Be Professional

No matter what you do, professionalism counts – big time.

Business professionals should uphold a sense of conduct that is unparalleled. Your position or title doesn’t matter when it comes to character. Your heart, your soul, and the strength to follow your gut and be good are what count. Maintaining that high standard of quality, however, takes more than just effort. It takes a strong sense of self to truly be your best. It takes a willingness to be humble, yet fearless. Fearless when it comes to doing the right thing, that is.

When you mentor or lead a team, or you’re simply someone who is highly regarded in your company, field, or industry, you should feel an intense sense of obligation to lead by example and do the right thing. Doing things well while doing good things is the best possible treasure you can pass along.

What you’ll find is your reputation will precede you – always. If you’re a person who does the right thing and still performs at exceptional levels, you should be incredibly proud of yourself. I’m giving you a virtual pat on the back right now for all you do. You should never feel the pressure to operate otherwise. It’s just not worth it, and it will eventually impede your ability to move forward, learn, grow, and help your organization reach its true potential.

The good news is, you don’t have to do it alone. Engage with a mentor who can help you navigate toward professional growth and development in a way that lets your powerful sense of character shine. This is the person who will challenge you and push you toward a higher standard of excellence while recognizing your wins – big or small – along the way. Your mentor will help you learn from his or her successes and mistakes, ultimately transforming who you are by encouraging you to reach past your comfort zone. This is the person who will leave a lasting impact on your professional development and your life.

The strength you already have in order to be a true professional (or to be a mentor who helps someone get there) is in you; everyone has the potential to find that inner glow. When you do, hold on tight, and embrace your commitment to being honest, genuine, positive, and true in the utmost professional way. It’s quite possibly the most valuable thing you can do.


Integrity is an interesting concept because we all have our own interpretation of what’s right and wrong. Depending on what our personal values tell us, which may stem from our upbringing, our influences at home, our environment, or many other external factors, we may have varying perspectives about what we should and shouldn’t do. Deep down, however, we all have a strong understanding of good and bad. Instinctively, we sense fear, danger, hostility, and all the things that sound our internal sirens and warn us that something’s just not right.

There are also black and white rules in our society, like stopping at a stop sign when we’re driving and never stealing things that don’t belong to us. These are things we’ve all learned are the right things to do. There are external factors that teach us right from wrong, and we accept them, whether we choose to obey them or not.

Integrity, defined by Merriam-Webster as the firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values, is our interpretation of how we consistently bring the rules of society and our natural instincts together. It’s how we display our judgment and decision-making process to the world. When we operate with integrity, we select what we feel is the right thing to do, and let it shine. We embrace and display the moral and ethical code of values that define each of us.

It all starts at a young age. As my son prepares for his first day of Kindergarten today, I can only hope that the choices he makes will reflect how we have helped him interpret right from wrong by being kind, sharing, using his manners, and making good choices. His ability to choose wisely can be compromised so quickly when outside pressures and influences rise, simply because he’s still learning. His filter for right and wrong is brand new. He’ll make mistakes (we all do, even with years of experience), but if he can acknowledge them, course correct, and develop a decision-making process that isn’t influenced by peers, media, or outside sources, then we’ve done a pretty good job to help him shape his future. But that takes time, and it certainly won’t be perfect.

As adults, we should already be there, or at least pretty close. We’ve had the time it takes to understand consequences and develop strong values. We know what we should and shouldn’t do because we’ve learned from endless experiences. At this stage, it’s about choice. It’s about how we define what we’re going to do and how we react to our external environment at every moment. Do we let it steer us off course, or are we prepared to make our own choices based on what we truly know deep down is right and wrong?

Whether you’re starting Kindergarten today, or you’re well beyond your elementary school years (probably the latter!), what will you choose? Each day is a new moment. You can start now by choosing to do the right thing.

Have Values and Stick to Them

Each day when we wake up, we can choose to do the right thing. We have to be brave to step away from the crowd and follow what we know deep down is the ethical choice. It’s what will build our credibility and our reputations in the most genuine and productive way. We can be smart, talented, determined, strategic, and successful with short-term wins all over our resumes, but it’s our ability to connect with our values and let them guide our decision-making processes that will define our long-term successes and our potential to truly make a difference.

Let’s talk about the moral compass, a term we hear Dean Sandra J. Peart use in a 2016 article from Fast Company. As an alumnus of the University of Richmond’s Jepson School of Leadership Studies, I volunteer at the school often and have the privilege of working with Dean Peart. She’s an incredible inspiration and a true role model when it comes to connecting ethics and leadership. In this article, she shares a quote I’ve grown to love. Peart tells us “You have to know what your values are and ‘where the lines are that I will not cross or the things I will not do.’” She makes a point to ensure we all understand why we should never feel pressured or pushed to do things that don’t align with our own values, especially since we’re so often asked to move quickly and make critical business decisions on the fly.

I love this concept of a moral compass. In a fast-paced world where it can often seem much more efficient to take short cuts to get ahead, we can quickly lose sight of what we really should and shouldn’t do. Getting caught in a spiral of asking for forgiveness rather than permission, or constantly sacrificing what’s right for what’s easy, will generally land us in a much tougher spot than where we began.

Of course, we’ll probably make mistakes along the way, occasionally getting off track from true North. I have, and these mistakes have helped me learn and grow more than all my successes combined. The mistakes are the things we don’t forget, and they help us get back to our moral compass so we can make the right choices going forward. The more we connect with our own values, the more we know ourselves, our strengths, and where we can drive progress with the most positive approach.

It doesn’t matter what your specific values are, but it’s important to know them, to understand who you are, and to commit to how you’ll use them in the most impactful and ethical way. I challenge you to write down your top three values, and keep them close by. Honesty? Integrity? Professionalism? It’s up to you. Revisit them daily and test yourself – are you embracing them fully? Do they guide your actions? Do they reflect your strengths?

When we truly start to live by our values and find our moral compass, we won’t have to think about them any longer. They should be an intrinsic part of us, right at the core center of our being. When we’re that connected to who we are, we’ll gain trust, build genuine relationships, find purpose, and make meaningful contributions wherever we go. True leadership shines when we have values and stick to them.



Moran, G. (2016) How To Be Your Own Leadership Development Coach. Retrieved from