The Professional vs. The Amateur

The amateur plays for fun. The professional plays for keeps.
— Steven Pressfield

I used to think about professionalism only in the career space. I had to have a professional attitude and work ethic because well, there's a lot of money on the line and you know how serious people get about money.

I read Steven Pressfield's War of Art to help with creativity struggles I was having. In the book, Steven describes resistance and what it means to be a professional. After reading it, I began to think about not only being a professional in my career but in all aspects of my life. Why limit professionalism to my career? I thought it would be an interesting experience so I started to incorporate professionalism into the rest of my life and boy, oh boy was that a good move. 

Before I get buck, here are the main differences between an amateur and a professional.


An amateur is...

  • EGOTISTIC: An amateur is insecure and ego-driven. Whether it's self-preservation, doing it for the "likes", or jealousy, their ego will always limit their potential.


  • DISTRACTED: An amateur is an addict. Addicted to instant gratification, novelty, or binge-escaping real life through social media, Netflix, or sports. This indulgence is a form of procrastination. The amateur knows that more important things need to get done, but they always run away.


  • SCARED: The amateur is afraid of failure, success, people's opinions, poverty, loneliness, death, etc. They allow fear to control their lives.

A professional is...

  • STRONG: A pro is secure with themselves. Putting their ego aside, they take responsibility for their actions and don't make excuses. They stay true to their beliefs and aren't afraid to ask for help. While the amateurs are busy complaining, the pros are running laps around them.


  • GROWING: Pros don't fear failure. Just like a muscle, they understand that if they want to grow, they have to experience pain. Pros are proactive in the face of adversity, getting things done because they know it's their responsibility. Amateurs sit on the sideline, watching the pros achieve greatness.


  • DISCIPLINED: Pros know that focus is a skill. That it needs to be cultivated and practiced in order to be affective. A pro doesn't procrastinate. They know checking things like social media every 15 minutes will destroy their ability to focus. While amateurs are busy distracting themselves, the pros are coming for the throne.

The difference between a professional and an amateur comes down to this: The amateur doesn't want it bad enough. Their actions of self-sabotage prove that they don't really want it. The amateur knows what they want to do, but end up getting in their own way and fucking everything up.

When we turn pro, we stop running from our fears. We turn around and face them.
— Steven Pressfield

I should be dead. I'm playing with house money till the day I actually die. I turned pro when I decided to stop wasting my life by spending countless hours browsing the internet, social media, and watching TV. To be clear, I still do those things, but don't indulge at the expense of getting more important shit done.


Life of a Professional

For the professional, the stakes are high and real.
— Steven Pressfield
In the game of life,  I play for keeps.

In the game of life, I play for keeps.

  • MONEY: A pro knows what money is and isn’t. I know that money is just a tool for trade. I don’t trade money for happiness because that that will never work. I don’t trade money to get rid of insecurities because that security is fleeting at best. I trade money for things I need. When I needed a new camera, I used money to trade for one. A pro uses money as a tool, an amateur believes money will solve problems it was never designed to fix.


  • WORK: A pro executes. I get what used to fill 10 hours worth of work done in 5-7 hours through deep, concentrated work. I limit distractions with apps like and by putting my phone in the other room on do not disturb. A pro gets their shit done, an amateur is inefficient and easily distracted.


  • HEALTH: If you don't have health you don't have anything. I consistently eat healthy and powerlift to take care of my physical health while practicing self-development to improve my mental health. A pro does things to live longer, an amateur does things to die early.


  • FAMILY: I used to struggle with choosing family over career. I wanted to be close to my grandfather, but there's not much of a film industry in Seattle. After many years of living in LA, putting my career first, I've chosen family. It's still true that there isn't much film editing work in Seattle, but I don't wait on the sidelines for an opportunity to "pop up". I chose to put in the hard work and create 2 additional careers in camera operating and documentary photography. I created a situation where I can have the best of both worlds. A pro knows what is important to them and takes action, an amateur knows what is important but isn't willing to put in work.


  • PAULINA: The relationships you have with loved ones are the most important relationships you'll ever have. A pro prioritizes to make these relationships work. Paulina and I are able to come face-to-face with uncomfortable issues because a pro trusts their partner. There are no secrets, no lies, no bottling up of emotions - these are the trademarks of fear and distrust. A pro is an adult, an amateur is immature.
When we turn pro, everything becomes simple.
— Steven Pressfield

When I turned pro, my life became simple. So far, it's been the ideal life for me: free from drama, free from stress, free from self-sabotage.

Achieving a simple life is actually deceptively hard, but I firmly believe you get what you put in and I enjoy putting in hard work.