Saturday, August 7, 2010

It's Not What You Do - It's How You Do It!

My sister-in-law gave us an old cuckoo clock several years ago - it was in pieces in a box and we set about putting it back together. Finding parts and people who knew how to fix these wonderful old clocks was not that easy - the professional old clock maker here in Laguna Beach (he isn't old but the clocks he works on are) had it for a year while looking for parts and tinkering with the little bellows that produced the distinctive sound that these things make. He called last week and said it was finally done so I went and picked it up and hung it in a prominent spot here in the house. But that's not the point of this story.

Weights hang and drive the mechanism that keeps the time on this cuckoo clock, and frankly this is not as accurate as the many other timekeeping devices we have at our fingertips these days. Time is displayed on cell phones, computers and cable boxes, and the time displayed there is programmed and synchronized electronically with clocks that carefully count the ongoing passage of time. But really, how accurate does time have to be. When this old cuckoo clock was made, the people who relied on it lived a simpler life - one not driven by an obsession with time. And somehow they got by and even thrived; I daresay they were probably healthier and happier than we are today.

So maybe the moral of this story is that it's who we are, how we treat one another and whether we keep our promises that really counts. It's not whether we use all these devices to be on time, but rather whether over time we're what we really should be. Timekeeping, like everything else in life, has evolved to a highly exact and mechanized science. This old cuckoo clock operates differently - it's time is a bit less accurate, a bit more laid back, and a bit more like real people: intent on being nearly right most of the time. Maybe that's good enough.

The message this week is about the fact that it's not what you do, but rather how you do it, that's so important.

Professionalism: it’s NOT the job you DO; it’s HOW you DO the job. Anonymous

A lot of people describe themselves as professionals: doctors, lawyers, architects, athletes, drivers, chefs, actors, pilots and others too numerous to list. Look in the yellow pages (are there still yellow pages?) and you’ll see electricians, plumbers, computer programmers and a host of other technical types who claim that they’re also professionals. Palm readers, dog walkers and stenographers round out the long list of people claiming to be a ‘professional’.

So, what are you? Are you the best at what you do, every day? Do you bring knowledge and skills and abilities with you wherever you go and whatever you do? Is the work you do exceptional in every way? Do you approach and then perform that work to the best of your abilities and with the best attitude every time? The answer to these questions should lead you to conclude that it’s not what, but rather how you do the things you do that defines who you are and how people see you – it’s what gives you a reputation. If you do what you do with creativity and enthusiasm and good humor, if you perform at the highest levels at all times, if you pay close attention to every little detail as if your life (read: reputation) depended on it – then you’ll be seen by family and friends and colleagues and neighbors and all the others you run into as a professional. Because it’s not the what, but rather the how that others really notice. Doing whatever you do, flawlessly, every time, is not just the way to being seen as a pro, it’s the essence of professionalism.

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