Every Life Hack Is Useless Without This

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A good friend of mine recently shared a blog post from Farnham Street titled, “The Difference Between Amateurs and Professionals”. I would highly recommend reading it. It gives a myriad of examples of the differences between the two types of people. After that, read more. The whole website is gold.

As I was reading, I was surprised with how much of the material I related to. One example is, “Amateurs see feedback and coaching as someone criticizing them as a person. Professionals know they have weak spots and seek out thoughtful criticism.” As musicians, we are wired this way. We refine our skills with the help of private teachers who seek to build us up by breaking down the weaknesses in our playing. It’s a necessary step toward mastery.

Another difference is, “Amateurs have a goal. Professionals have a process.” This example can be harder to identify with. If I have a goal of winning an orchestral audition, but no process laid out to achieve that goal, it’s unlikely I will achieve that goal. If I want to deadlift 600 pounds in 1 year, but no program(process) to slowly inch me toward that goal, there’s no chance of success for me. Nobody is THAT lucky.

This brings me to the point of this post: information is great, but it is only valuable if you do something with it. Without action, even the best information is useless. Knowing failure is a necessary part of success is a very different thing than actually embracing failure and learning from it. Knowing you’ll run into adversity in your journey and actually pushing through it to reach success are two very different things.

Taking action or not boils down to willingness to change. To think the unfamiliar. To humble yourself enough to say, “I don’t know everything, where can I grow?” Taking your first step might take the willingness to say, “I am worth it. My personal growth is worth investing in.”

Next time you read a great blog post or book, don’t worry about doing it all. Pick 1-2 things and make a plan to incorporate them into your ideology. Using this post, you might use “Amateurs focus on the short term. Professionals focus on the long term” and “Amateurs think disagreements are threats. Professionals see them as an opportunity to learn”.

Don’t worry about the rest right now. Focus on observing and finding as many opportunities you have to make long term plans and treat disagreements with others as opportunities to learn. Do that for a month. See how it changes you. Then, if you want to dig in more, come back to the post and pick 1-2 more examples and do the same thing.

Simply put, it’s not enough to KNOW how to make positive change in your life, you actually have to DO it. Just don’t worry about doing ALL of it. Doing some of it in the short term will teach you how it will benefit you in the long term.


“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” – Leonardo da Vinci.


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