There are four traits of a ‘super’ professional: resilience, autonomy, agility and clarity. So let us start with resilience, which means the capacity to recover quickly from difficulty, or adversity or setbacks – or in one word ‘toughness’.
Dean Becker from Adaptiv Learning Systems found that the level of resilience a person exhibits determines their success, far more than their level of education, training or experience.
Contrary to popular belief, resilience is not something that only some are just born with – it can be learned.
Resilient professionals need three learnable characteristics or capabilities:
(1) acceptance of reality; (2) sense of purpose; and (3) the ability to adapt.
Acceptance of reality
Acceptance of reality means being down-to-earth and accepting that what happens is not entirely within our control. We need to accept the things we cannot change and steer our work, our career, our life as much as we can in the direction we want.
We don’t need things to be a certain way, or ‘if only …’ we could achieve so much or any form of wishful thinking. We don’t throw in the towel when things do down, just take a deep breathe and get on with it.
Sense of Purpose
The second ability is a sense of purpose. This translates for professionals as having a sense of meaning, not just about this is a job to earn money for whatever else I want to do in life. As a professional you have a duty of care, to provide solutions or advice based on the best evidence, theory or data that is available.
Obviously we need to earn money to live, but we should be working towards the ‘greater good’ based on our values which as professionals we should not compromise.
Ability to Adapt
It is critical to have the ability to adapt when things change – as change invariably will happen.
H G Wells in Empire of Ants published in 1905 referred to ‘welcoming our robot overloads’. Its much closer today over a century later. Advances in technology, particularly automation, artificial intelligence (AI), algorithms and computing power are going to take over many routine and detailed tasks – are you ready for that?
Tesla has self-driving vehicles for long range freight deliveries, doing away with drivers, errant driver behavior and increasing efficiency.
IBM’s Watson has numerous AI applications, such as reviewing millions of research publications to suggest the most viable treatments for particular symptoms, much more accurately and quickly than any doctor. Readily adaptable to any professional discipline.
Professionals have to adapt to creatively solving problems and leaving the routine and detail to the ‘robot overlords’!
We are able to adapt to the new work environment by being able to focus on the interesting and challenging problem solving they have been trained for and based on their experience can provide innovative and value for money solutions.
To become a ‘Super Professional’ means learning the ability of resilience — be able to accept reality; have a sense of purpose; and the ability to adapt.