August 17

Professionals vs Amateurs

When we are amateurs our life was about drama, denial, and distraction — Steven Pressfield

The amateur checks email, Facebook, and Twitter first thing in the morning. The professional avoids them as much as possible.

The amateur gives into these distractions multiple times a day. The amateur craves dopamine like a junkie craves heroin. The professional recognizes that sources of distraction are toxic rocket fuel for resistance.

The amateur engages trolls and argues with critics. The professional gets back to work.

The amateur stops doing what got him there in the first place. The professional understands that momentum is the lifeblood of any creative endeavor.

The amateur gets too high on his own bullshit. The professional focuses on the process over the prize.

The amateur is overdependent on inspiration and hokey new age bullshit. The professional depends on habits.

The amateur tries to change everything at once. The professional changes one habit at a time.

The amateur shows up on occasion. The professional shows up every day.

The amateur treats the deal he made with himself a negotiable contract. The professional abides by the terms of the contract.

The amateur assumes the war of art is over, lets his guard down and gets his ass kicked. The professional realizes that we fight a daily battle in the war of art.

Amateurs live by default. Professionals are deliberate, eliminate decision fatigue and spend the bulk of their time on deep work.

There’s a constant dance that occurs between being an amateur and a professional when you’re a creator of any kind.

On the worst of days, I check email way too many times. I give in to distractions. I consume more than I create. I get nothing done. I get to the end of the day and feel like I’ve wasted precious hours of my one and only life. I play like an amateur.

On the best of days, I block distractions. My life is optimized for deep work. I get tons of things done. I look back at the day and feel satisfied. I’ve created more than I’ve consumed. I play like a professional.

Even the best of us give into the temptations of the amateur.

It’s not a one-time thing, some moment of enlightenment or movie scene where trumpets play when we turn pro. It’s something we have to do every single day. Our moments of turning pro are mundane, ordinary and without fanfare of any sort. They are simply moments when as Steven Pressfield says “stop running from our fears, turn around and face them head on.” We sit down, put brush to canvas, fingers to keyboard, pen to paper and start to do our work. Rinse, wash repeat.

And once you’ve had a taste of turning pro, you’ll realize how fulfilling it is. You’ll want to experience more of it. It’s addictive, kind of like dopamine, except the fulfillment you get from it lasts. Just because you played like an amateur yesterday, it doesn’t mean you can’t play like a pro today. Turning pro isn’t a one-time decision. It’s a choice we have to make every single day.



You may also like