With youth: What is professionalism?

Acharya Prashant
9 min readJan 9, 2023

The following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.

Question (Q): What is the meaning of being a professional?

Acharya Prashant (AP): What is professionalism all about? Is it just about serving your profession with excellence or is it something more than that? Whenever we hear the word ‘professional’, an image comes to mind. Is professionalism that image?

Clearly, there are two layers to this question.

One: Can professionalism be defined by a certain code of conduct, a certain personality, or a certain way of carrying yourself? That is the first part and that is how most of us know professionals to be. So this first layer is very important. Is professionalism about that?

Two: It is about the profession itself. If professionalism is all about being excellent, then the question is, ‘Being excellent in which profession?’

Let’s look at the first layer.

What do you do when you walk into an interview room? You start wearing clothes that look like the clothes of a professional. Right? You aren’t a professional yet; but because most of us have confused professionalism with the image of a professional, so we think professionalism is nothing but this image. You talk in a particular manner, that is called professional. You wear a particular kind of clothes, that is called as professional. You carry yourself in a particular way, and that is called professional.

Surely this layer, the first layer is a very superficial layer. Very, very superficial layer! A code of conduct, or the way of carrying yourself, or a certain persona does not mean that you are excellent in the profession. What about this profession? We are not yet taking this question. That is layer two.

Whatever the profession, wherever it is coming from, it may be an altogether external influence, but no one can know the depth of your excellence by the way you carry yourself. All this can be manipulated and it is used mostly for manipulation only. Nothing else! People work totally substance-less. They would prefer to walk and talk in certain borrowed, copied ways, and the world is deceived. The world is cute. What does the world think? ‘These must be professionals.’ Because the…