How to be a Professional

Johnny Gill can’t dance. Period. He can keep up when he’s dancing with Ralph and them, but he proved to us he couldn’t dance. You remember…

He tried. He put in his best shiny leather outfit and sprayed his hair with a lil extra S-Curl activator… and we appreciated it at the time, but the brother can.not.dance. Most of the video he looked like he was having a spasm. We can applaud his attempt, while simultaneously acknowledging that he was bad at it. He’s great at singing. Just not dancing. But he sings so well… and he tries so hard to get that Brooke Payne group choreo down… we lose sight of his bad dancing. And when bro gets the mic, he spazzes on that joint. Johnny Gill is a professional.

Some people attempt really hard to be good at something… but they are just not. Perhaps their lack is a function if circumstance or of skill. But it is a requirement that they do the shit. When you suck at something… you know it’s not something you are good at because you cannot execute it well, you can’t figure out how to navigate it as it changes, and you can’t move around in it. But if you are a professional, you do everything else that job, project, program, team requires like a boss. It’s so on time its early… it’s so honest it’s transparent. It is what professionalism requires. You must learn to thug that shit out.

On the tv show So You Think You Can Dance… each of the dancers has a style they prefer. Yet to win, to be considered the next big dancer… and many of the winners have gone on to have huge careers… they must be good at everything from the waltz to hip hop. Why? Well to ensure they understand the fundamentals of dance and aren’t just skilled at one modality. Teachers, must be able to communicate well, keep up with changes and new information in the subject they teach, know their students so they are aware if their strengths and weaknesses and their learning styles, and be able to articulate to students, parents, and administrators the clear expectations and goals of their classroom. Doctors must be able to adapt to changes in how in-person businesses and services are run, quell fears in their patients about their health while promoting best practices to stay healthy, educate their staff and patients, and remain dedicated to the health and well-being of patients. They can’t just salsa they must also merengue.

The pandemic has put pressure on people in their work environments in ways I have never seen in my lifetime. It is during this time, however, like any other valley, where the true Mount Rushmore level folks are made… diamonds are formed under pressure. Most of us watching a ballet never have a clue that the dancer missed a whole step or forgot a sequence and filled it in with moves of her own. She keeps moving and dancing like it was choreographed exactly as she performed it. Most of us watching a New Edition performance don’t focus on JG’s questionable dance skills. He just manages to blend in when he’s dancing because he’s gonna stand out when he sings … so I fully expect for folks to remain fucking professional during this time, even through lack, flaws, and frustration. Professionalism is remaining reliable which leads to consistency, which results in trust.

So over the course of this year, someone has been exhibiting their GROSS lack of ability to communicate. She cannot recall conversations had in person. She requires written communication as proof of what was said from others, but when I engaged her in written communication to solve a problem… this mofo tried to Big Red me…

But (1) I have a PhD in receipt collecting, (2) you wanna screenshot me, I’ve got better screenshots, and (3) fuck your office hours. If my verbal communication is questioned by you, then certainly you know I won’t ever trust or engage in verbal communication with you ever again. Everything will be in writing. Everything for Evermore.

More important than her lack of communication though, was her simultaneous lack of organization, lack of adaption, and lack of focus on the most important part of the job… those she serves. She was not reliable or consistent, so both her words and her deeds were untrustworthy. Her lack of professionalism was on display, and in that moment she was not Johnny Gill… sis couldn’t even hold a note AND she was rhythmless. Get off the stage.

I had sat through her show since March, and I could and still can appreciate that it must be difficult to keep track of and remain fully engaged in conversation when life and times are stressful. I understand that, so at first I was okay with her poor communication skills… I figured they were affected by the pandemic. But you will not talk down to me, like I’m slow, for long, for any reason. You most certainly will not do it when you can’t seem to remain dedicated to all of your other responsibilities as well. She was a teacher with no communication skills and no clue how to navigate the new and flawed way of learning. She was a doctor with poor bedside manner. A lawyer with no real analytical skills. An actuary who was bad at math. Furthermore she was a dancer who didn’t memorize choreography, practice, or have rhythm. And I have no time for her shenanigans.

So I challenged her to a dance battle.

She led with this…

And I finished her in one move…

After the issue was solved… after a whole month of her failing to respond to, acknowledge, and hear my concerns… I sent her a concise and comprehensive piece of organized prose about her behavior via email. Be very clear, don’t play with me. I will dog walk you. If you are professional, I can overlook your flaws like I hope people can overlook mine in light of my virtues. But if you want smoke, you want ‘em, I got ‘em. I will boo your ass off stage.

But if you Johnny Gill me… I will look past your bad dancing, and wait until you woo me with your “oh oh oh oh oooooooo ouuuu ooooo” on Can You Stand the Rain. That’s the true sign of a professional, even when it’s raining, they open their umbrella and…

Gene Kelly in Singing in the Rain