Some say it’s the way you carry yourself throughout the day; a snap in your walk, firm handshake, or an expensive tie. Others believe professionalism is a job title – the higher up the corporate ladder you are the more professional you are.

What is professional and how often do you cross paths with a true professional in life?

Early Memories of Professionalism
When the span of my life could be measured by counting all fingers on both hands (I have 10-digits by the way), our elementary school class went on a field trip. The trip entailed taking a school bus ride to the big city of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to visit the Irene W. Pennington Planetarium (http://www.lasm.org/planetarium/about.shtml). It was the first time I’d ever visited a planetarium and being a science buff I was very excited.

Inside I could barely make out a dark domed ceiling and a center platform where the instrument projected the stars onto the ceiling. The astronomer, whose name I have long forgotten, gave a 30 minute presentation that sent me out of this world and into another strange but very excited place. I can still remember this event because, although the visual display was out of this world, it was the astronomer who left a deep and lasting impression upon my young mind.

Composure
“Starman” as I’ve now come to know the astronomer, was a very composed professional who introduced himself and provided a short bio and what could now be called, “an elevator” speech. He pulled in the audience with a short story of who he was and what he had to present. He was compelling because I could tell that this professional loved his job and it was clearly self-evident in his choice of words (articulate, passionate, and delivered with much conviction).

Appearance
Starman was sharply dressed and it seemed as though his accouterment somehow matched the command of knowledge he had for his profession. The clothes seemed to promote his image as a professional and carried forward the message, “I’m confident in who I am. Listen to me.”

Articulation
His voice commanded attention. You could not but help to listen to his words; they were engaging and full of meaning and possessed a richness that painted underlying tones of meaning and thought provoking facts.

Knowledge
Starman knew his field and engaged the student body by having an open question-and-answer session after the presentation. Again, his display of mastery over his field of study was very impressive and matched his projected image: information of facts and their relationships were representative of a competent performance and performer.

Knowledge, in and of itself, is a boat without a sail. Extraction of knowledge into a team/group environment is how a true professional leverages knowledge.

Starman used his knowledge to lead the “team” throughout the presentation and every member (student) walked away with a greater understanding of themselves and the world around and above them.
The professional is so much more than what’s been written within this article. A true account would take volumes. Other traits include responsibility, honor, reputation and trustworthiness. As a student back in the late 1970s I was afforded the opportunity to know if Starman had these qualities but they were self-evident in that short-lived encounter I and the rest of the student body had with him in that planetarium with an entire universe as his background and shooting stars flying over his head.

Professionalism is just that and so much more.

[About the Author: Phil Robles is an IT professional with over 15 years experience working numerous IT roles within 5 major industries. He is also a business owner (DaVinciworks™ & SMEOracle™). Phil is an Air Force veteran, has a B.S. Social Psychology degree from Park University, a Master, Information Systems degree from University of Phoenix, AZ, and is currently working on his Doctorate in Management and Organizational Leadership with a specialty in IT Services, University of Phoenix, AZ.]

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