What Do You See When You Look In The Mirror?

'Image & Professionalism' we hear these words being thrown around in conversation like cheap tokens, almost as frequently as their counterparts 'quality', 'service', and 'value'. So what does 'Image & Professionalism' really mean, and what do you see when you look in the mirror?

A funny thing happens when you overuse a word. It loses its power. It loses its effectiveness. Overuse weakens it?sort of like tissue paper.

"Yuck!" Now that was a bad analogy. Sure I could have changed it ? but I liked the image, it served to make a point.

Soggy Tissue Paper?

One moment you were reading along, paying close attention, and then (in the words of Emeril), "Bham!" You had visions of soggy tissue paper floating through your mind.

Now that was an image.

Do I have a point? Sure I do. An image is a fragile thing and can be created and destroyed very easily. As the saying goes, if you don't actively create an image for yourself, someone else will. Permit me to share one definition of 'image':

Persona, image -- ((Jungian psychology) a personal facade that one presents to the world; "a public image is as fragile as Humpty Dumpty")

Hold on to that thought for a moment, I want to get to 'Professionalism'. Here's the definition for that word:

A set of characteristics or behaviours that are worthy of the high standards of an occupation that requires advanced training in a specialized field.

Okay, so now you know the dictionary definitions, did they match yours? To the definition of professionalism I'd add a professional is someone paid to render a service - unlike a volunteer who does not.

Pay The Piper?

Now before you disagree with me and say you're a professional and a volunteer, I'd challenge you to research the word a little further. It's this whole payment aspect that seems to pre-qualify the word.

Also, pay attention to the 'requires advanced training' component. If you're a highly trained paid individual ? then by definition you are a professional.

If your actions are seen by others to mirror those qualities (in other words the image you portray) then you are seen as demonstrating professionalism. Of course there is that issue of 'worthiness', but let's not cloud things.

If a Tree Falls In The Woods?

So does that mean if no one sees you acting professionally then you're not a professional? It's like the question about the tree falling in the woods, does it make a sound if no one is there? Does that mean someone could arbitrarily decide you're not worthy of the title? Does that mean that someone could come along and damage your image with negative comments?

Sure it does. It means all these things and more. In fact the whole image and professionalism debate will most likely carry on for ever. At the end of the day the measure of a person will always be, to some degree, externally defined by the opinions and observations of others.

Who's Watching?

However the real test of your character ? because that after all is what we're really talking about here ? is defined by what you do when no one is watching. It's how you act when the chips are down. It's how you speak to others when you're tired and low, and as an unknown author once said, "Don't be content with being average. Average is as close to bottom as it is to the top." Be excellent!

So what do you see when you look in the mirror?

AUTHOR BIO: James Burchill is a freelance marketing consultant and author. He's also the editor and associate publisher for two of the automotive aftermarket industry's leading print publications and he's the publisher of http://www.CorrectLink.com - a new Internet publication for the automotive aftermarket in Canada.

In between all that, James helps people 'Sell more stuff, and make more money!' and publishes a series of informational and Internet products about advertising and marketing. His main website is http://www.JamesBurchill.com

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