When I say the word “Professor” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Is it Doc Brown from Back to the Future? Is it the image of sitting in a classroom while being lectured with hundreds of other students? Or is it as a kid watching Bill Nye perform an experiment? Whatever the image is we all know the type of person you’re talking about when someone says, “They’re like a professor’.
Professors have some unique traits that give them this reputation. Some of the things we think of when the word "professor" is mentioned are:
Professors have the highest regard for rules
Professors are cautious but can easily become distracted
Professors are often unaware of their surroundings
The end result is the professor tends to not notice all of the exposure around them and while they respect the rules they may become unaware that they are breaking them.
So let’s look at where the professor falls when applying the S.A.F.E. Model.
Stays in Control – How well do you maintain control under stress?
Aware of Surroundings – Are you aware of what’s going on around you?
Follows Rules – Do you respect rules or are they merely a guideline that can be bent or broken?
Exhibits Caution – Are you comfortable with risk, do you seek thrills?
The area where the professor is most likely to fall short is “Aware of Surroundings”. So with that in mind let’s take a look at someone who exhibits the classic tendencies of the professor profile.
The Professor – Phil Dunphy of ABC’s Modern Family
One of the most successful television shows over the past seven years has been Modern Family, and what would Modern Family be without the lovable husband, father, and realtor Phil Dunphy?
Phil truly fits the profile of the professor. Here is how Phil measures up against the S.A.F.E. model:
Stays in Control – Phil likes to stay in control, and he loves a good plan. Whether it’s mapping out how to execute a flawless Thanksgiving dinner, planning the perfect family road trip, controlling everything in his living room from his iPad, or simply beating his wife in a race to the restaurant, Phil likes to account for what might happen. Phil is uncomfortable when he finds himself not control.
Aware of Surroundings – If there’s one glaring blind spot for Phil it’s his lack of awareness. I can think of two great examples where awareness causes Phil some major problems.
The first is the time Phil was heading to Family Camp. Family Camp is a camping event where people are divided up into teams, and the teams are named after colors. Phil thought it would be cool to come up with a catchy slogan based on the name of his team. Phil being captain of the white team came up with the slogan, “If you ain’t white, you ain’t right”. He then decided to wear the shirt during the cab ride to camp, a ride that was given by an African-American taxi driver. After arriving, Phil couldn’t figure out why the driver was so upset. Not exactly what you would call aware.
The next example of Phil’s lack of awareness is when he decided to go to the gym where he thought he had made a new friend, a friend who had attended the same college. The problem was Phil did not realize that his new friend was gay, and he had basically invited his new friend back to his house to watch the game. The new friend had interpreted this as a date. Even after the date had begun, Phil was oblivious to the situation.
Phil’s lack of awareness makes for funny and enjoyable viewing, but I’m happy I don’t have to work with Phil on a daily basis.
Follows Rules – Phil follows rules, especially when it comes to his job. Phil takes the “Realtor Code” very seriously. So much so that he puts the code and his clients before the sale; and it often bothers him when others do not. Phil likes rules so much he created his own set to live by, or as he calls them Phil’s-osophy.
Here are a few quotes from Phil’s-osophy:
“If you love something, set it free. Unless it’s a Tiger.”
“The most amazing things that can happen to a human being will happen to you, if you just lower your expectations.”
“Always look people in the eye. Even if they’re blind. Just say ‘I’m looking you in the eye’”
“Success is 1% inspiration, 98% perspiration and 2% attention to detail.”
Exhibits Caution – Phil tries to be cautious, however, his lack of awareness sometimes presents problems; like the time Phil was locked out of a house he was scheduled to show to a prospective buyer. He decided the best way into the house was to climb through an unlocked window…only to step into a snake tank where he lost his shoe. The plan was good, but his lack of awareness overrode the caution he exhibited.
As you can see Professors have strengths, however, they also have some significant blind spots. The key is to know your blind spots and figure out a way to account for them in your day to day activity.
Next time we will discuss the Maverick profile.