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  #31   Spotlight this post!  
Unread 08-23-2009, 11:40 PM
Akash Rastogi Akash Rastogi is offline
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Re: What Happens To Your Attitude Towards Gracious Professionalism When You Leave FIR

I wanted to throw in an opinion I've had for a long time about "gracious professionalism" and how its viewed on here by many as "a way to live by" and other 'fluffy' things like that. It bothers me when people criticize others for not being "gp" about something based on how they view what "gp" is.

I don't view gracious professionalism itself as something to live by or to consider in everyday life. I believe in friendly competition, yes, but I find it amusing when another person is judged by his/her peers for what they are doing. Funny thing is who I'll be quoting on this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Schreiber View Post
I would have to say that GP is a measurement that can only apply to yourself. To apply it to another is unfair to that person/group. I would like to submit as an example a war, particularly the Crusades. Both sides felt they were acting for the best, so which side was GP and which side wasn't? Apply this to any modern day conflict. In Iraq is America being GP? GP can only be judged by the party themselves.

I preferred the days before I joined FIRST because I didn't know the muddled, eschewed, and obfuscated meanings and perceptions of this concept people call Gracious Professionalism. I like being gracious, I like being professional, but when it comes to how I act in the real world, I prefer to just consider myself an ethical and moral person. These two words, same as gracious professionalism, have their own and different meaning for me than others may perceive them.

So one thing I would like to ask of the posters on here: Do you find yourself judging the ethics or morals of another person or peer? If so, I view that as you judging someone's "level" of gracious professionalism.

And Mr. Rizzo, I respectfully disagree. I do not believe FIRST is growing apart from its roots. I do believe it is growing though, its growing in a way that's accepted by the mindsets of OUR generation. The way I perceive FIRST to be is a great organization that is successfully completing the IRST part of its name; however, nowhere in that name are the letters G and P. Perhaps when we teach our students about GP, we should help them understand what it is by using simple, well known, and well lived terms such as moral fiber, respect, ethics, and sportsmanship. I don't see a need for students to try to understand the term GP because it gets convoluted and changed by every person who hears about it, thus, there's nothing definitive to teach them.

(This is all my view, not my teams)
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Unread 08-23-2009, 11:54 PM
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Re: What Happens To Your Attitude Towards Gracious Professionalism When You Leave FIR

It doesn't have to be convoluted.

From the FIRST website:

http://www.usfirst.org/who/content.aspx?id=36

Let's not fight, please. Discuss yes, fight no. Please.
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Unread 08-23-2009, 11:59 PM
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Re: What Happens To Your Attitude Towards Gracious Professionalism When You Leave FIR

Quote:
Originally Posted by JaneYoung View Post
It doesn't have to be convoluted.

From the FIRST website:

http://www.usfirst.org/who/content.aspx?id=36

Let's not fight, please. Discuss yes, fight no. Please.
My point was how it gets convoluted and defined differently by many people, even on these forums, and then they judge others or comments of others based on their own definition.

And I was not starting a fight, I kept my post calm (doesn't transfer in text?)
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Unread 08-24-2009, 12:05 AM
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Re: What Happens To Your Attitude Towards Gracious Professionalism When You Leave FIR

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Schreiber View Post
1. GP can't be gently put into the real world.
2. without someone taking an opposite side this discussion would quickly have ended.
3. As a mentor I do try my best, I am only human, we all fail sometimes
4. Only by presenting the cold hard stuff of reality can we be sure our students are adequately informed to choose engineering as a major.
DISCLAIMER: I dissected this post and numbered them because I want to highlight a few points and discuss them individually. They are not in the context that they were wrote in originally, however I will be speaking with regards to the original post. The quote above is only to show which points I am referring to. If you want to read their context be sure to refer to the post it was quoted from.

Now, onto my discussion.

On point number one, GP isn't being put gently into the real world. The approach FIRST uses is a bit more forceful then that. If they thought it was something to be gentle with, they would have made it a suggestion rather then a basis for awards.

Secondly, thanks for presenting a more bitter view then most. Without it, we would not be able to discuss. It's kind of like the one hand clapping. If only one side talks, there isn't a conversation.

