What The Rolling Stones can teach us about professionalism

Courtesy Wikipedia
Courtesy Wikipedia

My son is about a year and a half old. And he loves The Rolling Stones. Loves them.

Now, he doesn’t really know who The Rolling Stones are. But he certainly knows when one of their songs is on. I can’t count the number of times I’ve listened to “Start Me Up” in the past six months.

What do The Rolling Stones know about professionalism? Well, they’ve consistently been one of the most prolific bands on the planet for the last 54 years.

Why does that matter? Because The Stones give a crap about their music. They haven’t needed the money for a long, long time. Yet, they consistently make new music and play live show, after live show, after live show…

One often quoted definition of a professional is someone who earns money doing what they’re doing. Then, of course, The Rolling Stones are professionals, as are countless other rock bands.

I think of a professional as being defined by more than a payment. A professional is someone who takes what she or he does seriously, someone who expends considerable time and energy refining their skill.

A professional takes on work that is bigger than herself. But you don’t have to be part of a world famous rock band. It might be as simple as pleasing the handful of people you work with on a daily basis.

I won’t pretend money doesn’t matter. It clearly does. It’s a big reason a lot of us have the jobs we have today.

With that said, gauge how large a factor money is, as a motivating factor for where you work, how you work, with whom you work. Very few of us have earned the “money doesn’t matter” circumstance that The Stones now know. But it doesn’t mean we must strictly play the role of hired mercenary.

If you think money dictates too many of your career choices, find a way to slowly change directions. Maybe you need to learn new skills. Maybe you need to connect with new people. Maybe you need to consider different industries.

Find the work that gives you more satisfaction than just a paycheck. When you feel like you’d release album after album, and play life show after live show, without receiving a paycheck…you know your name is Mick Jagger. For the rest of us, a little less might do.

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