Professionalism

thinking bunnyWhat does it mean to be a professional?

I’ve asked a number of people what professionalism means this week, and realized that we all have an idea of the meaning, but how that looks can be very different from person to person. As a stay-at-home Mom, I’ve had my share of run-ins with folks who feel it is impossible to be a professional AND a stay-at-home mother.

On days when I answer my business phone with a crying kid in the background, I almost agree with them. But hey, I answered the phone…which is more than one noted professional did for me this week.

The dictionary is no help.

When you think of someone who is professional, what do you think of?

  • Competent?
  • Considerate?
  • Responsive?

A friend suggested that being a professional should include some significant level of monetary reward. As in: a professional would get paid more than an amateur. Well, that leaves me out.

I’ve had too many run-ins this week with “professionals” who were anything BUT professional in my definition of the word.

Being a bit raw, I’ve been extra sensitive to the stunning variety of ways the word is used. I have watched individuals defend their position based on their professionalism. As in: I am the professional, so what I say goes.

And I’ve seen those same people be stunningly wrong. Stunningly and expensively wrong.

I’ve also watched writers follow a path doggedly because it is the professional thing to do, even when it is clearly hurting their career or causing them stress. “This is the professional thing to do.” “I want to be seen as a professional.” Okay, but…what does that look like? Who makes those rules? Where are they coming from?

I’d love to hear from you folks: what makes a person a professional? What makes a writer a professional?

One ground rule for comments: I consider both traditionally published and indie authors to be equally capable of professionalism. This isn’t a debate about publication paths. I’m just curious — we’re throwing around this word, *I* am throwing around this word, and I’m no longer sure I know what it means.

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