Do We Need More Professional People?


A while ago I tweeted the following:

Sometimes people tell me I should be more professional. But I don’t think more professional people is a thing that’s good for our planet.

Professional people get more shit done. No doubt about it. They can influence people, engage people and push people to do things. They have more money and power. They dress sharper, have better social media profiles and attract people, as we trust serious, sharp professionals. They know what they’re doing. They find people to invest in their ideas. They are sometimes ruthless in order to get what they want, but that’s part of their modus operandi.

The thing is; I don’t think the qualities of professional people are what we need in the world right now. I actually rather think that unprofessional people have the qualities we need. Those who don’t focus on money, surface and self-promotion, but rather those idle, slow-living, unorganised people who often give away their time and their knowledge for free.  Those who take a lighter, more quiet approach to life than the high-octane professionals. Those who realize that speed and efficiency only leads to a need for more speed and efficiency.

You get what I mean. Even if we don’t like smelly, naive hippies, we know that they’re doing the right thing. They consume less, care for the Earth and their carbon footprint is lighter than ours. And even if they’re often hypocritical (which we are quick to point out), they are actually better for the planet.

My problem is that in order to get somewhere with my projects right now, I must be more professional. People I work with need me to be this, in order to trust me, fund me, and help me. They don’t want to fund an unprofessional person – a hippie. And I want to move forward. I want shit done. Together with them. So I want to be professional.

And therein lies my problem. I don’t think we need more professional people on the planet, but I want to be more professional myself. A clear contradiction.

This is the classic NIMBY (not-in-my-backyard) thing applied to one’s actions. In Holland some years ago they asked people if they thought less people would be better for the planet. A majority said yes. Less people in Europe? Yes. Less people in Holland? Yes. Less people in their neighbourhood and family? No!

The NIMBY logic is clear. The closer we are to a problem the less likely we are to be generous and understanding; the less likely we are to accept foreign and unwanted elements.

And I want less professional people in the world, but want to be more professional myself. That’s not being the change you want to see. That’s not putting your money where your mouth is.

I don’t know how to solve my problem.

I guess it’s the same as my relation to work. I think people in general should work less. But I work more and more for every year. I want my projects to move forward and hence I need to spend more time on them. Most activities I do for this are fun, but some of them are boring, i.e. I must label work.

But how can I reconcile these “be the change you want to see” dilemmas? I can work less and be less professional, or I can change my mind to a belief that professionalism and work are good.

I wonder what’s the easiest.

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