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What does your “Professional Self” look like?

Before we can ever succeed in the world around us, we have to first truly understand our own idea of who we are, or our Self. The Self is described as “a symbol-using being who can reflect on his or her own behavior.” per Franzoi (2003). Every individual has his or her own self-concept, which is an incorporation of multiple ideals that may or may not be related and are sometimes contradictory to one another altogether (Baumeister & Finkle, 2010, p. 145).

As I look back at my professional life I have to say that I have never really given much attention to my own self-concept and how it relates to the way I act around my colleagues or simply conduct business in general.

After contemplating this for a while, I took a hard look at who I am as a professional. Below is a list of some of the traits that I am aware that I exhibit while conducting business:

  • I am an extremely outgoing individual that goes out of his way to network with new people to foster new working relationships.

  • Although I am outgoing and open to new business relationships I am guarded around new people and skeptical of their intentions until I am able to establish a solid rapport with them to figure out what they are up to. Once I see that their business priorities are aligned with the organizational goals and objectives I tend to open up and allow for more collaborative work.

  • I am well educated and “smart.”

  • I constantly strive to learn new things and expand on my business skills.

  • I always try to leave my work better than I found it.

  • I conduct my work ethically and in the best interest of the organization at all times. If something is wrong, I speak up and look for a resolution to the issue.

  • I work hard. Sometimes I tend to outwork my coworkers to the point where they lose interest or give up only to let me finish the project alone.

  • I am relentless. I stay on task and see it through to the end.

Overall, my professional self looks like a hardworking, dedicated, and enthusiastic professional that wants nothing more than to succeed both personally and for the organization collectively. I always strive to make my actual self-pursue my ideal self in that I am acutely aware of what my management and senior leadership would like for me to be and I head in that direction to conform to their desires (Baumeister & Finkle, 2010).

I have to say that when I look at my professional self I immediately notice that although I am outgoing, I am a bit reluctant to form immediate professional relationships with people until I can understand where their intentions lie. I think that I picked up this trait in my former profession as a police detective where I had no choice but to be guarded to those around me as most people that I came in contact with were prone to lie to cover up their true actions or intentions. Realizing this I must do better to not be so guarded around new comers. I must give them the benefit of the doubt until they give me a reason to actually doubt their true intentions to be anything other than true to the organization.

I think that my professional self is a strong source from where I draw my own self-esteem. I spend most of my waking moments at work and it has molded me into the person that I am today. I am very proud of who I have become and what I stand for. I feel that my self-esteem and professional self-work hand in hand as a result. I am always looking for some sort of role model or mentor to look up to. I think in most cases I look to senior leadership of the group or organization for guidance on business related topics and how to behave in general. It is my belief that if I work hard and show the same values that they have throughout their careers, that I too will climb to the top, which is where I want to be in the end. I find some of my peers to be lazy at times. In most cases when I feel this way it is due to seeing under-performance or the peer not giving it his or her all. This is one thing that I need to work on as I know that not all of my peers are as engaged or driven to perform to the level that I hold myself to. The leaders that I look up to have the drive and dedication to the organization, which has propelled them to the rank they have achieved over the course of their career. This is where I can see my own self ending up one day as I progress through my professional life.

What does your “professional self” look like? Does your notion of your “professional self” provide a source of self-esteem? How does all of this define you, both professionally and personally? I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

Please feel free to share what “Your Self” looks like.

Michael Gallagher, MBA

President, Power Dynamics, LLC

Phone: (912) 414-3978


Baumeister, R. F., & Finkle, E. J. (2010). Advanced Social Psychology: The State of Science. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Franzoi, S. (2003). Social Psychology (3rd Edition ed.). New York: McGraw Hill.

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