I’ve often thought about what it means to be a professional. Is there any kind of philosophical difference between being an employee and being a professional? As I’ve turned this over throughout the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is, in fact, a difference between the two. And it boils down to one simple yet profound word.
The word “passion” has become associated with many ideas and areas. Those in the Christian faith recall the passion of Jesus during that first Easter weekend. Two lovers experience passion for one another, which typically involves the physical, erotic stage of romance. But the passion I’m thinking of deals more with that which drives a person to excel and be the best he or she can be.
The difference between an employee and a professional is passion. An employee approaches his job as a hired hand, somebody who clocks in for a few hours each day or night, fulfills a list of job responsibilities, and gets paid periodically. A professional can also clock in, fulfill job responsibilities, and gets paid periodically…but they are so much more. They don’t see themself as a hired hand; rather, the professional sees themself as an intergral part of the organization. Their job might be done at the end of the shift, but the work isn’t. The professional strives to be the best, do the best, and produce the best. She works in such a way that she can sign her name on each and every day of work as if that name is a personal seal or guarantee of excellence.
I had a 6th grade teacher who used to tell our class, “Don’t be satisifed with mediocrity.” The professional isn’t satisifed with the status quo; to the contrary, she becomes a student of her trade or craft. The professional seeks to become better in his career or work, not being content to rely on his boss to provide training but also seeking out ways to acquire training on his own. The reason is simple: they are obligated to give the best return for their company’s investment. Doing one’s best isn’t just a priority…it’s THE priority.
There’s a lot more I could share along these lines, but for now it suffices to say that the great difference between employees and professionals is a very simple word with profound consequence – passion.
QUESTION: How do you define “passion” in your own life?