Years ago I heard someone make a distinction between being a professional and just having a job. It’s stuck with me all this time.
He said, a professional is someone who doesn’t just do work to make money, but who inhabits a business role in order to help people. They are the ones who become expert in their field, don’t jump from one job to another, and who by simply being themselves can offer products or services to the public in a business or organizational context.
Scientists are like this. They certainly make money to live, but that’s incidental to the fact that they are scientists. I know many financial service providers who are this way too. And let’s not forget all the educators; they certainly are professionals rather than just doing a job.
So, on this Friday, I ask about your view of what you do for a living. Are you doing it to make money - which is obviously a legitimate part of any endeavor - or are you doing it more because you are a professional. Is what you do for a living WHO you are? Or, do you change who you are depending on the situation to make a living.
In reality, these things can’t always be helped, especially when the economy is down. We don’t always have total control.
However, as an intellectual exercise, my view is the market can tell somehow when we’re just trying to make a living, rather than being a professional. There’s something about the seriousness with which we conduct business and our interactions that conveys one or the other.
I’m not really making a specific point today per se, just raising the topic. I like to think about the professional versus having a job divergence now and again. In fact, maybe it’s just my way of continually checking on myself, to see if I’m being a professional or not, and acting like one every day, as best I can!