What kind of “professional” do you want to be?

The room was filled with one of the most beautiful sounds in the world — at least, to my ears:

Typing fingers and scribbling pens.

It was the opening night of one of my writing workshops, and I had just given out the first assignment:

Write a short statement to introduce yourself to the room. In three minutes. Don’t over-think it.

Include your name and a few words to describe your work — not just your “job title” but the contribution that you want to make in the world.

Three minutes flew by. Pens returned to the table. I saw a few smiles of satisfaction.

But the doctor was not amused.

When it was Dr. Gee’s turn to introduce herself, she sighed.

“I really struggled with this exercise, because what I wrote down is so… unprofessional“, she said.

“When I started to write about my ‘work’ and my ‘contribution’, I didn’t write about my medical training. I wrote about how much I love to laugh.”

The room went silent, surprised and intrigued. Dr. Gee continued:

“I wrote about how I’m constantly laughing at work, with my patients — who are very sick people. How the other doctors can hear our laughter through the walls, all the way down the hall. I love to celebrate life, so my patients and I… we laugh every day.”

She paused.

“But of COURSE, I can’t say that on my website, or to a potential client or patient. Like I said, it’s so unprofessional. I mean… who’s going to want to go to a doctor like THAT?”

I glanced around the room, then back at Dr. Gee.

This was a woman who radiated love, joy and compassion from every cell of her being. I could see it. We all could.

So I said what everyone was thinking:

“Um… the answer is EVERYONE. EVERYONE wants to go to a doctor like that.”

The entire room erupted into nods and words of agreement.

Dr. Gee smiled.

“Thank you,” she said. “Thank you for saying that.”

And then, the room was filled with another one of the most beautiful sounds in the world:

Her laughter.

Too often, we hide our humanity in a misguided effort to be ‘taken seriously’.

But why hide like that? It’s painful and ultimately, it serves no one.

Loving does not make you ‘unprofessional’.

Laughing does not make you ‘unprofessional’.

Caring deeply does not make you ‘unprofessional’.

It’s exactly the opposite.

When you deliver the results that you’ve promised… AND you make a positive imprint on someone’s heart… THAT’S the mark of a true professional.

Skill AND Soul. Expertise AND Humanity.

Both, not one or the other. Just like Dr. Gee.

What kind of ‘professional’ do you want to be?