Third point. As I've read this post, I've noticed alot of people use the phrase "only human". This is a common thought that I've heard many times that I honestly don't agree with. This can be used for any short fall without many people objecting. I just don't see any of us as "only human". I know I'm human. And with that comes a great amount of ability. Look at the things we have accomplished and try and say they are "only human". Perhaps if the word "only" were removed it would be more fitting. We are human. No more or less then Isaac Newton or Mohatma Ghandi. If we fall short of the greatness they achieved, it has more to do with who we are then what we are. I aspire to no such greatness, I just go out and do my best. I will blame my failures on my ill preparations, my lack of dedication, or my circumstances. But I will never use the term "I'm only human" because it seems to belittle what it means to be human and the things a human can achieve. I am in no way trying to single out Andrew on this, but am saying this to all who have used this phrase or thought it. Think about it before you use it again, for it is mighty strong words to be used as an excuse.

Fourth point. (sorry for the rant on three, just been thinking about that one for a while) I would like to suggest the power of placebo. People tend to see what they expect to see. If you tell people how terrible things are ALL the time, the world will seem terrible to them. If you tell them how great things are ALL the time, they might believe you and the world might seem great. However, in the second instance it is more likely they will see a few bad things and be disappointed and feel betrayed. I would like to suggest we present the world as mostly positive and discuss the negative sides when they actually present themselves. With this approach, maybe they will actually see the good and the bad. Afterall, it is our job to inform. That means a unbiased view of the world. Show them the fun of engineering and the hardship that goes with it. This is the only way to truly inform. If you try to give a biased view in either positive or negative light, you are doing a disservice to the students.
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Unread 08-24-2009, 05:47 AM
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Re: What Happens To Your Attitude Towards Gracious Professionalism When You Leave FIR

I recall discussing the attitude of several new employees at work, "Oh, he's still young and not disallusioned yet. He'll learn." And yes, we all learn, and we all become somewhat disillusioned. But that's because for the most part we we have too high of an illusion in the first place. Most of us aren't going to "change the world".

That sounds cynical, but it really isn't. I prefer realistic. And I would submit that most people who do end up being in a position to change the world don't start out that way, and don't start out trying to be that way.

But being disallusioned by the world doesn't mean we have to be disallusioned about ourselves. We do what we can in our part of the world. Who knows, maybe your little assignment will turn out to be something that, taken together with a lot of other little assignments, will change the world. All along the way you can act in a professional manner, getting your job done, meeting your deadlines, producing your own quality work. And if you can be gracious about it, not complaining about your workload, not carping at the faults of others, then you will have achieved your own GP.

Now, to go off on a tangent -
Quote:
Originally Posted by JaneYoung View Post
Shouldn't FIRST's own website show the (tm) symbol for "Gracious Professionalism" and "Coopertition"?
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Unread 08-24-2009, 09:01 AM
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Re: What Happens To Your Attitude Towards Gracious Professionalism When You Leave FIR

"It has been my experience that most folks are just about as happy as they make up their minds to be." - Abraham Lincoln

The world is a terrible, terrible place. One can hardly read the news without finding innumerable stories of suffering, human and otherwise, often at the hands of other humans. It's a dog-eat-dog world, only the strong survive, the things that come to those who wait were left by those who got there first.

The world is a wonderful, wonderful place. One can hardly step outside without being inspired and awed by the natural beauty that surrounds us all. It is full of compassion, goodwill, and altruism.

Both arguments are certainly valid, and they are certainly not mutually exclusive. This is a complicated world, made more complicated by the existence of multiple complicated societies from many perspectives - geographical, racial, religious, business, socioeconomic...

The glass is both half full and half empty.

Where does that leave us? Nowhere in the FIRST Values does it discuss changing society, changing the outlook of others, making the world a better place. What it does say is one can "enjoy the satisfaction of knowing one has acted with integrity and sensitivity."

