The difference between amateurs and professionals

Here are some of the differences between amateurs and professionals.

#1 Amateurs make it look effortful, Professionals make it look effortless.

You have to put in more effort to make something appear effortless.

Professionals know that elegant performances are the result of a large volume of gritty practice.

Small things become big things.

#2 Amateurs play the table, Professionals set the table.

Professionals play games they are uniquely well-suited to win.

If they don’t like the way the table is set, they flip it over.

They set the table in a way that favors their edge and then make their opponent play on it.

#3 Amateurs love the prize, Professionals love the process.

You’ll never make it if the view at the summit is the only thing motivating you to keep climbing.

The hunt has to be just as exciting as the meal at the end.

Professionals truly fall in love with the process.

#4 Amateurs blame others, Professionals are accountable.

In the wake of a failure:

The Amateur looks outward—bad luck, unfair circumstances, a cheating opponent.

The Professional looks inward—lack of preparation, gaps in routine, uneven intensity.

Accountability breeds progress.

#5 Amateurs fear being wrong, Professionals enjoy it.

Professionals have retrained their minds to embrace new information that forces a change in viewpoint.

They view each “software update” as an improvement upon the old.

Open mindsets rule the world.

#6 Amateurs hope for good breaks, Professionals create them.

Amateurs enter the arena with their fingers crossed. Professionals enter the arena with a plan.

They realize that some of what we call luck is the macro result of 1,000s of micro actions.

Professionals create more luck.

#7 Amateurs are a part of their environment, Professionals are the master of it.

It’s important to have a plan—but a plan is useless if the environment is unsuited to following it.

Professionals create their environment, they don’t just exist in it.

They dictate the terms.

amateurs and professionals photographer

#8 Amateurs attribute success to skill and failure to luck, Professionals understand the role of both.

The Professional recognizes the role of skill and luck in every outcome.

They focus on the controllable factors.

They create an environment where luck is more likely to strike.

#9 Amateurs fear incompetence, Professionals own it.

When faced with their own incompetence:

The Amateur flails wildly in an attempt to distract from the obvious gap.

The Professional enlists support to cover the incompetence and repositions the game board to avoid its exposure.

#10 Amateurs enter with 100 mediocre moves, Professionals enter with 1 perfect move.

Professionals know their unique edge—they play their game.

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” – Bruce Lee

#11 Amateurs fear failure, Professionals embrace it.

Our greatest moments of growth often stem directly from our greatest failures.

Professionals don’t accept failure as inevitable, but they certainly don’t fear it either.

Remember: You will fail. Embrace it. Fail smart and fast.

#12 Amateurs are flashy, Professionals are relentless.

Many people are able to produce bursts of energy—few are able to produce consistent, steady flows, day-in day-out.

The former is flashy, but the latter is relentless.

Never bet against the person who just keeps showing up.

#13 Amateurs are patient with actions and impatient with results, Professionals are impatient with actions and patient with results.

Professionals play long-term games—they delay gratification.

But they simultaneously embrace that long-term games are won through tiny daily actions.

#14 Amateurs act quickly, Professionals act methodically.

When faced with a unique challenge:

The Amateur leaps into motion, believing that forward motion is progress.

The Professional moves slow—pauses, thinks, and acts.

Slow down to speed up. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.

#15 Amateurs press, Professionals wait.

When pressure and stress levels elevate:

The Amateur is uncomfortable—they press in an effort to fast-forward to the finish.

The Professional is comfortable—they observe.

The Professional is born in the pressure, built through the stress.

#16 Amateurs seek recognition, Professionals seek legacy.

Amateurs do it for the pat on the back—the approval, the words of affirmation, the champagne.

Professionals do it for something bigger—they don’t need approval.

They’re building something that lasts long after they’re gone.

#17 Amateurs let the day come to them, Professionals have a routine.

The greatest performers in any craft share one thing in common:

They have a routine and they stick to it.

Greatness is simply the result of tiny daily actions done well—over and over and over again.

#18 Amateurs try to be good at everything, Professionals identify their unique edge and exploit it.

The Professional is:

(1) Self-aware to determine their unique edge.

(2) Strategic to set the table to favor that edge.

(3) Ruthless to exploit that edge on the table they set.

Written by Sahil Bloom