What exactly *do* you do here?

Pre-dating the NBC TV series “The Office” was the Hollywood comedy “Office Space”.  It has to be one of the most accurate depictions of modern office culture to date.

Two of my favorite characters from this movie have always been the HR consultants, Bob Slydell and Bob Porter (featured in the image on this blog).  They’re tasked with the fun of cost-cutting the human resources at Initech, and line up a bunch of employee interviews in order to do so.

Things break down quickly when they finally get to interviewing Tom Smykowski.  After talking with Tom for a bit, they realize his job is basically busy work.  They end up asking him “What would you say you do here?” Tom loses his cool and rationalizes the importance of his job in a hilarious meltdown.

Over the past few years, it seems that I have been meeting a lot of people like Tom Smykowski.  Great people who, basically, are just working a job to collect a paycheck.  Some of them are ambitious, and some of them are quite the opposite.  Some of them are “stuck” in their job, though they aspire to do something else. Others do not seem to have much ambition to change or advance in their professional lives.

I’ve come to realize that all of these scenarios are the result of a lack of understanding of what it means to be a professional.

The term “professional” has been coopted by the likes of lawyers, doctors, politicians, PhDs, etc. in our modern age of higher education. They are the first ones that come to mind when we hear that word used in relation to a career.  That, or professional athletes.

But we are all professionals on some level in our positions at work.  The degree to which you have to exercise professionalism varies from job to job, yes.  E.g. I used to work from home wearing a t-shirt and shorts almost every day.  Now, I dress a little nicer because I work in a completely different setting.  And none of us answer our work phones the way we would if our best bro called us.

The real question we have to ask ourselves is what are we doing to develop this professional side of us on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis?

It really doesn’t matter if you’re mopping floors or running a Fortune 500 company.  Each of us can make a choice to be a little better at what we do professionally every day.  That’s where it starts – by choosing… wanting… desiring.  Not necessarily to have a different job, but to be better professionally.

I really loved a picture that floated around through the socialsphere recently with a list of “10 Things that Require Zero Talent”. Every single one of us are capable of improving on these 10 things, regardless of our age, education, talent or level of income, etc.


In fact, when I used to work as a waiter at the Macaroni Grill in Grapevine, TX, I was shocked at how little I really had to do to put myself in the top 10% of the employees working at the restaurant.  Showing up on time and sober basically put me in the top 25%.  Having an optimistic attitude and refraining from bickering easily put me in the top 10%.  That’s truly it. Some of us would be surprised at how quickly we would be given a raise or promotion if we took these basic 10 things listed above and worked on them intentionally. 

There’s MUCH more I could share on this topic of professional development, and I will probably do so via postings on this blog in the future.

BUT, if you are in the DFW area and would like to hear a concise 5-week teaching on principles of professional development, come to Shabbat School at 9:30am at Baruch HaShem Messianic Synagogue starting on Saturday, Sept. 24th. I’ll be teaching a course called “From Wall Street to Hebrew University: Biblical Principles for a Professional Life“.

I’ve broken this down into what I am calling The 4 C’s of Professional Development: Calling, Choice, Cost and Collaboration. 

680 words later, I hope you’re encouraged to be a better professional today.  Having a career or job that you enjoy is invaluable.  Most all of us have to work, so we might as well put our sweat and efforts into something that we feel rewarded doing – even if that reward is simply just putting food on the table and paying your bills.  Work is meaningful!

If I can help or encourage you in this area of your life, please shoot me an email or leave a comment below!




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