The Art of Professionalism



Professionalism as used in the business world today refers to two basic areas of quality:

Quality Professional Behavior: Introduction

When you join an organization, in essence, you rent your behavior to them. You are expected to abide by the principles of the organization and to adhere to the behaviors accepted in that organization. If you canít do that, find another organization.

How important are professional work behaviors?

"Research studies show that 85% of all people who lose their jobs are dismissed not because they lack appropriate job skills but because they lack good work habits."

What behaviors most frequently lead to job loss?

The behaviors, which most often lead to job loss, are tardiness and absenteeism, failure to follow instructions, and inability to get along with supervisor or fellow workers.

Employers consistently rank quality of work as the most important job trait, followed by work attendance, consistency of performance, cooperation, and personal appearance.

Employers primary concern is to find employees with good work ethics and appropriate social behavior."

Attitudes, Values, & Beliefs

Everyone's behaviors flow from their attitudes, values, and beliefs.

Experts say the clearer we are about what we value and believe in, the happier and more effective we will be as workers and human beings.

My colleague Becky Browning & I became curious about attitudes, values, and beliefs held by workers in the blindness field, specifically, what values/attitudes/beliefs drew them to the field & sustained them in the field. So we surveyed about a hundred practitioners at AER International. This is what they shared with us:

  1. Life Long Learning/Professional Growth
    "If you arenít growing, youíre dying."

    "The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn." Alvin Toffler
  2. Helping Orientation
    "Love & giving back. I found a way to practice both, teaching older VIPís they can cope and laugh again."

    "There are two ways of spreading light; to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it." Edith Wharton, novelist
  3. Maintaining a Positive Attitude
    "Donít let depression be in your vocabulary. Keep a positive attitude."

    "Men for the sake of living, forget to live." Margaret Fuller, writer, journalist, philosopher
  4. Being Open & Flexible
    "Willingness to change; open to new ideas & possibilities."
  5. Customer-Focused
    "Ability to see a whole person with abilities and interests rather than a disabled person."

    "If you raise cantaloupe, youíve got to know cantaloupe. If you work in the field of blindness, youíve got to know about blindness and persons who are blind." George Toone
  6. Having Empathy, Sympathy, Compassion
    "The idea that a person can feel sad for someone but not sorry for them."
  7. Having High Expectations
    "Belief that people who are visually impaired can do anything."

    "Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing." Helen Keller
  8. Equal Rights for All (Diversity)
    "All people with disabilities have the right to determine their own lifeís direction & be independent."
  9. Creativity
    "Willingness to go "above & beyond" or even outside what we think is usual."

    "Imagination is more important than knowledge." Albert Einstein
  10. Patience (with customers, co-workers, supervisors)

    "Endeavor to be always patient of the faults and imperfections of others for thou has many faults and imperfections of thine own that require forbearance."
    Thomas a Kempis, medieval catholic monk
  11. Making a Difference (Passion)
    "I wanted to make a difference in peopleís lives & Iíve been so lucky to spend my life in the field making a difference in small ways. Now, my daughter is joining us in the field."

    "Be the change you want to see in the world." Mahatma Gandhi
  12. Getting Rewarded for Effort
    "Öseeing smiles on faces once they got it."

    "There are two things people want more than sex and money -- recognition and praise." Mary Kay Ash
    "People think that if a man has undergone any hardship, he should have a reward; but for my part, if I have done the hardest possible day's work, and then come to sit down in a corner and eat my supper comfortably --why, then I don't think I deserve any reward for my hard day's work --for am I not now at peace? Is not my supper good?" Herman Melville

    "It is up to us to give ourselves recognition. If we wait for it to come from others, we feel resentful when it doesn't, and when it does, we may well reject it." Spencer Tracy
  13. Building Confidence
    "The opportunity to see people build their self-confidence as they learn to trust their senses & skills are what energizes me."

    "Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them become what they are capable of being." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 17th century author

Close of Attitudes, Values, Beliefs Section:

If you donít have all these attitudes, values, & beliefs, donít despair. The thing to remember is that at their core, attitudes, values, and beliefs are just information. (Shad Helmstetter)

The bad news is that we all retain some inaccurate information in our brains. We make decisions using that information every day. The good news is that we can change by simply adding more "accurate" information. Get to know successful workers. Learn from them.


Perhaps Professional Customer Service is best described by Mark Sanborn in his book: "The Fred Factor"

Sanborn says excellent customer service revolves around 4 principles which he calls the fred principles dedicated to his favorite customer service expert, his mailman Fred:

The Four Fred Principles:

  1. Everyone Makes a Difference;
  2. Success is built on relationships;
  3. You must continually create value for others, and it does not have to cost a penny; and
  4. Reinvent yourself regularly.


"Whatever you are, be a good one." Abe Lincoln

"If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say: "Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well."í Martin Luther King, Jr.

"The world is moved not only by the mighty shoves of the heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker." Helen Keller

Sanbornís Questions:


"It takes just about the same amount of time to be a nice guy as it does to be a jerk." Jimmy Buffett

"You can tell more about a person by what he says about others than you can by what others say about him." Leo Aikman, Writer and Newspaper Editor


"...many firms think of marketing as a process of getting people to buy the stuff they produce. That's a recipe for falling behind. Marketing needs to be a process of learning client needs and organizing the business around satisfying them." Unknown


"If you were all alone in the universe with no one to talk to, no one with whom to share the beauty of the stars, to laugh with, to touch, what would be your purpose in life? It is other life, it is love, which gives your life meaning. This is harmony. We must discover the joy of each other, the joy of challenge, the joy of growth." Mitsugi Saotome, Master Aikido Teacher

"Always do your best because someone is always watching." Colin Powell

"If the person you admire most in the world walked in the door, what would they see?" Canzata Crowder

Close for Customer Services Section

Retail Store Credo

"Because the customer has a need, we have a job to do.
Because the customer has a choice, we must be the better choice.
Because the customer has sensibilities, we must be considerate.
Because the customer has an urgency, we must be quick.
Because the customer is unique, we must be flexible.
Because the customer has high expectations, we must excel.
Because the customer has influence, we have hope of more customers.
Because of the customer, we exist."

Always remember: You are your first customer.

Close to Professionalism Presentation

"But where was I to start? The world is so vast. I shall start with the country I know best, my own. But my country is so very large. I had better start with my town. But my town, too, is large. I had best start with my street. No: my home. No: my family. Never mind, I shall start with myself." Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize Winner

"Some people with disabilities have the attitude: "I donít have to change. I donít have a problem. The world has the problem. Fine. Sit there and wait for the world to change. See what happens to your life. It sounds like a clichť; but the ability to change or bring about change is within you and me. Change starts one person at a time. Go out and do something that makes a difference in your life or someone elseís life. Donít accept things the way they are. Act." Judy Scott

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