10 Ways to Become a PRO in your Industry

10 Ways to Become a PRO in your Industry

What does it mean to be a pro?

Like a lot of American boys, growing up I regularly dreamed of being a pro athlete.

Over the years and even today, whenever I hear of a story of a pro athlete getting in trouble, not showing up for practice, or not hustling during a game I am flabergasted.

They seemingly have it all: a dream job, a big paycheck, fame; and they seem to be just letting it all slip away. How could they treat their profession so casually when millions of people (like me) would give almost anything to be in their shoes?

In my opinion, a ‘professional’ is someone who gets paid to do their chosen work, but a ‘PRO’ is someone who truly takes their chosen profession seriously and stands out among their peers.  

One example of this is JaMarcus Russell. For those of you who are not NFL fans, Russell was the #1 overall pick of the 2007 draft. I remember it well because I graduated the same year.

Russell came off a phenomenal college career in which he excelled primarily on his 6’6 frame and natural athletic ability. But his NFL problems started almost immediately. He “held out” for a larger contract through all of training camp and into the first week of the season.

Over the next three seasons he won and lost the starting Quarterback role for the Raiders. He showed up for the 2010 season overweight and out of shape. The Raiders traded for another Quarterback and released Russell after just three seasons. That was the end of what was once a promising career.

That same year JaMarcus Russell was released, the Pittsburgh Steelers (disclosure: my team!) took a chance by using their 6th round draft pick on an under-sized Wide Receiver from a 2nd tier college. He didn’t hold out for a large contract; he went to work. He wasn’t a starter early on, but he absorbed everything he could possibly learn. He was happy to get involved with special teams to try to make an instant impact.

Now entering his sixth season in the NFL, this player, Antonio Brown, has worked his way up to the top of the team, the top of his game, and the top of the entire league. All because of his humility, work ethic, thirst for knowledge and constant desire to improve.

This is a PRO.

It’s easy to look at athletes and say “if I were them I’d be more like Antonio Brown than JaMarcus Russell”.

But that’s not the point. The point is we ALL have the opportunity to be a PRO in whatever field we have chosen for our career.

Are you a PRO in your profession?

Here’s how you answer that:

  1. A PRO is someone who is consistently out-working their peers.
  2. A PRO is someone who is willing to test new ideas, techniques, and approaches.
  3. A PRO constantly delivers MORE than the customer expects.
  4. A PRO has proven repeatedly that their boss and co-workers can always count on them.
  5. A PRO follows up and follows through.
  6. A PRO is never above doing any job that needs to be done to advance the mission.
  7. A PRO never stops self-training by reading books, listening to podcasts, and attending training events.
  8. A PRO networks with their contemporaries in the industry and always treats them with respect.
  9. A PRO is not detoured by failure.
  10. A PRO provides value to everyone around them.

Are you a PRO? Which of the above 10 do you need to improve to become a PRO in your industry?
Whatever your chosen profession, I encourage you to take an honest look to determine if your are acting more like JaMarcus Russell or Antonio Brown. Where could you improve to get on top of your game this year?

Tim Hammerich

Tim is a strategic communications consultant, founder of AgGrad, and the host of the "Future of Agriculture" podcast. Originally from California, he is now based out of Boise, Idaho.