Professionalism

Foreword: The list I have compiled is not a definitive explanation of the term, but rather a summation of personal insight.

Characteristics of professionalism

Understanding

There can be no professionalism without an understanding of the field one is in. Among other things, understanding means comprehensive knowledge of the information in the field at hand. There is a need to distinguish between the important issues and the less important ones, as well as having the knowledge of action in order to achieve superior results within the limits of human capabilities.

Noticing the small details

(or insisting on fine tuning)

Even if everyone engaged in a certain field has access to the main boulevard of knowledge and understanding in that field, the difference between a professional and a non-professional, will manifest itself in the ability to insist on small details and nuances. Understanding of these details is the result of noticing an array of details, and the “small details” at that.

Even if the majority of those engaged in the field find it easy to understand or to acknowledge the clear details or basic understandings, only a minority has the urge to act and reach the maximal level of understanding, this is probably due to the high price of doing so (see next paragraph). It must be stressed, that a someone with an understanding will be able to distinguish the important details from the non-important ones only after reviewing all the details at hand, “small details” included, and considered every one of them. Insisting on understanding and executing the small details allows emphasizing important ones, and it is this, which creates the difference between achieving an 80%result and one, which is 90-100%.

It can be said relating to this point that professionalism cannot be taken lightly.

Persistence

There can be no professionalism without persistence. Professionalism cannot be random, passing or limited to a single act, but rather must be consistent and as such, measured over time.

A value that stands for itself

Yet another characteristic of professionalism is seeing it as a value that stands for itself. The urge to act professionally comes from grasping professionalism as an independent value and not as a means for attaining another goal.

The price of professionalism

Investing resources

Much time and many resources are required in order to become professional. Since persistence is necessary, investing resources must be done regularly. What this means, is that in order to be professional, you pay a price by investing many resources that otherwise could have been geared to other things. An example of one main resource is time. Professionalism requires much time that could have been used in a different way, such as spending time with family or friends, doing other hobbies, or just resting.

Reactions from the surroundings

Even if the immediate circle of professionals knows how to appreciate it, many times the broader circle of those who are in the field will have trouble accepting a professional, whether because of envy due to the inability to reach that same level of professionalism (the professionalism of the professional emphasizes a lack of professionalism in others), or because of other reasons.

Due to this, the professional can find himself lonely, since he works according to his professional truth and his professional standards, which may be different from those of people around him. Thus, he may reach different results, conclusions and understandings than those of most people, whether in the same field or not. This difference may lead to a negative attitude of surrounding people towards the professional, and in extreme cases even ignoring or out casting the professional. There seems to be a general human inclination towards conformism, a difficulty accepting ideas and understandings different from popular belief.

This and more: Due to the resources invested by the professional, there will at times be close circles that are not professional – family, for example – that will feel neglected or offended. It must be remembered that most people are not professionals, and so, investing a lot of time and receiving professional results are strange to them, and they are unwilling to pay the price. This does not mean that all of these people are inappreciative of professionalism, though they are not always willing to pay the price required for associating with a professional.

Summary

Understanding, insisting on detail and persistence are characteristics of professionalism as well as the conditions for it. The price of professionalism is investing resources, and, at times, a negative reaction from the surroundings, which may, in extreme cases lead to loneliness.

15/06/2007