3. ACCEPTANCE. Last week, I spoke about OPENNESS as one of the traits you need to foster to be a true professional. Very closely related to OPENNESS is ACCEPTANCE. You might say that there’s no difference at all between the two, but one can be open to many things and even be willing to try them, but not necessarily accept them.
A true professional knows how to accept things. One of the most important things that the true professionals knows is to ACCEPT CHANGE. Nothing stays the same. No job, no career, no business, no person, so society stays the same. Everything changes. The person who does not accept those changes becomes unwielding and stagnant. Professionals need to move with the times and change with the times. Otherwise, they eventually become obsolete.
Change is not the only thing that a true professional needs to accept. A true professional needs to know how to ACCEPT CRITICISM. Not everyone will be happy with what you say or do and you will always have some detractors. The point is, you should learn to listen to it all, pick out what valid criticism and use that as a clue to what you should improve. You need to stop making excuses for every criticism you get. Whenever you make an excuse, you are trying to cover up your shortcomings or trying too hard to prove something or denying that something might be wrong or unsatisfactory with what you did. The proof of a job well done is always in the final result. Always look at criticism as help. Others will see things that you might have missed, simply because you were too close to the job or too attached to it.
A true professional will also know how to ACCEPT PRAISE. There is really only one way to do it and that is to accept it graciously. A simple thank you is just right. If you say “It was nothing” or “It really isn’t that good” or “I don’t really deserve it,” you are downgrading your abilities. If you gush, you convey the message that you aren’t used to doing things well and this was probably a fluke. If you start pushing your other accomplishments, you sound like you are boasting. If you worked with others on the job or project, you should also acknowledge them with a simple “I couldn’t have done it without the help of…” If you don’t, you are taking undue credit that should be going to others as well. Finally, you should never let the praise get to your head. It’s nice to know that people like what you have done, and that’s enough. You don’t need to remind them. And you should never think that just because you were praised a few times that you are better than anyone else. Always remember that there is always room to improve, room to grow. The moment you sit on your laurels and feel that you don’t need to do anything else because you are perfect or the best is the moment that you start failing.
Last, but not the least, a true professional should know how to ACCEPT FAILURE. Everyone experiences failure, some more often than others. Those who seem to always succeed do so because they have learned to accept faults and failure and learn to work with them and around them. They don’t retreat from whatever they are doing just because they have failed. They examine their failure or faults and work on them so that they aren’t repeated. They accept that failure is part of learning and embrace that learning as the best way to learn how not to fail again.
Acceptance isn’t always easy to do, especially when it goes against what we are used to and what makes us feel secure. Most people don’t seem to realize it, but it’s really one of the biggest factors in differentiating an amateur from a true professional.