As most of you know, I run a swimming pool company. I've been doing this since I took over in 2000 and have handled a range of duties within my small company including preparing advertising; hiring and firing employees; training employees; scheduling work; meeting with new clients; scoping out new jobs; acting as a construction general contractor; preparing formal work contracts; preparing our finances for our accountant, and, of course, actually performing every aspect of pool service and equipment repair.
With such a wide range of tasks to handle in my typical day, I think I've sort of taken for granted the fact that I am a "professional" within my particular industry. It's odd but I still see myself as J-Man, the guy who has a girlfriend, dog and cat at home, went to a liberal arts school, and hangs out with his buddies playing sports and drinking beers every week. And when I'm out on a job doing the work, it's just the J-Man trying to get the task done to the best of my abilities. But, then it dawns on me...I am also an expert in my field and when someone calls me out to their pool, they are doing so because they don't know how to do something that I do.
I know this all sounds very simple and basic, and maybe I'm not quite explaining it well enough, but when I'm done with a job and I look at the work I've done, I'm usually proud of what I've done, but I always ask myself in the back of my head, "What would a professional have done here?"
Now, maybe I'm alone in this line of thinking, but it lead me to ask myself recently, "What is a professional job?" And "Does anyone ever feel like they've accomplished it, or are we always thinking that we're just a typical guy (or girl) doing it to the best of our abilities and wondering what this fictitious 'professional' would have done differently?"
Perhaps it's this 'professional' that keeps us driven in our own work and our own lives to continue to do better, even though we may only catch him once and a while in that level of perfection in what we are capable of doing.
And last week, I think I finally caught him.