Friday, August 28, 2009

What is Being Professional? Another Angle!

Friday morning musings...

As fall approaches, this is often the time of year where we re-visit and re-vamp our schedules, our lives, and re-organize our desks, our closets (!!) and the like!!

As we move into the audition season, the theatre season, the school season - there are always questions, or should be!  How do you want to be seen? How do you want to re-invent yourself? How are you starting fresh?

The question of professionalism has come up many times in my world over the past week in all kinds of interesting places.  It is an ongoing query and something that morphs and grows with you as you pursue your craft and your discipline.  Being a professional and "being professional" and "professionalism" all have very personal definitions and often it can be made to be confusing.

Several months ago I wrote a blog entry discussing the professionalism of having your team around you as you build your craft.  This is another step or another thought.

First, we must be willing and able to see ourselves honestly and question ourselves honestly. Self-deception and entitlement is very common in our business.  Mediocrity is rampant. That means there are MANY in our business on BOTH sides of the table who do not know how to be honest - are unwilling and/or unable to do so - and work very hard not to be found out.  If all one's energy is put into deception and self-deception there is no way real talent/real professionalism/real growth can develop.

How do we possibly walk the mine-field and step through and around the cesspool?

I believe that if we have the capacity for self-discovery, honesty, questioning, growth, and yes, even doubt, we have the capacity to demand from ourselves the very best, and in turn, learn how to demand from our business the same.  If we continue to encourage and enable entitlement, mediocrity, poor behavior - or worse - ignore it or have a neutral response to it, we become a part of the problem and allow it to flourish.  

If we are willing to demand an honesty of others, we must be willing to see the honesty of ourselves.  As a professional,  we must demand the best of ourselves.  We must find that.  What is our best destiny?  Have we developed our craft/our discipline?  Are we really where we need to be? Do we have the people around us not to enable us, but who can be honest in their assessment of our ability?  

Why do you do what you do? Answer honestly!!! DISCOVER that answer! 

How do you treat others? How do you want to be treated? How much experience do you have in your craft? Life experience? Have you learned anything yet?

We live in a world where entitlement is rampant.  Just because you want it, doesn't mean you should have it.  Just because you THINK you want to be a singer or an actor (or anything else for that matter), doesn't mean you have the talent, the fortitude, the drive, the passion, the personality or aptitude to BE one.  Why do you want to DO this/BE this?  All important questions you must develop and answer for yourself.  

Being professional is a CHOICE of HOW you live and respond within your craft, your discipline and your business.  Some choose to live and respond unprofessionally within their profession.  These are the impostors and the posers and the entitled.  These are the ones trying hard not to be found out.  The irony of course, is everybody who is real, sees it.  The only ones being deceived are the enablers and the impostors themselves.

CHOOSING to behave professionally, means taking time to explore not just your craft/knowledge/discipline and your expertise of that discipline, but how you develop your BEHAVIOR within that expertise.  Professionalism does not encourage entitlement, but rather, encourages a truth and a sense of self.  It creates and develops an honest assessment of what the self can do and what it is striving to do. It asks questions - by researching and learning what questions to ask!  It treats others with the respect they deserve as human beings, and at the same time, challenging them to discover the best of themselves.  It creates boundaries of behavior and expectation. It is strong, precise, clear, aware and recognizes where it stands.  It does not pretend.  It does not play games.  It is REAL.  

Anything less is another "reality" show!  

If we start demanding from ourselves a professionalism and we live it and present it, we can then begin to expect it from others.  We cannot demand from others what we do not demand from ourselves.  Attitude cannot replace experience or self-development or true expertise. 

Demand and expect from yourself FIRST!!!  LIVE IT, BREATHE IT, DEVELOP IT!  Allow your professionalism to grow from your honesty of self.  Question, find the answers, make the changes and DARE to explore yourself and what you are there to DO. Then DEVELOP IT.  DO NOT SETTLE!!!! Challenge is exciting and challenge allows us to do what we say we do.  

Put your money where your mouth is!  Quit making excuses and BE what you say you are.  And if the excuses don't disappear, maybe it's time to re-think where you are.  And that's okay too.

BE where you are. BE what you say you are. Nothing is promised.  Nothing is yours just because you think it should be or because you want it.  You need to EARN it.  Earn it with your talent, your commitment, your intention.  EARN your professionalism in whatever field you are in. It is not bestowed on you. It comes from within.


  1. Susan, thanks for this great post. I feel I'm in a period of re-invention, and this blog just provided very specific questions for me to ask myself as I "re-organize" my life, my career, and my closet! It has taken me years, and I feel like I'm coming into my own and really owning what I do and the choices I make, be they positive or negative...I learn from it all.
    Thank you for being part of this journey...

  2. Thank you for your comment - and it is indeed a privilege to be a part of this journey! Many thanks!

  3. Brava! What a superb post. I absolutely agree - "Know Thyself", of course, an examination to be undertaken constantly in every aspect of our life and art, absolutely necessary to our constant growth. It certainly needs saying, too; I hope many, many people read this and learn from it.


    (Although I have to say, the images thrown up by "How do we possibly walk the mine-field and step through and around the cesspool?" were, um, quite interesting, especially as I'm reading this before breakfast!)

  4. thanks Katy! Perhaps I should have added at the top - please read when stomach is settled!!!