There are formal definitions for one who is a professional and one who is an amateur, generally pertaining to the ability to earn payment for his or her skills/occupation, but I prefer to look at someone’s mindset and actions.
As I began writing my own dichotomy, I remembered it’s already written so well in Book II of The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, which is titled “Turning Pro.”
Here is the first entry:
PROFESSIONALS AND AMATEURS
Aspiring artists defeated by Resistance share one trait. They all think like amateurs. They have not yet turned pro.
The moment an artist turns pro is as epochal as the birth of his first child. With one stroke, everything changes. I can state absolutely that the term of my life can be divided into two parts: before turning pro, and after.
To be clear: When I say professional, I don’t mean doctors and lawyers, those of “the professions.” I mean the Professional as an ideal. The professional in contrast to the amateur. Consider the differences.
The amateur plays for fun. The professional plays for keeps.
To the amateur, the game is his avocation. To the pro it’s his vocation.
The amateur plays part-time, the professional full-time.
The amateur is a weekend warrior. The professional is there seven days a week.
The word amateur comes from the Latin root meaning “to love.” The conventional interpretation is that the amateur pursues his calling out of love, while the pro does it for money. Not the way I see it. In my view, the amateur does not love the game enough. If he did, he would not pursue it as a sideline, distinct from his “real” vocation.
The professional loves it so much he dedicates his life to it. He commits full-time.
That’s what I mean when I say turning pro.
Resistance hates it when we turn pro.
Professionals also respect the time and energy of others as that of a professional.
I love to work with professionals and individuals who are ready to turn pro.
(psst…If that sounds like you, Unreal Collective is for you).