The Mentality of Professional vs Amateur
The title needs work.

Professional is not versus Amateur.  It is simply opposite.

There are lots of ways to define both words.  I tend to let those words evolve through behavior, and how you view your work,  how you hear what is being said to you and what you do with that information.

There was a time in my life where I would have spent TONS of time to try to "get through" to a singer/actor only to be completely ignored, or hear from them something that was absolutely not said nor implied.

The longer I work with singers, and am in the business, the more I realize how this truly divides the professional mentality from the amateur one.

I see more and more that what you take from a conversation really determines where you are in the process of becoming or maintaining your professionalism or leaving you simply in amateur-land.

Some people are hard-wired professional.  They simply have the ability to see a larger arc,  and know what they need and who they need to ask to get the information in order to develop a career, and a more importantly,  a way of preparing to create a career.  They grow,  they are willing to be accessible,  they listen and hear the full extent of a conversation and then are able to hone in how that affects them specifically and what they must do to grow and develop.

The amateur is probably hard-wired too.  The amateur isn't just about not knowing.  Their hearing is suspect;  their ability to translate is limited;  they find ways to hide, to make excuses and to fixate on one or two things to create a narrative that keeps them safe.

Again, there are many ways to define professionalism and amateurism.  I am speaking about mindset and what could be hard-wired,  versus what could be potential untapped but has the ability to grow and become.

If potential isn't realized,  it's amateur.  It's okay to be amateur as one is developing potential.  It's okay to be amateur even if you don't develop potential.  It is finding one's level that is crucial in all of this.   Amateurs can think they are ready for the deep water,  but the only ones they are kidding are themselves.  Professionals can be in an amateur environment and still find success with others who are like minded and grow.

I see the amateur mindset so often in the development of the vocal instrument.  That instrument is ALWAYS growing and changing.  It needs constant and CONSISTENT attention.  Hard-wired amateurs don't see that need or dismiss it,  and actually say it's good enough.  Professional mind-sets always find a way to keep studying and keep growing.

Professional mindsets ask questions.  They keep the options open and never tie it up with a bow.  They know there is more and they are constantly striving for more craft, more knowledge, more understanding.

Amateur mindsets set up small pockets of fixation.  They only hear what they are able to.  There is not an initiative to truly find more of what is needed, but rather, excuses of what they think is enough.

Professional mindsets often have more questions than answers.

Amateur mindsets find quick answers so they don't need to ask more questions.

Professional mindsets don't make excuses, or hide behind tired humor or excuses or look for sympathy.

Amateur mindsets find the excuses to keep them exactly where they are.  They can be told EXACTLY what is needed, and simply do not hear it,  or choose not to hear it. 

Professional mindsets require challenge and want to know what they need to do.

Amateur mindsets want no conflict and want to be told they are wonderful.

And guess what?  It's okay to be an amateur.  Just don't pretend it's okay to bring the amateur mindset into the professional arena and wonder why nobody is giving you the time of day.

Every singer that walks through my door will be made to feel safe.  They will also be challenged to find their best self.  They will be encouraged, and applauded when they leave better than their previous self.  The professional mindset will realize leaving better than their previous self means there is still work to do.  The amateur mindset will think they are "ready". 

The professional mindset will listen and HEAR.  The amateur mindset will only hear and translate what they are able to, and may even misunderstand.

These are the hard-wired mindsets.

If you really really want to move from amateur to professional in your mind-set you really really REALLY have to work to hear what you need,  by the people who know - and not interrupt.  There are no "yeah, but..."  in a professional mindset.  None.

Learn to ask the right questions, and if you don't know the questions to ask,  ask THAT question.  If you take the time ask,  expect an answer,  and then it is up to YOU,  to discover what the answer reveals for you.  Often, it's not comfortable.  There is nothing comfortable with self-examination.  We learn how to accept the reality and work with it,  or dodge it and remain in that amateur mindset.

Better is simply,  better.

Progress is simply,  progress.

Potential is simply,  potential.

Realizing,  developing and claiming gives us the opportunity to find the changes, makes the changes and live the changes.

Your mindset is up to you.  Claim it.

Susan Eichhorn Young covers all things voice—strong and sophisticated singing and speaking. 

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