Being professional is more than just wearing a tie and pretending you have your shit together. It has nothing to do with what you are wearing. Mike Rowe is highly professional and I’ve never seen him in a tie. Donald Trump wears nothing but ties.
What does being a professional even entail? The dictionary says that if you get paid for something then you’re a professional. Well, I have a YouTube channel about goaltending. A small company sponsored me and gave me a set of gloves (shout out to Freccia Sport) and I’ve made 32 cents in ad revenue. Technically that makes me a professional goalkeeper, but Joe Hart I am not. So that’s a pretty useless definition, even if I do say I’m a professional goalkeeper at parties.
It’s hard to tell in print, but this article has been a struggle to write. I’ve deleted a lot of the paragraphs I tried to shoehorn into this piece. Being professional is not the most tangible skill to describe. If you plug ‘how to be professional’ into Google you’ll get a lot of practical tips from grooming to competence. They’re all good tips to mimic the outward signs of professionalism, but not the best to tell you how to be professional, day in, day out.
It comes down to how you treat other people and their time.
Do you come to people with problems expecting them to walk you through a solution or do you come to someone with a problem and your solution to it? Do you give credit to other people when their ideas and work make you better or do you take the glory? Do you demean people who aren’t as good or help them get to your level? Do you bitch about your co-workers, with other co-workers while at work?
Don’t do that. Any of it. It’s the worst.
Actually being professional is not something you can follow 10 easy steps and master. Are you a good friend? A good sport? A good partner? The same communication and interpersonal skills that make you a good person to be around will also make you professional. It requires brutal honesty with yourself and awareness of what you are doing and how you come across to others.
It’s really hard to constantly be professional, so while you’re working on that every day, maybe just don’t show up to work drunk. That’s a much easier starting place.