You're about to be put under for some major surgery, when the doctor slinks into the operating room ten minutes late. "I had a really late night last night," he explains. "I was out partying with some friends. It was a blast, but man am I hurting right now!"
What's your confidence level at that point?
You're on trial for a very serious charge - and all through the proceedings, your lawyer looks totally uninterested and even plays Candy Crush under the table while the prosecution makes its case.
How would that make you feel?
You're waiting on an important bank loan to come through so you can close on your first house, or so you can stock up on inventory for your store before Christmas - and the loan officer never returns your calls.
Does that give you a warm, secure feeling?
See, when we think of "being a pro," there's a tendency to think of someone who's highly skilled in a particular field.
But going pro has a lot less to do with building your skill set than with building your character. (Remember: Just because you are a character doesn't mean you have character.)
Being a pro is not about doing something very well once in a while.
Being a pro starts and ends with being dependable - day in and day out - no matter how "big" or "small" your role is.
That's why we call it professionalism. It's about conduct more than substance.
When you get a phone call, do you always return it the same day?
Do you always have your out-of-office reply set up, when you are leaving for an extended time?
Do you always follow up with new people after you've met them?
Do you always follow up with clients to see how the project worked out for them?
Real pros not only do the work that's asked, but check to see that the work they did worked.
I love it when a pro tells me, "These are the results you're going to get from the work I'm going to give you," then comes back afterwards to help me measure the results, to make sure their predictions proved accurate. And when they take it personally when the data doesn't match up.
These examples aren't as "life or death" as the ones I put forward in the beginning. But they are no less relevant to your own professionalism!
So my question to you is - no matter what you're doing:
Are you a pro?