are evil, But he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast.” — Bible, Proverbs 15:15

The current downturn and volatility of the stock market along with other economic uncertainty has many people stirred up to the point of panic. Not so with one of my optimistic friends who admitted to being behind in his long-term investment goals. He correctly recognized this situation for what it is – a HUGE opportunity to catch up. Stocks-based investments are on sale at 1989 prices!

An optimist goes on an adventure, while the pessimist stays home. Maybe this is a good thing. We need people to “mind the store” while the rest of us are out living life. Great leaders are optimists. Their optimism was not the result of their climb to the top — it was the cause. They go a step further, by their inspiration.

“For myself I am an optimist – it does not seem to be much use being anything else.” — Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965), speech at the Lord Mayor’s banquet, London, November 9, 1954

“The American, by nature, is optimistic. He is experimental, an inventor and a builder who builds best when called upon to build greatly.” — John F. Kennedy (1917-1963)

“I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life … in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.” — Ronald Reagan (1911-2004), Farewell Address, January 11, 1989

How can someone become more optimistic? It starts with a decision. Yes, it is possible to decide today to become more optimistic. Here are five steps to get you started.

1) Take a personal inventory — Write down all of your blessings. Focus only on the positive. If you’re pessimistic, you’ve spent enough time and effort dwelling on the negative. Post your list of blessings on your bathroom mirror, by your bed and other prominent places. Add to your list regularly.

“This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.” — Bible, Psalm 118:24

“Praise the LORD! Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” — Psalm 106:1

2) Seek God’s help daily — Develop your new positive attitude through prayer. Give thanks for each item on your list of blessings. Seek forgiveness for your mistakes. Ask God for strength, wisdom and guidance.

“He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.”

— Bible, Isaiah 40:29,31

3) Purge the negative thoughts — Throw away the negative stuff cluttering your mind. Write down your liabilities, barriers and excuses. Then tear them up and burn the pieces – literally! The next time you catch yourself thinking a negative thought, take a moment to remember that purging process.

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” — Bible, Romans 8:31

4) Fill your mind with positive thoughts — Without the negativity there is room for positive thoughts. Make good choices for what you read, listen to, and watch on television. Put driving time to good use — turn your car into a university on wheels. Even if you can’t feel it, your mind is hungry, too. Feed it daily!

“Pity the man who has a favorite restaurant, but not a favorite author.” — Jim Rohn (1930- ), Weekly Ezine, Issue 48 – July 26, 2000

“Before you change your thinking, you have to change what goes into your mind.” — Zig Ziglar (1926- )

5) Reinforce your positive thoughts — Start using positive language. Practice it until it becomes a habit.

Friend: “How’s it going?”
You: “OK, I guess.”

This type of response is no longer acceptable. Only words like good, great, and fabulous are worthy of an optimist.

“Repetition of the same thought or physical action develops into a habit which, repeated frequently enough, becomes an automatic reflex.” — Norman Vincent Peale (1898-1993)

Follow the program and you will enjoy the results. Here are some of the things you can expect from your new attitude:

“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.” — Willie Nelson (1933- )

“Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.” — Colin Powell (1937- )

“A strong positive mental attitude will create more miracles than any wonder drug.” — Patricia Neal (1926- )

“The positive thinker sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.” — Anonymous

“An optimist is the human personification of spring.” — Susan J. Bissonette

Have a fabulous day!

God bless,

— CC

[ N=Netiquette | Index | P/Q=P’s and Q’s ]

© Copyright November 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
Read more “Clancy’s Quotes” at: ClancyCross.WordPress.com

F.E.A.R.

Does fear protect us from harm? Possibly. A case can be made that some fears are good protectors but, not all. How many great experiences and incredible opportunities have been missed because of unreasonable, nonsensical fears?

Fear is an emotion manufactured in the imagination. The best proof of this is found by observing the differences in what people are afraid of. If fear was instinctive or the product of rational thought, shouldn’t we all fear pretty much the same things?

“Some people are afraid of heights. I’m afraid of widths.” — Steven Wright

“For the most part, fear is nothing but an illusion. When you share it with someone else, it tends to disappear.” — Marilyn C. Barrick

“FEAR is an acronym in the English language for ‘False Evidence Appearing Real'” — Neale Donald Walsch

There is a relationship between fear and negative thoughts similar to the chicken and egg quandary. It’s hard to say which came first. Which is the cause and which is the effect?

“Fear is that little darkroom where negatives are developed.” — Michael Pritchard

“Fear is the tax that conscience pays to guilt.” — George Sewell

Fear is a favorite subject for movies and television because it makes for good drama and better comedy. The cowardly Lion from the “Wizard of Oz” may be the most well-known icon of fear. The main character in the television show “Monk” is a caricature of fear. Amusing dialog and plot twists are based on his personal catalog of fears. The movie “What About Bob?” is one of my favorite comedies.

“The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true.” — James Branch Cabell, The Silver Stallion, 1926

“There are many who dare not kill themselves for fear of what the neighbors will say.” — Cyril Connolly (1903 – 1974)

Fear can be a powerful motivator.

“Courage is the fear of being thought a coward.” — Horace Smith

“To use fear as the friend it is, we must retrain and reprogram ourselves…We must persistently and convincingly tell ourselves that the fear is here, with its gift of energy and heightened awareness, so we can do our best and learn the most in the new situation.” — Peter McWilliams, Life 101

Fear can be tamed and it can be conquered. History is full of examples of ordinary people who became heroes merely by beating down their fears.

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” — Ambrose Redmoon

“Fear not that thy life shall come to an end, but rather fear that it shall never have a beginning.” — John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801 – 1890)

“Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make you a far happier and more productive person.” — Dr. David M. Burns

“Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.” — Book by Susan Jeffers

“The central struggle of parenthood is to let our hopes for our children outweigh our fears.” — Ellen Goodman

“He has not learned the lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Courage is fear that has said its prayers.” — Dorothy Bernard

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to pick a fear, any fear, and challenge it before the week is over. Then, brag about it to your best friend.

God bless,

— CC

© Copyright June 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
Read more “Clancy’s Quotes” at: ClancyCross.WordPress.com