Amateur v. Pro

Would you consider yourself an Amateur or a Pro?

Over the course of my life, I have been an amateur at so many things, but two in particular stand out to me:

Teaching yoga  

Years ago, I REALLY wanted to be a yoga teacher. I had these great visions of being a well-known, well-liked instructor. Someone who effortlessly taught amazing classes and helped people feel good in their bodies. I fantasized about how wonderful it would be to have a flexible schedule and wear cute yoga clothes all day long.

Well, after getting my 200-hour certification in 2005, I taught a few public classes and pretty quickly came up to my edge: fear, insecurity, and ‘what will they think of me?‘  Soon, I was finding myself avoiding opportunities to teach. I half-heartedly (or less) put in effort to get myself out there. I’d teach here and there, and for a while even had a regular class of my own. But I never really committed. I was never really all in. I was an amateur.

Being an Artist  

I always loved fancying myself as an artist. In my twenties, I painted and sculpted and lived what I considered to be a  gypsy-like lifestyle, moving from place to place whenever I felt like it. Between 1998 and 2004, I moved from Laguna Beach to San Francisco to Humboldt County to Ithaca to New York City to Los Angeles. It was fantastic!!

The only thing about living this “artist’s life” was that, well, I didn’t make my art. Sure, I did it here and there, took some classes in college, and created a few pieces I was proud of. But I never really committed to it. Outside of class, I did it only when I felt like it. It was a hobby, something I did in my spare time. I was an amateur.


So what makes an amateur?

I love Steven Pressfield’s book Turning Pro because he so simply paints the distinction between the Amateur and the Pro.

Here are his definitions of the Amateur:

The Amateur is Terrified

“…but mostly what we fear as amateurs is being excluded from the tribe.”

The Amateur is an Egotist

“He constantly rates himself in relation to others, becoming self-inflated if his fortunes rise, and desperately anxious if his star should fall.”

The Amateur lives by the decisions of others

“…the amateur craves third-party validation.”

The Amateur permits fear to stop him from acting.

“He takes himself and the consequences of his actions so seriously that he paralyzes himself.”

The Amateur is easily distracted.

“The culture of Twitter and Facebook is paradise for the amateur.”

The Amateur seeks instant gratification.

“The amateur, the addict and the obsessive all want what they want now.”

The Amateur is jealous.

“The amateur’s fear eclipses her compassion for others and for herself.”

The Amateur lacks compassion for himself.

“In his heart, the amateur knows he is hiding. He knows he was meant for better things. He has turned away from his higher nature.”

The Amateur seeks permission.

“The amateur sits on a stool, like Lana Turner at Schwab’s, waiting to be discovered.”

The Amateur lives for the future. The Amateur lives in the past.

“The payoff of living in the past or the future is that you never have to do your work in the present.”

The Amateur will be ready for tomorrow.

“The sure sign of an amateur is that he has a million plans and they all start tomorrow.”

The Amateur gives his power away to others.

“Have you ever followed a guru or a mentor? I have. I’ve given my power away to lovers and spouses. I’ve sat by the phone. I’ve waited for permission.”

The Amateur is asleep.

“Fear of self-definitition is what keeps and amateur an amateur and an addict an addict.”


 So how does one Turn Pro?

Pressfield says this:

“Turning Pro is like kicking a drug habit or stopping drinking. It’s a decision, a decision to which we must re-commit every day.”


So, so simple. It’s a decision. Simply a decision. Every. Single. Day.

I am choosing to be a Pro today. To sit down and do the work.

And I will choose again tomorrow.

Photo by Dustin Lee

Photo by Dustin Lee


2 thoughts on “Amateur v. Pro

  1. Gage, Thank you for the insights, honesty and truth you share in your words on daily living, you are fearless! Keep that channel open and flowing!

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