Amateurs and Professionals
One thought from author Edwin Friedman that has stayed with me is about the difference between a professional and a hack.
He wrote that leadership competence is not about knowledge or expertise; a professional and a hack may know the same things.
The difference, he argued, is that their experience does not transform the hack.
Shane Parrish, in the “The Difference Between Amateurs and Professionals.” identified the characteristics that distinguish one from another.
- Amateurs stop when they achieve something. Professionals understand that the initial achievement is just the beginning.
- Amateurs have a goal. Professionals have a process.
- Amateurs think they are good at everything. Professionals understand the scope and extent of their competence.
- Amateurs see feedback and coaching as someone criticizing them as a person. Professionals know they have weak spots and welcome thoughtful criticism.
- Amateurs value isolated performance. Professionals value consistency in performance.
- Amateurs give up at the first sign of trouble and assume they’re failures. Professionals are lifelong learners and see failure as part of the path to growth and mastery.
- Amateurs don’t have any idea what improves the odds of achieving good outcomes. Professionals do.
- Amateurs show up to practice to have fun. Professionals realize that what happens in practice happens in real life.
- Amateurs focus on identifying their weaknesses and improving them. Professionals focus on their strengths and on finding people who are strong where they are weak.
- Amateurs react. Professionals prepare.
- Amateurs think knowledge is power. Professionals pass on wisdom and advice.
- Amateurs focus on being right. Professionals focus on getting the best outcome.
- Amateurs think good outcomes are the result of their brilliance. Professionals understand when good outcomes are the result of intentional work, and sometimes, luck.
- Amateurs focus on the short term. Professionals focus on the long term
- Amateurs tend to tear other people down due to their insecurities. Professionals focus on making everyone better.
- Amateurs make decisions in committees so there is no one person responsible if things go wrong. Professionals make decisions as individuals and accept responsibility.
- Amateurs blame others. Professionals accept responsibility.
- Amateurs show up inconsistently. Professionals show up every day.
- Amateurs go faster. Professionals go further.
- Amateurs go with the first idea that comes into their head. Professionals realize the first idea is rarely the best idea.
- Amateurs think in absolutes. Professionals think in probabilities.
- Amateurs think the probability of them having the best idea is high. Professionals know the probability of that is low.
- Amateurs think reality is what they want to see. Professionals know reality is what’s true.
- Amateurs think disagreements are threats. Professionals see them as an opportunity to learn.
- Amateurs believe that the world should work the way they want it to. Professionals realize that they have to work with the world as they find it.
Israel Galindo is Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning at the Columbia Theological Seminary. He directs the Pastoral Excellence Program at Columbia seminary. He is the author of the bestseller, The Hidden Lives of Congregations (Alban), Perspectives on Congregational Leadership (Educational Consultants), and A Family Genogram Workbook (Educational Consultants), with Elaine Boomer & Don Reagan, and Leadership in Ministry: Bowen Theory in the Congregational Context.
His books on education include Mastering the Art of Instruction,The Craft of Christian Teaching (Judson), How to be the Best Christian Study Group Leader (Judson), and Planning for Christian Education Formation (Chalice Press).