Pessimism and optimism are both contagious. If FIRST alumni saturate the marketplace and the world, and bring GP to the masses, great. If not, that's fine too. But every person who practices gracious professionalism daily and at every level can enjoy that satisfaction, and going back to Mr. Lincoln, would go a long way toward happiness.
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Unread 08-24-2009, 10:38 AM
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Re: What Happens To Your Attitude Towards Gracious Professionalism When You Leave FIR

If Gracious Professionalism is not understood, valued, and introduced to others as FIRST alumni venture forth in achieving their educational and career goals, working through hard and difficult times as they move forward - then what's the point? Business attitudes remain status quo, real world problem solving remains status quo, and the FIRST competition becomes like every other competition. A competition. There is no reason for teams to share, engineers to share, the Chairman's Award to be prized and coveted.
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Unread 08-24-2009, 01:58 PM
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Re: What Happens To Your Attitude Towards Gracious Professionalism When You Leave FIR

To tell the truth, there is a bit of GP at my work. Admittedly, I work in a place where a) we can be under a lot of stress and b) we're always interacting with the public. We have to at least act like we like to see the customers.

I've been seeing a lot of references made to point of view affecting life, and I'd like to offer this story:
Quote:
It is said that an old man was sitting by the roadside outside a large city when a young man coming from a long ways away approached him and asked, "What are the people like in this city up ahead?"

The old man answered, "What were the people like where you came from?"

The young man said, "Oh, they were thieves, dishonest, drunken rascals. I was happy to get out of there."

Said the old man, "You will find them the same in the city up ahead."

The young man went on his way saddened. No sooner had he disappeared towards the city than another young man came along from the same place and asked the old man, "What are the people like in the city ahead?"

The old man asked, "What were they like where you are from?"

The young man answered, "They were honest, industrious, happy folk, and I was sad to leave."

Quoth the sage, "You will find them the same in the city up ahead."
The old man was on to something--how you see things goes with you, and affects everything. That's why first impressions (and good reputations) are so important. If you have the right attitude, you can get a better perspective on life.
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Unread 08-24-2009, 03:00 PM
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Re: What Happens To Your Attitude Towards Gracious Professionalism When You Leave FIR

There seems to be a common misperception here, that GP does not exist in the business world. I'm surprised that no one has brought this up yet, but what about all of the numerous engineering societies in existence (SAE, IEEE, and SME just to name a few)? An integral part of their mission is for engineers to come together and share knowledge about common issues or develop standards, with the full blessing of their respective companies. If you would like to see this in action, plan on attending the SAE World Congress in Detoit next April.

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Unread 08-24-2009, 09:15 PM
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Re: What Happens To Your Attitude Towards Gracious Professionalism When You Leave FIR

Hello all, definitely have a few cents to put in here:

Quote:
Originally Posted by JaneYoung
For a few years now, I've been concerned about the cynicism of young mentors who have been through the FIRST program. I am concerned (to a lesser degree) - by the cynicism in college age students in general - but when one attaches the label, mentor, to their name, then I naturally begin to think about how cynicism, bitterness, and even ugly attitudes can affect the younger students that they mentor or say that they do. Not all college students or college mentors are cynical, bitter, or ugly but there are enough that I have had concerns. So I've wondered what happened to the attitude towards GP. Was it never there or did it disappear over time or as the students became mentors?
I have worked in retail for ~4 years now, and faced a wide variety of customers from an equally wide variety of cultural backgrounds. This is not to forget I was in robotics as a student for 4, and more or less an adviser/local team volunteer while I was hitting the books the first year of college; helping a recall campaign (spearheaded by someone who underestimated the uphill battle they were getting into looking back on it, thought passion would work just fine) in the district for the second.

Professionalism in any form is an exploitable tool. If that statement does not say "I am a natural cynic" let me lay out what formulates this, based off of real examples:

1.) Team X's sponsor (with $$$) wants Y event to go Z way. Team X's coach gets this memo. The Z way is a bit counter-productive to the ultimate goal of some experience A being granted to X's members. Coach, being the professional he/she is, has some options.
a.) Play along with this full steam. Experience A is only accomplished by the students who are literally starving for it or find a backroute.
b.) Negotiate (with caution, often requires persistence/gut and knowledge of when to back down). Experience A has a better chance of being accessible to all members. Members, and overall team, are happier (hopefully) than they would have been.

