Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Excuses and Professionals

I'm super busy today and haven't the time to do anything, even blog, but I have a few thoughts I wanted to get down today.

First, let me just borrow from Seth Godin on his blog:

Excuses are easy to find (but worthless)

Even good excuses, really good ones, don't help very much.
Explanations, on the other hand, are both scarce and useful.
And accurate forecasts and insightful intuition are priceless.

Seth is great and I get his notices in the email daily. I often think he is talking to me (or is he working in the same office as I do with the same people?) He always has great insight.

There, seems to me, three points here in his latest.

The first point is, when you make a mistake, no one wants to hear your excuses... Pros admit their mistakes and try to learn from them. Try to become professional and become insightful

The second thing is a message about "what is a professional?" I think many people need to seriously consider this question. 

In the past, I have witnessed corporation leaders and top management getting berated for making a mistake by their seniors or major shareholders or company owners. I've also seen, incredibly, these upper management people begin to pout after being reprimanded. Seriously.

No. I do not exaggerate. These people are adults yet they folded their arms in front of their bodies and began to pout like 13-year-old children. 

I was amazed that executives in their late 40's (some in their late 50's) could pout like children, but I have seen many so-called adults in the business world act like little kids in the past.

I remember one particular time when one gentleman began pouting that his senior got angry at him and said,

"You say you are professional? You sure don't act that way. Here's how a professional acts: Take the example of a baseball pitcher in the big game. He makes a mistake and throws up a bad pitch that is hit for a home run. Now, does that professional pitcher go back to the mound and pout? Or does he get back into the game and try to win?"

This guy's boss, who said this, I thought was a real leader. Kind of reminded me of General Patton. 

The third point is how to become a professional?

Let's take something like the Internet and Social Media. It's a new thing and many people are doing it. But how many people are really professional? Not many (in spite of all the Twitter notices you get from so-called experts).

I've been blogging everyday, sometimes more than three times a day, for more than a year. I have written more than 250 articles for Lew Rockwell.com since 2004. Yet, I do not consider myself a professional. I'm still learning.

But, from what I see around me, if I were to use a grading system like Karate,  I'm probably about a Green Belt; or, if my Sensei is kind, I might be the lowest rank of a Brown Belt at blogging. If I keep this up for many more years, maybe someday I will become a Black Belt. It won't be easy.

Becoming a true craftsman is not a simple task. It takes years of consistent effort and training.

That's what becoming a professional is. It is not a name or title on a business card. Just because some finance company hired you to be a financial advisor and just because you get paid to do that and have that written on your card, that doesn't make you a professional.

Black Belts are professionals. They earned their position by hard work. It wasn't given to them.

It takes years of hard work and dedication (physical and mental) to become a Black Belt. Whatever your chosen field is, it will take you at least 10 ~20 years to become a Black Belt. Don't fool yourself into thinking that you can do that in a year or two.

Don't think that, just because you started a Facebook, Twitter or other social media accounts that you are an expert.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step.

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