In defining Professionalism in terms of integrity and success we could do a lot worse than to start with an Ernest Hemingway quote!
There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.Ernest Hemingway
Now to paraphrase, and expand this, a little.
Success comes, not from being better than the rest, but from overcoming, and learning from, our own mistakes.
Only we can judge our success; because only we know what our success looks like.
Following someone else’s path or comparing ourselves to others in terms of status or material gain are unlikely to produce happiness or success.
No one should be able to hold you to any higher standard than that which you impose on yourself. That is to say, the standards you hold yourself to should already be higher than anyone else’s expectations.
Don’t commit to anything based on uncertainty, only commit if you are willing and know you can do it. Never accept a task if there is an assumption someone else will accept all or part of it on your behalf, work in known-knowns not unknown-unknowns.
Accepting Defaults and Ethics
Because the only certain thing about the future is, it’s coming! You should never just accept the defaults you are given, these are rarely stacked in your favour, but any defaults you come to define for others should be in their best interests, and never your own.
You don’t do the right thing because it always works out, or because it’s easy, it’s not! You do the right thing because it’s just that; the right thing to do!
A good book on this subject is Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness