Professional vs Amateur

If I was teaching maths to a professional - somebody who was actually going to use maths to calculate the velocity of a rocket ship, or build a bridge that doesn’t fall down – I’d teach them calculus. Essential for them, but completely useless for the rest of us. WFP 20131204 If I was teaching maths to an amateur I’d teach people to actually understand probability – something that is incredibly useful and most of us don’t really get. I reckon school teaches maths for professionals, when 90% of its market are actually amateurs.

Likewise when we teach Aikido it takes ten years for it to be useful as a martial art. But 199 out of 200 people who start leave before they get there – and I think we could do a much better job teaching those people.

If you’re a student it’s worth working out whether you’re learning as an amateur or a professional. When I learn cooking, diving, photography, Indonesian, massage, etc etc I’m learning as an amateur. When I’m learning about speaking, or writing, or coaching, or marketing, or selling (in short, how to think, sell and deliver) I’m learning as a professional.

It’s a useful distinction to know when I’m looking for a mentor, or a class, or buying a book.

It’s an even more useful distinction if you’re teaching (and if you are a thought leader, you teach for a living). Are your students (clients) professional or amateur? Are they looking for competence or mastery?

Love to hear your thoughts – where are you an amateur and where are you a pro? You can leave them below.