A Professional Always Specializes

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Rules of Thumb, skmurphy

I watched the Grey Fox recently as was struck by two pieces of dialog.   Richard Farnsworth plays Bill Miner, “the Grey Fox” a train robber and “gentleman bandit.”

When asked by another ex-convict to take up robbing banks instead of robbing trains he answers:

Bill Miner: “A professional always specializes.”

I first heard this line when the movie came out in 1982 and I took it to heart.

Later he decides to leave his sister’s house and start robbing trains again.

Sister: “But I thought things were going so well.  You have work and a place with us. What will you do?

Miner: “I will head down Portland way and so some prospecting.”

Sister: “The Gold Rush is over Bill.”

Miner: “Seems like I missed out on all of the good opportunities.”

Sister: “Please stay.”

Miner: “I have realized something about myself.  I have to act on it. I am just no good at work that’s planned by other heads. I’ve got ambitions in me that just won’t quit.”

This conversation reminded me of several I had with my father. He was independent in his own way, as was his father–and by all accounts his grandfather. He wasn’t against entrepreneurship, but he felt the legal profession would provide more security.

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