5 Characteristics of Successful Professionals

Photo by Clay Banks

What does it mean to be a professional? Being a professional in the context of this writing is not only about work. It extends beyond a particular occupation or job title. It means having a commitment to excellence in all that you do. It applies to your approach to life; how you treat yourself and others. It’s about mindset, character, and a way of life. When looked at in this way, professionalism is a matter of choice and is developed by design. It’s about creating and becoming the best version of yourself you can be. It’s about being a professional in the game of life.

So, what are the characteristics of a professional in the game of life? Here is a short but by no means exhaustive summary of some of those attributes.

The good thing about this is the clues on how to be a professional in the game of life have been around for a long time. There is nothing new here. These are principles that have stood the test of time. How these principles are expressed changes over time, but the core principles remain the same. It’s just helpful to have a good reminder from time to time.

First, a professional in the game of life takes full responsibility for his or her life. They don’t play the blame or victim game. They accept that the consequences they experience are the result of the decisions they’ve made and the actions they’ve taken. They understand that while there are events that can happen that are beyond their control, how they respond to those events always is. They have what psychologist Carol Dweck calls a growth mindset, believing they can always change their circumstances through proper effort.

The second characteristic of professionals in the game of life is they not only set goals; but more importantly, they implement systems to achieve them. For professionals, the systems they create that lead to the accomplishment of a goal are equally as important to (if not more so) than the goal itself. These systems become sets of daily habits professionals perform as part of their lifestyles. Professionals understand as pointed out by Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu that your habits become your character and your character becomes your destiny. The systems and habits you develop in achieving your goals have greater and longer lasting impact than the goals themselves.

Next, professionals in the game of life learn to control their emotions and not be led by them. They learn how to manage both their thoughts and emotions. There is a direct relationship between thoughts and emotions, and professionals learn that you balance and manage your emotions by examining and changing the corresponding thoughts. This is a skill that takes discipline and practice which leads to the next characteristic.

Professionals are life-long learners. They recognize that change in every aspect of life is constant, and one must be continuously learning in order to keep up with the rapid pace of change. They don’t learn because they must; but because they want to. Reading on a variety of subjects, attending workshops, taking courses, and staying open to new ideas and experiences are core habits of professionals in the game of life.

The final characteristic in this quick summary is nurturing quality relationships. Professionals in the game of life value the development of meaningful relationships. They understand that the real joy in life comes from having meaningful relationships; from having friends and family whom they love and who love them. It means having people in their lives that they can share their joys and sorrows with, who they can be sources of giving and receiving support, and who they genuinely love unconditionally. Life is meant to be shared in relationship with others and professionals in the game of life understand and value that.

As noted, this is by no means an exhaustive list of what it means to be a professional in the game of life, but it’s at least a starter for broadening our horizons on what being a professional means, and for thinking about what being a professional in the game of life means to you. Until next time:

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