In his book, Turning Pro, Steven Pressfield teaches us how to navigate the passage from amateur life to professional practice.
These are my takeaways from reading the book.
The amateur is easily distracted.
The work can often involve solitude and silence. The professional leverages the solitude and silence as opportunities to focus and channel her energy onto the work.
The amateur tries to minimize the solitude and silence by getting himself distracted. Engaging in social media and busy work are two favorite activities of the amateur.
The amateur seeks instant gratification.
Most of us look for the low hanging fruits to pick. The professional does the hard work of planting trees to grow the fruits.
The amateur is jealous.
As an amateur, we over-identify our work for ourselves. That means we often take everything that affects our work personally. It also means we often find it difficult to see things through other people’s eyes.
The professional also seeks to make changes with someone or through someone, but the pro practices empathy instead of jealousy. The professional knows that not everyone knows what she knows and not everyone wants what she wants. Different viewpoints are OK by the professional.
The amateur lacks compassion for himself.
In our hearts, we know we are often hiding from being the best we can be. We know we were meant for better things, but we find ways to avoid hard work. Practicing empathy on ourselves and not getting into the self-downward spiral is the first step going from being an amateur to being a professional.
The amateur seeks permission.
The professional knows the responsibilities are taken, not given. The amateur waits for another authority to give him the responsibilities. Without explicit permission, the amateur refuses to take actions, even when it is always his turn all along.