My family has an unofficial tradition when it comes to watching movies together that I was reminded of over the Christmas weekend. Basically, preparing to watch a movie in our family is — at best — a five stage process. Sometimes it can take upwards of over an hour to complete all five stages of the process even.
It all starts with talking about watching a movie (which usually we’ve already talked about in advance). Then essentially we go through the process of everyone remembering the things we’ve been putting off all day, distractions, setting up their spot for the movie just right (drinks, snacks, etc.), remembering more things we’ve been putting off, settling into the spots we set up earlier, and then finally starting the movie.
It’s a humorously inefficient process, and honestly, I quite enjoy it.
It’s much less enjoyable when we do this with our work. And it happens more often than we care to admit.
We wait for everything to be just right, the stars to align, and everyone to be in their proper places so that we can finally begin the project that we’ve known needs done. As challenging as it is to get all of this aligned with my family and movies, it’s exponentially more difficult in our work.
The alternative? Begin.
It’s amazing how quickly everyone and everything finds its place once the movie starts.
Interdependent forces, and we get to choose how they are linked.
By default, our feelings will drive how we act. It’s the way we’re built, and often the way we’ve been silently taught to behave.
We can though, if we choose, learn to separate the way we feel from the way we act. This is the work, as Steven Pressfield would say, of being a professional.
An inescapable part of doing work that matters is the hard part. There’s always a hard part. An amateur will encounter the hard part and quit. The professional feels like quitting and shows up anyway.
It’s doubtful the professional chose to turn pro for the first time the moment the hard part comes. More likely he’s been showing up as a professional all along. So now that the hard part is here, he’s ready for it.
Two interdependent forces. The one that drives us will determine a lot when the hard part comes.
None of us are expecting you to always be right, or to make even one perfect decision for that matter. We do ask that you to decide. To make the best decision you can with the information you have. To understand that the other part of professionalism is showing up every day, and that tomorrow you get to decide again if you want to.
Positive outcomes are nice. Professionals, though, focus on the decision knowing that good decisions do not equal good outcomes. The value then is found in making lots and lots of good decisions. And to do that, we have to start by making the decision in front of us.
Professionalism said simply — show up daily (regardless of how we feel) and make decisions.
The hard work then is not done in understanding what it means to be a professional, but in deciding to be one.