Professionalism is often thought of when you think about the workplace or work environment. This is mostly true, however professionalism can bleed into other aspects of your life, like a sort of positive influence. What does professionalism truly mean though? We’d have to consider different cultures and personal ethics therefore professionalism can mean a multitude of different things for different people. For some it can be dress and appearance standards and for others it could be behavioral based. The word professionalism is literally defined as “The competence or skill, expected by a professional”. For me professionalism is another tier within the realm of excellence.
When I was in the military, we lived by our core values of professionalism, Integrity First, Service before self and Excellence in all we do. Those core values are the epitome o professionalism and are what we all stand for, not just military personnel but for all who have a professional job. Having accountability for one’s self is another aspect.
Is your face shaved? Are your uniforms pressed? Are your ribbons straight and are your pants bloused? Those are all examples of looking your best. Looks are only a fraction of what it takes to be a professional. How about integrity? Did you do the right thing? Did you complete the task properly or did you short cut it to get an upper hand to have an early weekend? In some instances, lack of professionalism can mean silly outcomes or things that don’t truly matter. In some circumstances lack of professionalism can literally mean life or death.
For those who do weapons inspections, if they aren’t cleaned and assembled properly someone can die. The same can be said for those who fold and repair parachutes. I’m a firm believer in two phrases. practice what you preach, and practice makes perfect. Professionalism in general is what people should strive for regardless of where, workplace or even daily life.
Professionalism can also expel your typical bad habits. If you strive to be the best and act upon being the absolute greatest in everything you can be, you’ll soon realize that its obviously not so hard but into addition to that you can also be rid of a lot of negative side effects. Side effects of lacking professional behavior can include anything from sleeping in, curse words, repeated negative reviews from peers, not scrubbing correctly and not even practicing personal hygiene. You should always want to put your best foot forward. If you lack professionalism, then you have a hard lesson coming your way. Bad habits will slowly fade the minute you start to exhume any sorts of typical professional behaviors.
Professionalism in daily life can also be a thing. You should honestly start off your day trying your best to be a professional. Professionalism shouldn’t be just a workplace thing. If you are a professional at everything you do, everything you do will breed excellence. Its better to produce positive and professional habits sooner than later. In most occasions though, its easier to learn from examples of unprofessionalism than any literature on the subject. My favorite quote is an example of this; “you can learn much more from a fool, than any professor.”
If you really want to dig deep in the subject, look for the what not to dos. a wonderful example would be a female student tying to coerce a male student into sexual favors thus creating an unprofessional and hostile work or class environment. Case and point would mean that environments where people, student or coworkers no longer feel comfortable can affect the unit cohesiveness in a negative aspect. Where is the line though? Just people person A believes something is appropriate or professional does not mean person B is on that same level.
Unfortunately, in order to better understand this, we must seem a little 2018. Professionalism is fluid and ever changing. Things that are socially and professionally acceptable yesterday may not be the same tomorrow. Most work environments, educational institutions and so on tend to try to curve this evolution of nonsense by giving briefings or memorandums on how to behave or how not to behave, cultural awareness, ethics courses, sexual assault interactive computer-based training and many other pathways of educating people.
The truth is, if we all honestly just treated each other equally this wouldn’t really be as much of an issue. Unfortunately, there are cultural norms that in some place’s women can’t talk to a man, at the same time we can also consider than women sexually harassing men isn’t taken as seriously as it should. The main issue is that we tend to have a double standard on professionalism and it will always lean one way or the other in favor of those who claim victimhood, or who has gone without.
All in all, you must dig deep and really think about what’s important to you and what you stand for. The golden rule about treating others how you want to be treated applies, but are they really going to treat you that way? The best you can hope for is that by respecting someone and being respectful towards them, will reflect the same positive treatment back. Just because there is a standard, doesn’t mean everyone will follow it and not adjust it to their own benefit.