Are you a professional or an amateur? Make up your mind!
The writer

Are you a professional or an amateur? Make up your mind!

We can never be anything but professionals in the line of vocation we have chosen or where we show up to work every week.


The only area where I can afford to be an amateur without facing any consequences is in my hobby. I can be an amateur at football. 

However, I cannot afford to be an amateur as an executive educator and coach. Being a professional at work goes beyond the qualifications and skills of an individual at work. In almost every field, there is a minimum qualification for entry. 

Over time, one can observe differences in the output and achievement of individuals who entered the workforce or with the same qualifications. In the long run, true professionals show up at work differently.

Colleagues praise and promote them for their trailblazing results and achievements, inspiring others to follow in their footsteps.

A professional mindset makes an enormous difference over a long career:

What accounts for the significant difference in performance? The difference is in the professional’s mindset – their approach and attitude towards their work. They have a professional attitude to work. It was always there. Over the long career spanning decades, the benefits and impact of having a professional mindset begin to compound and create a significant gap in the performance of those who remain amateurs despite their qualifications.

Amateurs are everywhere:

I describe those who do not have a professional mindset as amateurs despite their qualifications. Many amateurs never grow out of their amateur mindset.

Given that many organisations are poor at correcting amateurs at work, amateurs are at every level in the organisation.

There could be CEOs and leaders exhibiting amateurish tendencies as some frontline staff keep raising the bar in the service experience they offer clients.

You may have contacts of two plumbers on your phone – Plumber A and B (as we usually save contacts). You might have had this experience where you have bypassed the most competent Plumber A and called Plumber B, who will show up on time, may have a better way of relating and be transparent on the details of the work and its delivery.

You have avoided Plumber A with a poor attitude on several occasions. Indeed, Plumber A is an amateur. Are you Plumber A or Plumber B? Are you a professional or an amateur? Let’s find out:

Professionals make a promise and keep it:

One of the defining characteristics of professionals is that they keep their promises to their clients. They show up, put aside how they feel and respond in a manner that serves the needs of their clients. Professionals love what they do. 

They pour their souls into whatever endeavour they do. Amateurs do what they love. They are happy to do what they love. If their work is not their passion, they make the world aware of it. You can easily distinguish between a professional and an amateur by the level of service they offer clients.

Professionals are also aware of the standards and regulations regarding their practice and they keep those standards. Amateurs do not see the reason for the high standards promised to clients.

They believe the company can overlook some details because customers cannot see them. Eventually, amateurs damage organisational reputations as clients eventually realise their shoddy work.

Professionals maintain a growth mindset towards their practice:

Professionals follow critical routines that enhance their chances of superior achievement. They know and practice these routines to bring out the best in them.

The professional leaders know that to get the best out of the meeting, there must be an agenda shared by all the members participating. Amateurs have a false sense of their abilities. 

They also do not appreciate the complexity of the challenge and how following a routine makes it easier to achieve the best outcome. They believe they can show up and achieve results without following any routine. 

A related mindset is the opportunities they see for growth and excellence as they follow their practice. They believe there is no limit to their skills, so they also invest in routines that help them to improve every day and achieve excellence in their craft.

The growth mindset attitude is not appealing to amateurs who believe they are masters of their craft and do not need to improve in any area of their sport.

Professionals consider the impact of their actions on the team:                     

They value the contributions of the team. They value the work that they can accomplish working with the team. Hence, they look to the health and wellbeing of the team. They are mindful of their actions and their impact on team effectiveness. Amateurs focus more on impressing the team, not with their team contribution, but their uniqueness.

Professionals lead with values and principles:

Amateurs do what they believe is convenient at any point in time. Professionals have values which serve as the foundation for their craft. They believe in transparency, offering a fair exchange in every transaction.

Amateurs are seeking to make a quick gain of the customer. They do not see how their values and principles support them to have a viable profession. The focus is only on the present rather than building trust that leads to long-term relationships.

Professionals know that how they show up matters:

Professionals demonstrate positive energy, calm confidence and a relatable demeanour in all their engagements. Amateurs sometimes overemphasise their competence and ignore the details of their presentation. They believe their work should be the basis of judgment not their relationship with those they serve.

Now you know who you are. If you are a professional, keep up the great mindset that makes all the difference. If you are an amateur, switch to professional mode. Now!

Be of good cheer.

The writer is a Leadership Development Facilitator, Executive Coach and Strategy Consultant, Founder of the CEO Accelerator Program, ( and Chief Learning Strategist at TEMPLE Advisory ( 

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