Michael's Monthly Column "Throwing My Loop"

Throwing My Loop…    

By:  Michael Johnson  



     We hear that word constantly.  From the first minute we enter the workplace, we hear, “Be professional.”  What does that really mean?  If we asked ten people to define the word, I bet we would get eleven different answers.  Here’s the dictionary’s definition…
– a person paid to undertake a specialized set of tasks and complete them for a fee.  Traditional professions were doctors, lawyers, engineers, clergymen, architects, and commissioned military officers.  Today the term is applied to nurses, accountants, educators, engineers, scientists, technology experts, social workers, artists, actors, golfers, and cowboys who rodeo full time.
     And there is a final paragraph…
     “Due to the personal and confidential nature of many professional services - thus the necessity to place a great deal of trust in them - most “professionals” are subject to codes of conduct resulting in strict moral and ethical obligations.”
     Man, that sounds good.  From definitions like those above (and our own internal sense of what a professional really is) we come to believe that whether a person is “professional” depends on what they do or what line of work they are in.  The job title determines if a person is stamped “professional.”  Right?  Wrong. 
     All of the above is absolutely worthless.  (Sorry for having wasted your time.)
None of those words help us determine if someone is truly professional – and that is a sad thing…and an important thing.
     During our years of formal education in high school and college, we come away from that experience assuming we know what “professional” means – and we never question that definition.  It’s only later that we learn what the word really means.
     After becoming so old (so quickly, it seems now) and working for myself for a number of years, I have a completely different way of thinking about the entire subject.  I wish I had thought about it a great deal more - and much sooner - in my life, because my teaching would have had more value for students, and Lord forgive me…I might have been a better person.
     Being professional has little to do with someone’s title.  After all, we know of Wall Street bankers who must certainly have all sorts of codes of conduct and moral obligations – but how many do we know who actually live by them?  And we can say the same for some doctors, lawyers, engineers, and all the accountants who worked for Enron.  Is a football player who head butts his wife a professional?  Is a doctor who schedules unnecessary surgery a professional?  Let’s say a building contractor (a professional building contractor) does half what he said he would do - yet takes all your money.  Is that person a professional?
     Sadly, I can’t remember any educator – from first grade through doctorate - talking about this in my life, and here’s something even sadder.  I can’t remember ever talking to students about it either.  I’m sad about that now.
     The great irony is this subject isn’t even complicated.  Horse trainers and golfers both use the word “feel” in their respective professions.  Now there is a word that is complicated.  “Professionalism” is not.  Jesus told us, our grandmothers told us, and our fathers and mothers told us.  From the current day looks of things…we still don’t get it.  Here it is - here is how to be “professional.”
Be honest.
Make your handshake and your word mean something.
Show up on time, work the whole time you are on site, stay until the job is done.
If something doesn’t work, go back and fix it at no charge.
Treat people like you want to be treated.
Make money, and make the quality of your work just as important as money.
Definition of professionalism –
“Do what you say you are going to do - when you say you are going to do it.”
That definition works if you are a doctor or a lawyer, a carpenter, or a 17-year old cowboy working cows on Saturday at the sale barn.
     While it may sound corny, (that’s always an indication one is on the right track) the rewards are so numerous.  People will like you more, you will feel better about yourself, you will see how wrong it feels when the opposite is done to you, and you will make more money than you ever have in your life.  Because when we encounter someone who does good honest work, we only want to deal with that person from then on.  A person’s positive reputation is the thing that generates business.  
     My wife and I were talking with a man recently named Kyle Wilson.  Kyle is a former aerospace engineer, who now works in the medical profession.  He spends his days helping physicians map out complex surgeries for patients.  We asked him about his success and what he tells young people.  His answer was short and quick.
     “It’s not complicated,” he said.  “No matter what line of business we’re in, the keys to success are the same.  Stay in one place – and tell the truth.”
     Professionalism.  It’s not what you are. 
     It’s who you are…and how you live.

                                                                                               --Michael Johnson

 Ed. Note:  In January of 2012, RFD-TV’s All Around Performance Horse TV, and Roping and Riding with Tyler Magnus, will broadcast the first embedded segment of The Advice Barn, a viewer call-in show hosted by Dr. Harry Anderson, with featured guests, Dr. Michael Johnson, and Dr. J. D. Norris.
The Advice Barn is sponsored by Total Feeds, Inc. maker of Total Equine, Dr. Harry Anderson’s creation of an all-purpose feed designed for the horse.  Total Feeds, Inc. sold thousands of tons of Total Equine last year.




The Rowdy Cow Dog


Healing Shine


Please stop
and sign our Guestbook

Send Michael
an Email

Michael Johnson Books
1172 CR 4122  Campbell, Texas 75422  (903) 862-2082

Copyright © 2003 Michael Johnson Books. All rights reserved.
webmaster pswope@candw-webmasters.com