2.) Customer comes up to counter or me, wants B done. B requires C. One of many things can occur here, a few listed below.
a.) C was at one time never required. I may have, or may not know this simply by being employed for D years (notice how they either move experienced people... maybe let go of them. Then of course there is new employment. This, as far as I can tell, is a great (not necessarily good) mechanism). In either case, customer is a little uncomfortable about this, and may either go along or find an alternative option.
b.) Customer had made a phone call regarding step C. Customer service personnel on the phone, disregarding what it says both on slip or site E regarding step C says do action F in store to the customer before they arrive, which I and practically all of management are unequipped to do EFFICIENTLY (I mean, we can do it, but it will take a while to figure it out, since we RARELY ever do this, and no one has had good training on how to override C). Outcome varies.
c.) C just might require a bit of time. Considering all of the retail world promises fast service, there is a bit of an undercurrent of 'instant gratification' that eats away happy points I'll call it. I do what I need to do as quick as humanely possible, and pray the customer leaves satisfied, regardless of time consumed.

3.) Customer comes up to counter, I end up asking "How's it going?" twice or three times, instead of just once. I try to engage in some short conversation other than the usual pitching. Both things: somewhat to no avail. I fully understand that I am there to do business, work, my job, be a cog for the retail machine. But this is a human machine I constantly think to myself, where is the social aspect to this? Where is the life in it, the spirit that drives it? Somedays I just wish I could tell the customer to "BREATHE" for once without much risk. "You made it, you will get what you need to done. Just relax and let me handle it. I know this machine well."

Looking at just this (only a part btw), it is easy to build up layers of cynicism and get a bit depressed over it. The key though, at least from my perspective at this point in life, is to realize that in all likelihood, fighting these issues will not acquire the desirable goal, and progress in these areas is a bit of a myth in the short term. You must deal with this, and crack a smile somehow. Thank you Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Craig Ferguson (It's a Great Day For America Everybody!!!), the Wait Wait Don't Tell Me cast, Jay Leno, Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, MetaFilter, Dilbert, XKCD, faith in God, and many many more for giving the tools to do this on a regular basis. Only then will cynicism die (Courage the Cowardly Dog comes to mind...).

Admittedly, cynicism consumed me for a short while as I drilled through community college and still managed to crank out A grades on 18, 19, and 15+Lots of reading credit hour loads. This summer, I have been working hard to develop an attitude that can deal with this residual cynicism, to a good bit of success. I still have some facts and cynical myths to sort out, but this battle is becoming close to done and over with. Slowly but surely the tin foil hat is coming off and being put in a melting pot.

Slowly, but surely, the world is looking a bit better. Slowly, but surely, I am developing a drive that can carry me and eventually those I come into contact with to do good great things. Slowly, but surely, Gracious Professionalism is coming back into view, with the disconnect being casted away along with the cynicism and events that led to it pass away.

Slowly, but surely, so long as I do not lose focus and will, the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi becomes functional and meaningful, and somewhat of a definition of GP.

Jane, I hope I was not too long winded, and I hope I gave you an answer to your question: my attitude towards Gracious Professional is a progressing development encapsulated here. Peace.
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Unread 08-25-2009, 03:22 PM
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Re: What Happens To Your Attitude Towards Gracious Professionalism When You Leave FIR

Quote:
Originally Posted by GaryVoshol View Post
I recall discussing the attitude of several new employees at work, "Oh, he's still young and not disallusioned yet. He'll learn." And yes, we all learn, and we all become somewhat disillusioned. But that's because for the most part we we have too high of an illusion in the first place. Most of us aren't going to "change the world".
Gary, I thought about this one for a while... and at first the very first part rang very true. I've heard it many times as well. Maybe even uttered it once or twice. I've seen the political ways of this world, I've even seen the political ploys of FIRST... we all feel disallusioned at one point or another.

But Im also a big proponent of that this world is what you make of it. Are there days where I can't get myself to feel the world is positive? Yup. But overall, I hope that I am making this world all that I can.

Now for the part "most of us aren't going to change the world". I've said it before and said it again... when I graduated high school, my goal in starting 229 was just simply "to inspire just one student the way I had been inspired". 11 years and two teams later, I'm in awe of how many kids 229 and 1511 have inspired. And I will be a little selfish here... YUP - I did that! My one little goal, pushing past the "college mentors dont know enough", is what founded 229 and then 1511. I would like to think that this "changed the world" even just a little, for the better. I could ramble on about individual student stories, but many of those are in other threads. I think we have to WANT to change the world and BELIEVE that we can change the world for anything to work.

