I often watch a lot of part-timers work quite unprofessionally and not being dedicated to their work. I’ve even asked some of my friends why they are unprofessional to their work – whether that is dressing shabbily or not being dedicated to finishing something they promised they would finish – and the answer I usually get is that they don’t get paid enough; if they were paid above the minimum wage, they would put more effort into their work.
The case is not different when considering those in full-time employment, either. Even professionals I know who earn what one would call a good salary (for the brains they have at least) are unprofessional and not dedicated sometimes.
When I lived in Mumbai I was doing an internship with a friend, he was my best mate. We were getting work experience for about £120 a month. We earned about £3 a day. I spent £1.20 on travel a day, as did he. I wasn’t always as professional as I am today, if I may claim to be professional 🙂 But looking at my best mate, I learnt from the streets of Mumbai what no book could teach me.
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My best mate had lost his father at a young age. Whilst doing his final year at college, he lost his mum. He was kicked out of the home that he was living in, as he didn’t have the government privilege to live in there. He was on his own. For a year I didn’t know where he was; he spent about a year in his village, giving up his studies, giving up the work experience and going away without a word.
And then suddenly out of no-where he appeared again. He completed his final year and finished his work experience. The guy was crazy enough to complete what he had started.
I asked him why he was being a fool – why not just get a job and move on from there. And he answered that he had to honour the commitment to finish off his college. And the work experience, even though only provided £3/day was worth doing for the future. The guy was an orphan, lived with his friends’ family till domestic fights forced him to spend a night or two at the train station before a different family took him in for a few days. In this circle of grave injustice he remained professional.
From him and from his experience on the streets of Mumbai I learnt that, in the face of grave injustice or trouble, you have to be professional and dedicated to your work. It doesn’t matter how your personal life is; being professional doesn’t mean you have to earn hundreds of thousands of pounds…Being professional is a choice you make, a choice that defines you. It shouldn’t matter whether you earn £3 or £30,000.
So think about this guy somewhere on the streets of Mumbai, being professional whilst earning no more than £5 a day, so you have no reason to let down your work.
If any of you are wondering, I am not in contact with him. He doesn’t have a permanent address and his mobile number changed a couple of years ago. When I see him next he is due a punch, but until then his experience serves a reminder that professionalism doesn’t depend on your salary. It depends on you.