What is Gracious professionalism to you?

I am writing a news article that may appear in the San Diego Union Tribune to bring recognition to FIRST and Team San Diego. I am writing about the entire FRC experience in the 3 years my team has been doing it.

I have my own answer but I would also like the opinions of others. I really only have one question.

What does Gracious professionalism mean to you?

There have been related threads in the past well worth reading:

What is GP really? (2003),
Jessica Boucher’s paper on GP originated here:
Early GP? (2004).

To me, Gracious Professionalism is about showing respect, being helpful and developing trust.

When we share knowledge, support one another, and strive to improve our community, we’re “walkin’ the talk” of GP.

As a member of a rookie team, Gracious Professionalism was an astonishing thing to come across in our first FIRST competition. By the beginning of our second regional, we had taken the concept to heart. We found a rookie team at Vegas that had misunderstood the rules and basically had tried to lift themselves, not another robot, but they couldn’t even do that very well. They had a lot of issues, but since our robot was actually done, unlike in the PNW regional we decided to help them out. We had at least one mentor and 2 or 3 students in their pit at all times, we made them a list of parts that we didn’t have that they would need to find or go and buy, and helped them completely redesign their robot and make it fully functional and inspection worthy by the end of Thursday. We ended up going on to win that regional, as well as the rookie all star award, but that didn’t make us feel nearly as good as when they were seeded ninth, and were called into the semifinals when another team broke down. It was amazing when they broke down during their first match of the semis, and since they didn’t have a pit on the field, we took them into ours, found the problem, and gave them the parts to finish. Their matches were just as exciting, maybe even a little more than our own! At that point is wasn’t about winning, it was about getting them on the field, and trying to get them to move onto the finals. We didn’t even stop to think about how if they did, we would have played against them in the next match.

As a rookie, it is stories like these, which I have heard many of, that makes Gracious Professionalism. It’s the constant announcements of teams that need a part, and then the fact that they actually receive it, so you really only hear the requests once. It was funny because our coach’s name is Robert Steele, and so we requested a piece of “Roberts Steel” in the pits in Vegas, and three teams came up to us and asked if what they had would work.

Gracious Professionalism is the better-than-real-life environment that is created when people of all ages get excited about science, math, and technology in a competitive atmosphere, and want to do anything to make everyone else enjoy it just as much as they do, and to perform at the best of their abilities and beyond.

I would really love to see what you come up with for your article. Could you maybe post it? Or just email it to me at fighterpirate16@hotmail.com? That would be great! I think this is a great topic, and a great way to get the outside community excited about FIRST. I am definitely now thinking about ways to incorporate a GP aspect into our recruitment and fund raising plans and presentations…

Often times teams bribe me to pass their robot for inspection. Being the gracious professional that I am, I take the money, and put it right back into the program, because its the GP thing to do.

j/k guys, lol

Seriously now, an instance of gracious professionalism I practiced today was telling the girl working at McDonald’s that she is doing a good job, because probably no one ever does.

Stephi Rae -
This is a wonderful story. Mr. Steele has kept me up a little bit with Skunk Works tails but I haven’t heard this one. Your '07 year sounds like it has been a winner in many ways - keep up the good Works in '08 and beyond!

I’ve found that Gracious Professionalism can often be explained to newcomers by contrasting it to Obnoxious Incompetence. :slight_smile:

Being gracious involves politeness, respect, tolerance, and an ability to keep ego out of the way. Being professional involves learning, practice, and attention to detail. To me, being Graciously Professional means that you do what is right, you do it well, and you do it without getting in other people’s faces.

Gracious Professionalism means so many things. It makes everyone strive to work harder and entices everyone to live up to higher expectations. It gives everyone a humanitarian challenge to work for.

It also just sounds very complicated and worth the effort. Really, how often do people outside of FIRST tell you to use gracious professionalism? This is something that gives all of we students a quality that most are not consciously aware of. This is what determines what kind of person you will turn out to be. And with this kind of standard, I know that I won’t become someone that I would be ashamed of. It makes me have higher standards for myself and for my team.

It’s through gracious professionalism, that FIRST has become the community that it is. Sure, it’s competitive, but we also learn a lot of skills, and not all of them have to do with math/science, or engineering. We make friends with other teams, and once a bond is there, it is rarely broken. There is a lot to be said about what gracious professionalism has done to FIRST and the people within it. Without it, FIRST really would just be a program with a lost motive.

Thanks, David, for the links to old threads. And to Jessica for sharing her writing assignment as a CD whitepaper. The threads and the paper are well worth reading, or re-reading, for all of us.

Just another data point that might be of historical interest. The first time I saw the words Gracious Professionalism used in connection with FIRST was during Woodie Flowers’ talk at the 1997 FRC Kickoff in Manchester. He used a rapid-fire set of PowerPoint slides, about 60 or so for a 15 minute talk. It was aimed at adult mentors, because that year only two adult mentors per team were invited to the Kickoff. The GP slide simply said, “Teach Gracious Professionalism” in big letters, splashed diagonally across a purple background. I don’t recall the exact words Woodie used to describe the concept, but I vividly recall that he summarized with the now-famous acid test for GP – it makes grandmothers proud.

That’s great! You should put that in your signature!:smiley:

For me, Gracious Professionalism is being willing to give up your only spare to another team in order to help them compete, and not check back to get it later.

Gracious Professionalism is being willing to spend all day away from your own pit helping someone else, but also being willing and able to step out of their way when you become unable to help anymore, one once they have their focus and fixes down.

All around, GP is being willing to be useful wherever you’re needed, and with whatever you have.

Gracious professionalism is the being able to accept defeat, humble, and willing to give a helping hand. It is the ability to ask for help and work together to achieve something great. FIRST definitely exemplifies gracious professionalism.

Or giving up your only spare, then when you need that part later, instead of requesting it back, you check around to see if other teams have one. This is one example of something that would definitely never happen anywhere else.

to me, gracious professionalism is not being a jerk, keeping your cool, helping others, and playinf for fun, and not getting overly competetive.