Being A Professional: Dale Atkins at TEDxYouth@EHS (Transcript)

Dale Atkins

Dale Atkins – TRANSCRIPT

I’m going to talk about professional and that’s a word that we hear all the time. We hear it, we see it, we read it its its everywhere.

We use it so often. I wonder if we really even know what its mean. And maybe more importantly, what is being professional mean to you. We can look in a dictionary and generally we’d find oh three definitions and the first is the professional pertains to a profession. It kind of makes me scratch my head, but the second definition adds a little bit more. Professional is someone who’s paid for their occupation.

Makes sense. And, a third typical definition is a professional is someone who’s achieved a high level of knowledge and skill. Okay. But when I look out in the audience this evening and I apply those definitions I think it applies to just about everybody. So why is it in a community full of knowledgeable and skilled and paid workers that that label professional is given to so few people.

Well, I think it has to do likely with the value of the service that’s delivered. So what differentiates a professional say from a technician, a technician is very skilled and savvy and knowledgeable person, but the difference between the two, the professional delivers judgment. Yeah, that considered decision, that valued judgement. In fact, the more uncertainties we face the more important judgment becomes and the more important the role of the professional. But professional is an odd word.

I mean i’ts not just a label or a title; it also can be used to describe or mean attitudes, behaviors, and actions. Think about it for a minute, if we combine those three the the effect of those three has some pretty profound implications. And the reason is that attitudes drive behaviors, and behaviors drive actions, then actions reinforce attitudes, and what those three things mean is there what they’re describing is literally us as individuals. So that tells me that being professional that can be applied by anyone and everyone. And I think that’s a good thing.

The process of being a professional its not an event, or maybe I should have said that a little more clearly, the only way of becoming a professional is not an event its a process. It’s a journey. And, it takes some real internal drive and motivation but its often sparked with interest and desire. And the process for me started long ago when I was able to become a member of mountain rescue team when I was in junior high school. And, very early on I realized and learned the value of being a professional.

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Because in mountain rescue uncertainty just that abounds, and judgment is mission critical to what we do in mountain rescue. And over the years I’ve learned more about professionalism and what I see is a framework to being a professional. And that framework well it consists to four different aspects. And here’s sort of the short version of my talk. But those four aspects to being a professional are simply knowing, doing, helping, and learning.

You might think, whoa, wait a minute Dale, is that is that really something or is that the world according to Dale Well, it actually is some real meat to this substance Those first three knowing, doing, and helping that those were identified by psychologists and sociologists more than 25 years ago But, they missed the boat it wasn’t complete Because being a professional is a process

So I’ve added learning to that. Because it keeps that process going. And the beauty of being a professional what I’ve learned is sure it applies to me and work but it also applies at home, it applies at school, it applies in the mountains and certainly at work In my journey to that as I said started with mountain rescue. More than 50 years ago here in Evergreen Alpine rescue team was formed.

And, you gotta remember that far back. Evergreen was really a small place. And they had a real challenge to have enough members that could drop everything and just head off into the mountains to help people. And so within a few years, the leadership realized that young people teenagers could actually do that hard work of the adults and plus we had time. So back in the day, we could become a member of Alpine rescue team when we were 14. And some of us even got on a little bit earlier.

But what was really cool and I think a very unique feature of Alpine was that we were not junior members. And, yeah I did join after color photography came out, I will point that out, but we were not junior members because once that we demonstrated that we could do the job we were expected to do the job whenever needed. And, that’s really an important thing when you are young person certainly there’s some limitations to that or some limiting factors. I mean I’ve gotta admit when you’re a 14 15 year old teenager boy, really yes yes size matters. We were not the biggest animal in the woods at 14-15 even some of us 13 or 12. We also had to keep good grades so that we could be let out of school when we were called on missions.

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And I’ve gotta admit that was one of the coolest things of being on Alpine in junior high and high school was when the message came over the PA attention all Alpine rescue team members please come to the office. And we always thought we were so cool. Didn’t happen enough but it was pretty cool. But most important we had to keep our parents happy and pleased with what we were doing because they’re the ones that answered the phone in the middle of the night.

They’re the ones that had to wake us up and often drive us to some staging area at 4 o’clock in the morning. And it became really a big deal when a we could drive because we didn’t have to rely as much on our parents. We didn’t have to ride our bikes sometimes to get to missions and trainings. And it didn’t have to mooch rides and we had that independence which we all knows a great thing.

But the key thing is that we were not treated as juniors we were treated as equals because we worked really hard. And we worked right along side those adults. By the time we were in high school at least some of us were actually starting to lead or direct significant portions of a the search and rescues and even directing the entire operations. This is high-schoolers doing this. And, also being at that age there were times when maybe the biggest thing was when your voice stopped changing.

Cause it was really hard to call up and order up a helicopter when you call the military and you wake up a captain or a major in the middle of the night who’s now grumpy and your voice starts cracking. It just didn’t go over very well so we learned very early on to be to speak with confidence and authority and even tone to our voice. But we learned a lot, well, and I’ve gotta say I’m still at it 40 years later. Enjoying it, enjoying all of my colleagues on the team and learning a lot. So, with that I bring a challenge to you guys.

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And think of everything that you are doing or will do that you do it with this framework or this context of being a professional. And remember those four aspects of being a professional first one, professional being professional is knowing and I mean learn everything that you can and as much as you can. And you need to know more than just having an awareness you need to understand. And take that knowledge and apply it. Start doing something with it.

Because when you’re doing something with it you are practicing and that’s where you develop skills. And when you take knowledge and you combine it with skill you’re going to start to realized that there is many options and many solutions to solving problems. That third aspect of being a professional is helping and we have heard that term given in several different ways tonight. Of giving, helping, being there for people. Helping professionals help people because remember I said that highest level with the professional offers is judgment.

And in mountain rescue that judgment comes with a lot of hard work. No doubt about it. But that helping is where you make a difference and professionals make a difference in peoples lives. And the last is to make a commitment to learning. Make a commitment to life long learning.

Cause learning keeps you current keeps your skills and knowledge current and up to date. But more importantly learning let me back up more importantly is because yesterdays knowledge and skills aren’t always going to be good enough to solve tomorrows problems. So everything that you do be professional in what you do. It’s going to make you better. And being professionals going to probably help you make your community a better place too.

Thank you.

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