Four Ways of Being A Professional

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On the perfect triathlon race day, things just line up. In the swim, your high elbow catch leads to a good pull as you feel the water.  On the bike your clips pulls the on pedals with high knees, you climb with the right gear ratio to maintain the 90 cadence while drafting and passing are both seamless. The bike dismount into T2 is flawless and you make it through the brick effortlessly. Into the run, your shoes feel right on the pave and you resist the urge to go out too fast. You do not have to compete at the elite level to be considered a triathlon professional.  You simply have to: develop a unique skillset, go by feel, use your language and show up daily.
 
Whatever it is you do, to consider yourself pro, you must first and foremost develop unique talent.  You might not start with it or might already have it without knowing, but to define professional it must be utilized.  Simply put, the triathlete is generally better at swimming, biking, running and transitioning than others who do not practice these skills. Once the talent is acknowledged, it becomes fine-tuned year over year, micromanaging the weaknesses until they become strengths.  Maybe you are decent at writing, or saving money or parenting.  Maybe you are good at making people feel welcomed or brewing coffee.  Maybe you are good at weightlifting, teaching piano, shoveling dirt, finding cool items in the sand, signing or driving. Whatever it is, you have it whether you realize it or not. 
Next, pros go by feel. In practice, they make adjustments to their skill by intuitively comparing previous experience to current feedback. There is no textbook to confirm the right answer but they just feel what makes things better and not better. They use their senses to make adjustments that add up over time and make them deeper in skill.
Pros also work within an environment that uses language that the outside world does not understand. Imagine outsiders listening to your team or family while they practice what they do. They would have trouble relating to what is precisely going on.  This jargon creates a culture of internal unity and rite of passage, stimulating creativity, satisfaction and deeper interest.
Finally, pros show up each day.  They have a passion and internal motivation to continue the grind.  They cannot always explain it, but they like what they do and want to get better at it.  Over years of practice, they will have invested countless hours on something, organically breeding triumph over those that do not practice daily. Naturally, this time spent provides the road that drives unique skill development, the confidence to go by feel and the creating of their own language.
Being a professional is more that wearing a suit, riding an expensive bike or wearing fancy running shoes. 
What are you a pro at? …Maybe you do not even know it yet.
Image by Susan Flynn

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