On turning pro

I usually get annoyed when my friends/peers share their thoughts on what it takes to be a thorough professional. I honestly think it’s a waste of time arguing about such an inane topic. What’s the point? Our ideals don’t really match up to the professionals who’re out there in the field. Ourselves included.

But having worked with (and observed) many professionals, I couldn’t help but notice patterns that make them so special. Professionals:

  1. Learn to keep the goal, the goal: Too often we switch from one task to the other based on other people’s agenda (emails?). That’s highly inefficient. I think the best strategy is to plan out in advance before getting sucked into your inbox. Other people’s agenda should not be driving your life. Even if all the tasks on your to-do list belong to them. You decide how to prioritize and act on them.
  2. Manage priorities, not time: Qualifying the important tasks from the not-so-important ones to seem more practical than mindlessly striking off tasks from my to-do list. Also, when you manage priorities you develop an awareness of your energy and schedule your priorities accordingly, helping you get the most important work out of your way before giving attention to other tasks in the list.
  3. Lead the field: While amateurs talk about niching down to a super-specialty, a professional reflects on what will it take to excel in this “field” of interest. They go from broad to narrow. The aim is to attain mastery while keeping to move forward. Constant and never-ending improvement is their motto. It doesn’t end with just a certification. They live, breathe, eat and sleep what they’re the most passionate about.
  4. Have Patience: Comedian Jerry Seinfeld’s advice to up and coming comics was to write a joke every day. Slog at it. Don’t break the cycle, just keep at it. Eventually, you can’t help but become better. Patience is the name of the game. It’s the process of going through the motions that make you better not the destination. Being aware of this helps you be miles ahead of others.

I can’t imagine anyone having the above core traits and not winning in life, business or relationships. Of course, we may not have them all (I surely don’t!) but it’s nice to be aware of our shortcomings and start working towards it.

Remember, the goal is to keep the goal, the goal.