When I was in my early 20s, just starting out, I showed tremendous interest in taking my amateur skills to the next level. I was addicted to learning. I was drawn to the information available online, in textbooks, and other published articles. Basically, I felt, and still feel today, that there is a void in my knowledge and I knew that I had to work endlessly to catch up.
“If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse.” Marv Dunphy
Over the years I learned that there is a huge difference between being a professional and being an amateur. The time it takes to be knowledgeable, experienced, and confident in your value can seem daunting. But I’ve learned that when you focus the base of your commitment on intelligence, success, and values you’ll pull in knowledge to you that the rest of the world is having difficulty finding.
The ability to be successful, to become a professional and shed aside the amateurism, has nothing to do with the age of a person. It has to do with the maturity and discipline a person needs to have in order to truly be called a professional.
If you lack experience, are ruled by doubt, have limited skills, don’t have strong values, and offer limited value to your market then expect that you will only attract amateur level opportunities. However, if you are skillful, experienced, well read, know the value of your skills, have a strong moral compass, and strive to dominate your sector then you are a professional. If you can’t spot the difference just yet, here are some traits that you’ll find in professionals vs amateurs.
- Professionals know what they want, and go for it. Amateurs have somewhat of an idea, but not really, and certainly don’t take the action needed to accomplish it.
- Professionals plan for the future and work to build a foundation and infrastructure that will help provide a good future for their business and family. Amateurs live only for the moment and plan mostly around what they’ll do today.
- Professionals know a good opportunity when they see it. They are honest with their expectations and let people know what it will take. An amateur avoids. They ignore setting finite details or taking a project too seriously.
- Professionals know that they must be sociable, but understand that in order for them to make strides in their career they’ll have to focus, have discipline and work harder than anyone else. Amateurs spend time networking with friends and never move up the value chain by offering their market more value as time goes on.
- Professionals have integrity. They mean what they say, and say what they mean. Amateurs makes promises but don’t follow through.
- Professionals know they will get rejected and told no but they put themselves out there anyway. Amateurs are afraid of rejection and remain passive to keep their pride intact.
- Professionals focus on providing true value. Amateurs simply deliver the product or service.
I know that closing the gap between these differences requires time and there are certainly some grey areas when amateurs show signs of professionalism and professionals show signs of amateur activities. However, the quickest way to identify a professional person from an amateur: an amateur has no big singular goal.
How do you tell the difference between a professional vs an amateur in your profession?