Why so professional?

Everybody and his brother is professional these days. Or tries to be. There is professional everything: professional art, professional motherhood, professional love, professional faith in God.

Why?

Doesn’t it seem more and more absurd? With every little problem we run to an expert. And the more professional he looks, the more expert he is in our eyes. Just as if being yourself, sincere and true, was unprofessional and thus unworthy of our attention or even respect.

Well, I don’t believe this shit. I think this faith in experts and professionalism is fake. And I think we all feel it in our guts, only we are too scared to quit chasing illusions that make us feel safe and secure.

Two weeks ago I tried to have someone design a logo for me. It was a tricky one, as the name of the website is “Completely Unprofessional”. Get a logo for that!

So I looked for a guy on Fiverr. I tried to find someone who likes to have fun, who’s not afraid of crazy ideas, who likes that human touch. And guess what. I couldn’t find one logo designer who would make a big point of being professional. So, I hired a professional to design a “completely unprofessional” logo. I wrote a long text describing in details how much I don’t like my logo to look professional. He didn’t get it. The outcome was very professional. Very good, very correct. But utterly boring.

Is that what people expect from you? Your boring, but safe, correct professionalism?

Perhaps. I don’t know.

I’m pretty sure though they quality. They want you to keep deadlines, always. To honor agreements, no exceptions. To be honest and communicative. But that’s not what professional means.

The definition goes like this:

Professional — engaged in a specified activity as one’s main paid occupation rather than as an amateur.

Is that all?

No, it has to be more than that. Because why would anybody want to emphasize the simple fact that what he does is his main paid occupation? I mean, who cares? Why would this information make anybody more likely to choose your services?

Here’s the reason: people think that making your occupation the main paid occupation automatically makes you better at what you do.

That is absurd.

If you draw like a drunken monkey today how could you suddenly become Michelangelo when you are paid for it? You would still be a monkey, only a paid monkey. People believe in money. They think it has magical powers. But it doesn’t, it can’t change a dyletant into an expert.

Only work can do that. Work that comes out of passion and love.

And on that passion and love your focus should be. Always.

So if you are not a professional, who are you?

You’re an amateur. The word amateur means literally “lover of”.

A professional works because he is paid. The amateur works because he loves what he is doing. A professional doesn’t work if he’s paid. An amateur doesn’t work if he stops loving it.

The question is who do you want to be? Do you love your work? Or love the things you get for your work?

As for me I am sick of professionals. I’m sick of this attitude of professionalism. I long for amateurs.

And that’s not me being a romantic unrealistic guy. On the contrary, I’m a reality lover and I want results. Preferring amateurs is simple in my interest. Well think about it, who would you rather have at your wedding? A wedding singer who loves singing or a guy who loves your money? Who do you think does his job better?

Yes, I know that John Lenon was completely wrong and love is not all you need. You need knowledge, skills, experience, tools, lots of stuff. Loving movies doesn’t make you a great actor.

Clearly the perfect choice would be an amateur with good experience and decent skills.

But isn’t it a professional?

No, it’s not.

What’s the difference?

The difference is what made Bill Gates so different than Steve Jobs. Bill was a professional. Steve was an amateur. They were both competent. They just had different reasons to do what they did.

And given a choice I’d rather be a person with a little experience who loves his work passionately, than a guy with huge experience who doesn’t care much.

Because experience is easy to get. Passion is not.

So I say: down with professionalism! Long live amateurs!

Be a human not a seller, be completely unprofessional, stay completely unprofessional and be proud of it.

Because there is no shame in doing something just because you care.


Why so professional? was originally published in Completely Unprofessional on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Stay unprofessional!