By the way wasn't Einstein an amateur physicist?
Newton would better be qualifies as a professional academic with interests in natural philosophy and mathematics.
You are free to make your own opinion based on the facts I bring.
People who do things as a hobby don’t just stop once they reach some goal, at least not in my experience. In stead they set new goals, and I really don’t think people give up easily either. I mean, most people who do an Ironman are technically amateurs who self-train and participate because they think it’s fun.
Likewise, when we operate open source projects we evaluate your contributions not your personal status. If your code is solid, no one is going to care if you’re a 89 year old retired truck driver who codes for fun.
And the second definition of professional “a personal who engages in an activity with great competence”
These are implied by the question that begins the article:
“Why is it that some people seem to be hugely successful and do so much, while the vast majority of us struggle to tread water?”
The author could have chosen better words, but I feel you’re missing most of the article by focusing exclusively on them.
But the cash test up this page is the bottom line.
I may do a rhyme here and there, perhaps well.
But until I sell books of poetry, calling me a 'poet' seems a misnomer.
In reality there is only one difference between professional and amateurs: money.
Professionals know how to turn their skill into a regular income. It doesn't mean they are really good at their job, more that they know how to deal with customers, work on a schedule, budget, advertise,...
There may be one skill that professionals have more than amateurs and that's the ability to finish the job. That's because people usually pay for a finished product, and if you don't finish, you don't get paid.
>Amateurs have a goal. Professionals have a process.
I'll tell my boss this the next time we set my goals for the year.
Amateur means something more like "doesn't get paid". Professional means "gets paid."
Consider amateur marathoners. Some indeed "stop when they achieve" their first marathon. Others dedicate years to participating in marathons, and running culture. But they are all amateurs.
Some amateur marathoners "have a goal" - do a marathon. Some "have a process."
Most amateurs runners do not "think they are good at everything".
Many amateur runners have coaches, and join running clubs, and read advice books, all to get feedback and coaching.
Go down the list, and pretty none of it applies to dedicated amateur marathon runners.
Nor does it apply to other fields, like dedicated amateur birdwatching.
Professionalism to me means a few things:
- you earn money with the thing you do
- given a outline of the project you can judge how long it will take
- you also care about communicating your work
- once you agree to do something, you do it unless you can’t
So amateurs are Sith. Sorry for this comment, but I cannot really take this post too seriously (yes, yes, this is probably just an amateur comment and I take the blog too personally).
The difference is probably just that professionals earn their money in the domain in question. That often has a positive influence on experience of course.
Having worked at least a few years in industry it quickly becomes apparent that magic formulas are quite rare.
I was happier with the list after I replaced all instances of "amateurs" with "happy people" and all instances of "professionals" with "INTJ personality types"
(Disclosure: I'll admit to testing as an INTJ personality type, though I find the whole Myers-Briggs thing only slightly more convincing that astrology)
There are two definitions:
1. a person who engages in a pursuit, especially a sport, on an unpaid rather than a professional basis.
2. a person who is incompetent or inept at a particular activity.
My interpretation is that it's only referring to 2 and isn't referring to those who engage in a pursuit without payment. Or more specifically, being an ameteur is a product of those actions.
Instead, understand those terms to mean good workers and bad workers, and there's actually some good advice in here, even though it comes across as trite in this format.
About that level of sophistication too.
Our industry (software dev specifically) is inclined to use put downs in this way. I've often thought the phrase 'code smell' is used as a 'put down', a way of diminishing someone's work in order to make them change what they do (i.e. to be more like some perceived standard). I think the use of that (and other similar derogatory phrases) is unprofessional - which is a tad ironic.
That's it. End of story.
It is perfectly possible e.g. that an amateur artist makes better art than a professional one. Amateurs can be better than professionals especially in fields where the market forces you to do the same cheap stuff over and over again without any need to create something truly beautiful.
That beeing said: probably most of the best software out there has been created in an non-professional environment.
Professionals don't sum up being professional in a few sound bites.
And of course the main difference, missing from the article, is getting paid for what you do vs doing it purely for the love/fun of it.
If you have a market you can drop all or most of the points in the post, and still be "hugely successful and do so much". If you don't you can do all of the above and still "struggle to tread water". And of course you could do all of the above while being an amateur as well (amateur != low quality output).
The post is more "how to be a better person / colleague / more efficient worker" than pro vs amateur.