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Having a Professional Job Doesn’t make you a Professional

A few years ago I had a life changing conversation with a mentor of mine so I thought it would be good to share it with you.

Mentor: Hey Terrell I heard you tell someone you are a professional in the finance and accounting field, how did that happen?

Me: What? You know my story; I went to school, earned my degree and got hired by one of the world’s tops accounting firms.

Mentor: Oh wow so you’re one of those people

Mentor: Let me teach you something about a real professional; real professionals are people that do more than just show up, they are always perfecting their craft. Consider a professional athlete; they aren’t professionals because they show up on game day and just play, if they tried that they wouldn’t be professionals very long.  In reality those professionals are constantly working on their craft, practicing, studying the game and training.  So be honest and ask yourself; are you really a professional or are you just a guy with a job within a profession?

It was a tough truth to accept but in reality I wasn’t perfecting my craft.  After that conversation I took initiative and started doing some things that really helped me become a true professional and the promotions and raises followed. It’s funny how developing my skills, being more strategic about my job and actively working on getting better also made me happier and opened the door for better opportunities for. Below are some of the things I did:

  1. Read non-fiction books related to my field of work

  2. Studied the industry through analyzing key customers and competitors

  3. I scheduled lunches and meetings to learn from people that were senior in position and experience than I was

  4. I stopped going after jobs just for the money and status but really looked to develop the right set of skills

Be honest with yourself and ask “Are you a professional or just someone that has a job within a profession”.

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