In the past few years in my field, I’ve found a common thread that defines true professionals.

Pros don’t get cocky. They don’t complain. They show up each morning and serve. They serve their teammates by delivering quality on time and under budget. They serve their clients by maintaining a kind demeanor and patient attitude. They serve their leaders by being reliable and professional. For them, the value they provide with their craft is their act of dignified service each and every day.

Another quality of pros: they know that to be truly effective at providing service to others, they must put in the time and learn to do the work properly. I, as a web developer, can’t walk into an operating theater and perform open-heart surgery. If we can’t meet people’s needs effectively, we’re not providing real service.

Pros also approach career advancement cautiously. They know that as our careers advance, it’s not an opportunity to wield more power; it’s a call to greater service. It’s why we uses phrases like “serve as President” or “serve in the military”; these roles require extraordinary sacrifice, and when those in power act as servants, they inspire and enrich those around them.

Lastly, pros have a mission. They understand why they carry out the service they’ve committed to, and this makes them highly effective. Service without a mission is an act of self-service.

At every point in your career, ask yourself: what service am I providing to others? Is this work valuable to anyone but me?

We are all servants, but pros truly serve.

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