The historical meaning of the word ‘professional’ dates back to the 1400’s and is from the Latin root profiteri (pro – before + fateri to acknowledge). As workers became more specialized in their trade, they began to ‘profess’ their skill to others and ‘vow’ to perform their craft to the highest known standards of excellence. In an effort to differentiate themselves from amateurs, professionals also made public commitments ‘to practice a skill or action repeatedly in order to acquire, improve or maintain proficiency.’ That’s why the legal and medical professionals began calling their work ‘practices.’
Amateurs can do amazing work but their efforts are inconsistent. Their actions are contingent on how they feel. Their work is more of a hobby than a profession. Professionals are committed to making each day their masterpiece. Their actions are based on their commitment to being the best they are capable of being, even if they don’t feel like doing what needs to be done. Professionals know they can’t accomplish anything worthwhile if they only work on the days they feel like it.
Take a moment to reflect on these words from the legendary basketball coach, John Wooden, on making each day a masterpiece:
“When I was teaching basketball, I urged my players to try their hardest to improve on that very day, to make that practice a masterpiece. Too often we get distracted by what is outside our control. You can’t do anything about yesterday. The door to the past has been shut and the key thrown away. You can do nothing about tomorrow. It is yet to come. However, tomorrow is in large part determined by what you do today. So make today a masterpiece. You have control over that. This rule is even more important in life than basketball. By applying yourself to the task of becoming a little better each and every day over a period of time, you will become a lot better. Only then will you be able to approach being the best you can be. It begins by trying to make each day count and knowing you can never make up for a lost day.”
What does your masterpiece day look like? What can you do today that will help you perform your calling to the highest known standards of excellence?
The decision to turn pro happens in an instant. You don’t have to wait till you’re ready or for someone else to draft you. Being professional is a choice you make daily. However, you can’t do it alone. Professionals need coaches dedicated to helping them move out of their comfort zone and do the hard work required to turn their talents into strengths.
The second greatest thing about turning pro is the pleasure you get from knowing you did your best to perform well under pressure. The most significant benefit from living your life as a professional is the influence you have on co-workers, clients and family members who want to follow your example.
Let’s Get Better. Together! Bill Durkin