On Professionalism

As I try to navigate the waters of trying to become a pro-blogger while still remaining steadfast in my day job, professionalism is something constantly on my mind. My role at said day job is as a volunteer manager and recruiter, the job title used to be volunteer coordinator but let me tell you, volunteer coordinators don’t get no respect.
do the work pink typewriter I’m lucky to work for a non-profit that truly values volunteers and their contribution, which means in turn, that they value me and my role. Many of my peers at other non-profits are not so lucky. While I get to spend December thanking volunteers and throwing them a party, other volunteer coordinators spend the month preparing year-end reports to show how much volunteers contribute and therefore how valuable they are to the organization. They are literally fighting for the job to continue, justifying the role of volunteer coordinator as a paid position. Some will continue on and some will have their duties transferred over to HR or a volunteer volunteer coordinator.

Because of this, professionalism and being taken seriously is something that is always on volunteer administrators minds. I’m reading a book about it right now. It’s rather lengthy and technical writing so I got online and looked for an easier read. There is very little writing in the field of volunteer administration so I of course, found nothing. But I did find a book, Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield for those working in the arts. I read the reviews to find that most people preferred his prior book, The War of Art.

Tuesday night I downloaded it and was over halfway through the book before bed, by the time I went in to work on Wednesday, I finished it. I am still unsure if I would recommend The War of Art to anyone. I guess as a pacifist I should have known better to read something with “War” in the title. His metaphors really bothered me. At one point he compared a day in the life of a professional writer to someone hunting rabbits. Rabbits, really? You have to compare something I love to do to killing the most adorable thing ever? Ick. I had to give Buckley (my bunny) an extra carrot and some pets after reading it.

It didn’t offer much to the young professional looking to be taken more seriously, sorry my fellow volunteer professionals. But apart from the violent metaphors, there were some gems for the writer, photographer, artist, blogger… looking to go pro.

The first part of the book is where is explains “resistance”, his catch-all term for all of the mental blocks and self-doubt inside us that keep us from doing what we truly want to do and what will help us grow as an individual.

We go to “war” with “resistance” and win when we start acting like a professional, now what does a professional do?

  1.  A professional has a dedicated work space. Props to all the bloggers out there with a desk. I was supposed to get a craft room but it turned into storage because it is also the coldest room in the house. Here we go weekend project!
  2. A professional shows up to work every day. This is a place where I am truly lacking. I tend to blog when inspiration hits and put out several posts that I schedule for later. Sometimes I’ll get on a roll and blog every day but then life gets in the way. This is a sure sign of an amateur,  life does not get in the way of a professional.
  3. A professional shows up on time and doesn’t skip out early.
  4. A professional doesn’t take criticism personally. I feel like this kind of goes along with a previous post from Shaunna at A Style Moment, where she talks about vulnerability being the path of a creative. If you want to be a creative professional, you have to understand that not everyone is going to like what you do and be okay with that. You have to be willing to be vulnerable to the criticism of your audience.
  5.  A professional recognizes limitations. As a blogger, this is key. We can’t all be Photoshop pros, web designers, models, writers and photographers. At some point, you are going to need help to fill in your weaknesses so that you can focus on your strengths.

The third part of the book goes on to get pretty spiritual and I’m still trying to determine how I feel about it. But here is what it boils down to. You want to be a pro? Act like a professional. You need to show up and do the work. And if you make a habit of it, inspiration will make a habit of showing up too.

PS I get that this doesn’t really go with my months focus on generosity, but.. I felt like it was relevant to a lot of my blog friends, so I decided to roll with it.  Hope you don’t mind my digression and/or ADHD. I guess a professional would have stayed on topic, live and learn my friend, live and learn.

Talk to me, are you a pro?

PPS Steven Pressfield has another book, Do The Work, that inspired this graphic.

14 Responses to On Professionalism

  1. I would recommend Persuasion by Arlene Dickenson. Not much to do with a specific line of work, just for professionals in general. And especially geared towards women. I really enjoyed it and found it very inspiring.

  2. It’s okay that you strayed from the topic – I really enjoyed this post. There are a lot of truths to acting like a professional and I think they really do translate into the life of a blogger. You’re doing great girl!

  3. Acting like a professional – too true. It’s taking ourselves seriously. Going after what we want because we REALLY believe that we deserve it. Might not get it. Or might not get it right now but none of that will fall into our laps just sitting back on the couch in our living rooms…

  4. Great tips and some things I need to remember. I blog on my couch, don’t have a dedicated “work” time and so sometimes miss posts. I have big plans for 2013 though so perhaps I should get that dedicated space.

  5. This is a great post, and I strongly agree with everything that was said. I definitely feel like I take a professional approach to blogging, minus the fact that I do it in my jammies with a totally messy workspace. 😉

  6. I sometimes take criticism too personal especially in my day job. I also should pay attention to #5. If I ever want to be a professional blogger I am going to have to ask for help. My blog could use a fresh look.

    I watched Maria Forleo’s interview with Steven Pressfield and had added his latest book to my strength reading challenge, but now I’m not sure. I might read Persuasion instead. Thanks Alanna.

  7. I think they are some quite smple straight forward points but points which (perhaps because of their straight forwardness) are sometimes easily forgotten? The workspace is a big one for me. I am a teacher and when in my classroom can work well but when I get home I sit at the dining room table, or on my bed or at a desk. I don’t truly have a space specific so maybe that is something which I need to work on too?


  8. We are in the same boat. I am an account manager by day and a wanna be hardcore blogger by evening. I can’t help but want to be professional at blogging too!I take days off of blogging, I take days off of work too. 🙂 I also need to recognize my limitations, I wanna be an expert but I’ve got a WHILE and a WAYS to go!! 🙂