Don’t be an amateur: be a true professional (1)


I am a reviewer–a critic, if you will, and I do it because I enjoy many things that there could be so much to write about. What things? Performances, movies, eating out, and reading books.

In the many years that I have also been a mentor and teacher, one of the things I have tried to instill in my students is a sense of professionalism, because that is a very important lesson that, sadly, too many people never learn.

You might say: “I’m definitely a professional because it’s my whole career, I studied about it for several years, I’ve been doing it for several years, and I get paid a lot for it.” Believe me, you don’t need to earn money doing something to be a professional. In fact, many people who earn money (lots of it, at that) doing something are more amateur than they know or would care to admit.

So what are the things that distinguish professionals from amateurs? This new series of articles will distinguish professionals from amateurs according to several qualities–criteria, if you will.

1. Quality. A true professional will always do their utmost best at whatever job is given to them, no matter what the situation. Whether it is a paid performance or a free performance, the true professional will plan carefully, prepare as much as is possible within the given time, and deliver a performance worthy of top awards. Amateurs, on the other hand, are those who do just enough so that whatever they delivery is just good enough, just passable. They usually don’t put their whole heart and soul into what they are doing and hardly break a sweat when they do things.  They don’t go out of their way to plan extensively, study to improve their technique or style, yet expect accolades for their performance or delivery.

This is what I have always told my students when they do something: Always do your best. Do the best you can all the time, regardless of the situation.

If you don’t you are short-selling not only your clients, your customers, your audience, your readers–you are short-selling yourself because you will never learn what it is like to be the best you can be. More than cheating others of the excellent product or performance that they deserve, you are cheating yourself because you are not maximizing your potential. Anyone who does not always do their best consistently is not worthy to be called a professional. Those people are just amateurs, their product always just okay. No big awards for them here, no stars.