Are we going to completely change the culture overnight? NO. Are we going to make businessess not be greedy? NO. Will things someday not revolve around money and have pretty pink roses everywhere? Heck no.

But to go back to the original topic... my answer to the solution is in the way I run my team. I dont disallusion them. I dont pretend that everything is and should be GP all the time. I often tell them the cold hard facts. I tell them about the politics inherant in corporate culture, politics in FIRST, politics in the school system etc. I try to shield them from having to deal with it, but I let them see the reality. I hope by doing that they will have realistic expectations of the world and realize that if they really WANT to see a change, it is COMPLETELY up to them.

But the idea for change HAS to be realistic. Plain and simple companies have to make profit. But several companies have shown us that they can have fun doing it and create a great culture where their employees can be open and honest, and can help create the culture (which usually adhere's to GP). Is every engineering business like that?? HECK NO. Are 50% of them like that?? I Highly doubt it. But its up to us to start the wave... if an entire generation comes in, believing that they can make money AND be graciously professional, and they do NOT allow themselves to become jaded and cynical, pushing past all the current politics.. eventually, when they become managers, they will be able to instill that culture... and we will have succeeded.
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Unread 08-31-2009, 05:15 PM
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Re: What Happens To Your Attitude Towards Gracious Professionalism When You Leave FIR

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You would prefer I had lied and said that the real world was full of roses and bunnies and rainbows? I could do that but I felt it was more important to let the students know the real world doesn't want GP, it wants profit.
No! I would say you did the right thing! I was trying to say that I think preventing pessimism from creeping into students would be a pointless endeavor.
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Unread 09-02-2009, 11:13 AM
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Re: What Happens To Your Attitude Towards Gracious Professionalism When You Leave FIR

I believe that the effectiveness of what we call GP (it goes by other names outside of FRC) cannot be judged early in one's life. It's a much longer-term investment, yet offers surprisingly high returns. Just like 401(k) plans, the important thing is to keep making contributions even when it seems there's no reward for it.
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Unread 09-02-2009, 01:53 PM
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Re: What Happens To Your Attitude Towards Gracious Professionalism When You Leave FIR

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As students, and perhaps mentors, graduate, leave, or move on from FIRST, what happens to your attitude towards Gracious Professionalism? Towards competing like crazy and working together at the same time? Towards building community and partnerships?

The world is out there and reality is out there, too. I think there is plenty of room for GP to be a part of that reality, helping to build a stronger world.

What do you think?

Jane
GP is something used by people to shut up others or to do un-GP things themselves. If you are an $@#$@#$@# you either a.) are enough of one and become successful (Jim Cramer model) b.) people call you out and don't trust you, and you are your own worst enemy.

GP isn't a lie nor is it the truth, GP is a handy slogan and montra that has turned into a religion, and it shouldn't be. If you are wondering and worrying about GP, then something is wrong. (note xkcd comic, replace voting machine and antivirus with FIRST and GP)
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Unread 09-02-2009, 02:11 PM
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Re: What Happens To Your Attitude Towards Gracious Professionalism When You Leave FIR

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GP is something used by people to shut up others or to do un-GP things themselves. If you are an $@#$@#$@# you either a.) are enough of one and become successful (Jim Cramer model) b.) people call you out and don't trust you, and you are your own worst enemy.

GP isn't a lie nor is it the truth, GP is a handy slogan and montra that has turned into a religion, and it shouldn't be. If you are wondering and worrying about GP, then something is wrong. (note xkcd comic, replace voting machine and antivirus with FIRST and GP)
No offense, and not to argue... but this post seems to represent EXACTLY what Jane was talking about... From your profile Joe, you are likely just past college (or maybe a grad student?)... but it seems to be exactly what Jane was asking or concerned about in her initial post.

Can you ellaborate on what causes you to believe this? What about GP has caused you to be so jaded?

Personally I will agree that *sometimes* GP is taken to an extreme, but I have to say that is a severe minority of the time... overall I think it was a very intriguing way for FIRST to start to try to change the culture, and when used correctly and not overdone, it is a great slogan... not something to worship or throw in people's faces, but a great way to explain how FIRST is different and more of what its about.
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