Emotions and professionalism
When we observe a professional at work, be it a military officer, a dog-training instructor, or a psychotherapist, we admire their cool detachment, focus on the goal, and clarity of action in circumstances where anyone would have melted down. It is as if this man possesses a superpower that shields him from the poison arrows of emotion. This is partly true. After all, over the years of contact with dangerous situations, the “skin” of a professional inevitably hardens, turning into a callus or a shell. But I think it’s about something else.
To become a high-caliber specialist in any field, one has to pass through the sieve of one’s experience a huge number of real situations that differ in form but are repeated in essence. With time the professional’s eye begins to distinguish in any chaos the threads of order, the basic patterns that emerge like a frosty pattern on glass. Thus, the astronomer reads the starry sky like a book, while the philistine simply gazes into the abyss with his mouth open in admiration.
As long as the patterns are not obvious, the would-be professional feels discomfort, frustration, and anger. Uncertainty breeds anxiety, misunderstanding leads to mistakes, and lack of control generates a series of negative surprises. The student experiences a gamut of emotions in the process and after the fact. But the repetition of the situation gives insight, as in Spielberg’s “Bridge of Spies.” There, a lawyer tells a Soviet spy that the U.S. authorities might send him to the electric chair, but the spy replies phlegmatically: “I see.” The lawyer is shocked: “Aren’t you worried?” To which the spy shrugs, “Would that help?”
Professionalism is the understanding that there is no point in worrying. Either the accumulated knowledge is not enough, and then nothing will help anyway. Or sweat, blood and tears of learning were not in vain and the professional will solve the problem in one way or another.
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