Professionalism is relentless dedication towards a task, job, project, cause or even a loved one or group. It wouldn’t necessarily consist of a hairdo, nor the car one drives. Although commonly mistaken, professionalism wouldn’t necessarily include politeness nor courteous behavior. It wouldn’t per se include strictness.

Professionalism might include being smartly dressed. It might equally be the unshaven, blue-collar mechanic, who despite being financially broke, refuses to take any form of payment for partial or incomplete work, as such would compromise their personal integrity.

The definition of Professionalism breaks down into the following pieces: ‘Profession’ originally came from Latin meaning ‘a public declaration’ – in middle English, it was a vow that someone made when they entered a religious order. ‘-al’ is a suffix used to form nouns, and it chiefly denotes ‘Action’. ‘-ism’ is a suffix to also form nouns denoting ‘Action’, but also ‘a system, principal or ideological movement’.

Armed with infallible ethical virtues, professionalism would undoubtedly maintain a certain unswerving and uncompromising personal integrity. Professionalism however represents the best in us all. True professionals are unreasonable, and would seldom, if never, compromise with unreasonable influences. Such an individual sees the world in how it should be, versus what others dictate, and seeks to make it so. True professionalism would never be a prestidigitation or sham. Professionalism is unswerving ownership and responsibility. Professionalism is a high-level, almost spiritual, trait.

Professionalism would determine the best course of action based on the greatest good of those involved or present conditions, and not just seek personal gain. Money and status, interestingly enough, has very little to do with professionalism. I believe we all have met some who maintained the appearance of superiority and professionalism, yet engaged in sordid activities for personal benefit. No price tag or status could ever be associated with true professionalism.

Professionalism and dedication could be confused as analogous terms & traits. Dedication might be defined as a continuous and courageous address on a particular course or path. However, this could be a destructive path. Case in point, Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich. They were adamantly bent on destructive purposes. Many other noted historical cases can be found to have been less than virtuous. Certainly on a less destructive path, areas of Corporate America are known for their involvements in significant waste and/or destruction, where but a few benefit from questionable ethical business practices. On a smaller scale, as a 20 year consultant, I’ve witnessed dozens of wasteful (very expensive) projects go to complete pot for lack of diligence, followed by political or bureaucratic subterfuge and CYA. I think we all have witnessed such waste! Although dedicated, this is far from professionalism.

Professionals seek to improve those and conditions around them. They would not stand idly by where matters need to be set right. Professionals are busy and productive. Those who exhibit professionalism are extremely valuable to have in one’s life. They enhance the very core of survival for our families, our groups and certainly mankind. Those who do not can be poisonous to our very existence. Remove such poisonous influence from your life, and prevent them from interacting with others in your vicinity.

Here are but a few Professionalism traits:

  • Is self-learning
  • Is ethical
  • Is never afraid of consequences
  • Is prideful, but not arrogant
  • Formulates new paths and directions based on present-time evaluations and conditions
  • Is courageous despite difficult or challenging odds
  • Is dedicated to their job or mission
  • Refuses to blame others or make excuses
  • Maintains ownership for both side of the game
  • Maintains an unreasonable disposition towards mistakes
  • Has confidence in their abilities
  • Refuses to let others dilute or alloy intentions or purposes

Warmest Regards,

SHAWN MAY – DTS Inc. | Principal Architect & CEO