How we’re perceived as professionals is a product of our choice, or lack there of, to build a reputation. If building a professional reputation is important to you, here are four ways you can do it.
1. Be loyal.
I’m sorry to have to say it, but my experience tells me that loyalty is a dying (or at least, atrophying) virtue. So who better than a professional like you to resurrect or rehab it? Be loyal to those organizations that allow you to pay your mortgage, feed your family and educate your children. Instead of degrading your employer to virtually anyone who will listen and appears to remotely care (see point #4 in my earlier post), state your loyalty loud and clear — then work to show it. If there are problems within the organization that need to be addressed to make it better (there always are), then offer your solutions to those who can do something about them.
2. Strive for excellence, not perfection.
My personal opinion is that perfection is a myth, a mirage, a pipe dream. We can spend our entire professional lives in an attempt to perfect something, anything, only to be ultimately thwarted in our efforts. But excellence? Now that’s a different thing entirely. Excellence should be pursued aggressively, enthusiastically, relentlessly. We may not be able to be perfect every day, every week, every year, but we certainly can be excellent in making things happen around us for the better, and that can help the people around us get better as well.
3. Don’t give up, give out.
I learned this critically important professionalism lesson from my father. My father never worked in what many refer to as a “professional” position (e.g., a “white collar” job). He worked as a construction painter, a life long laborer. But through those labors his professionalism shined. My father was absolutely committed to giving his best, every day, for as long as was necessary. “Give out” was the colloquial phrase he was most fond of. He used it, as in “I’m give out,” to indicate that he was more than tired, more than exhausted, he was completely spent, his physical resources depleted for that day. But, the next day he would get up and “give out” all over again. This is a sure-fire way to build a reputation. When others witness you consistently giving all you have, professionalism is the unmistakeable byproduct.
4. Be thankful.
Professionals regularly take time to be thankful for all the blessings they enjoy. Each of us is well advised to do the same. One of the blessings for which I am sincerely thankful is having the opportunity to work with fine organizations such as Westar Energy as well as dozens more each year. Of course, organizations are only as good as the professionals who populate them. Individuals such as Robin Seele, Doug Sterbenz, Rod Brown and dozens of others whose names may not mean as much to you as they do to me; folks who wear job titles large and small and on occasion, not at all — but these are professionals for sure.
They are professionals because they choose everyday to build a reputation. And so can you.
What about you — is one of these actions a non-negotiable for you? If so, which one and why? Other insights or viewpoints? Please share.