By definition, a professional is engaged in a specified activity as one's main paid occupation. Is that a good enough definition? So as long as we earn a living off an activity, we're professionals?
In business school, when we imagine a professional, at times our thoughts don't linger past the dressing. We imagine all executives in a suit, walking smart and conclude that they must be the professionals in their field.
If we go as far as visiting an office of one for an assigned interview, we get wildly inspired by the fine furniture and the mounted certificate frames on the deep pained walls. I guess, it is for this reason we sometimes correlate a heavy fees with them, because we think they look it so they must be premium, and in turn what they must provide is a fulfilled promise.
Sometimes, we hear our elders say, we will never know how terrible the world can be, how harsh its expectations from us can get. We may only relate those stories with the lives of those who work in non-executive environments. How can a corporate institution not have it perfect, like the shows we watch on Star World. After all, these look like a scene out of a movie.
For those who work in the field, know what in practicality defines a professional and an executive. Sometimes an executive may be an amateur on his way to becoming a professional. In the real world, an executive will also have to be a professional to succeed. A professional is someone who makes it work, when the work has a deadline, they know how to have a thorough understanding of what is at hand well before that. They know how to get work done, and better still they know how to get work done, as required, better than required actually EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
That is what sets an amateur apart from a professional. That is why to become a professional one needs to have invested 10,000 hours in their field of work, as pointed out in the book, The Outliers. It is this time that directs them to solutions. They have struggled and found elements that work and others that don't. They have known, in practicality, that not everything comes easy. They're not counting on the beginner's luck. They have a destiny to create and luck will only favor the prepared. So they are prepared.
A client should get what he or she wants, every time. That is the rule, that is how businesses survive, grow and succeed ultimately.
Another key difference, between an amateur and a professional will be this. The successful ones will not have to tell you who they are - their success will speak of them. The amateurs will have to build on their skills till they become second nature to them.
All this being said, I personally think, what truly sets the two apart can be defined in no more than a word - one word: Voice.
A professional's work will be about his Voice. An amateurs' work will simply be a compilation; whereas, a professionals will have a cause. He or she will know the subject matter, they will develop the art of understanding and indulging in the greater good. They will want to spread the voice, not keep it to themselves. We will always know a professional from an amateur when we observe who is insecure and who is willing to share with others all they know - so that everyone gains. The latter will always be a professional because he or she will know better than to save, they will know how to spread the light so it creates more light, a stronger more resolved voice.
So I hope, when we walk out of the doors of our universities, with a degree in our hands, we will work hard till we become empowering professionals who selflessly devote to provide nothing but the most exceptional. This ones to the reward perseverance holds for those who never give up.