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Amateurs and Professionals

Amateurs and professionals - what is the difference?

Not too long ago I read a book that focused greatly on how to find and maintain ways to be happy and content in life, and came across something that echoed loudly within me to the point that I saw it in others as well that I decided to share it with you.

Therefore, if this resonates with you as well, please take heed.

Some of us specialize and devote all our energy to a particular activity, aiming to reach almost professional levels of performance in it. We even tend to look down and criticize anyone who is not as skillful and devoted to our specialty.

While those others prefer to dabble in a variety of activities, taking as much enjoyment as possible from each without necessarily becoming an “expert” in any one of them.

There are two words whose meaning reflect our somewhat warped attitudes towards levels of commitment to physical or mental activities. These are the terms amateur and dilettante. Nowadays, these labels are slightly derogatory. An amateur or dilettante is someone not quite up to par, a person no taken very seriously, one whose performance falls short of professional standards. But, originally, “amateur” from the Latin verb amare, “to love,” referred to a person who loved what he or she was doing.

Similarly, a “dilettante,” from the Latin delectare, “to find delight in,” was someone who enjoyed a given activity. The earliest meanings of these words therefore, drew attention to experiences rather than accomplishments. They described the subjective rewards individuals gained from doing things, instead of focusing on how well they were achieving. Nothing illustrates as clearly our changing attitudes toward the value of experience as the fate of these two words.

There was a time when it was admirable to be an amateur poet or dilettante scientist, because it meant that the quality of life could be improved by engaging in such activities. But increasingly, the emphasis has been to value behavior over subjective states—what is admired is success, achievement, the quality of performance rather than the quality of experience. Consequently, it has become embarrassing to be called a dilettante, even though to be a dilettante is to achieve what counts most—the enjoyment one’s actions provide.

It is true that the sort of dilettantish learning encouraged can be undermined even more readily than professional scholarship, if learners lose sight of the goal that motivates them. Laypersons with an ax to grind sometimes turn to pseudo-science to advance their interests and often their efforts are almost indistinguishable from those of intrinsically motivated amateurs.

An interest in the history of ethnic origins, for instance, can become easily perverted into a search for proof of one’s own superiority over members of other groups. The Nazi movement in Germany turned to anthropology, history, anatomy, language, biology, and philosophy, and concocted from them its theory of Aryan racial supremacy. Professional scholars were also caught up in this dubious enterprise, but it was inspired by amateurs, amid the rules by which it was played belonged to its politics, not science.

Soviet biology was set back a generation when the authorities decided to apply the rules of communist ideology to growing corn, instead of following experimental evidences, Lysenko’s ideas about how grains planted in a cold climate would grow more hardy, and produce even hardier progeny, sounded good to the layperson, especially within the context of Leninist dogma.

Unfortunately, the ways of politics and the ways of corn are not always the same. And Lysenko’s efforts culminated in decades of hunger.

The bad connotations the terms amateur and dilettante have earned for themselves over the years are due largely to the blurring of the distinctions between intrinsic and extrinsic goals. An amateur who pretends to know as much as a professional is probably wrong, and up to some mischief.

The point of becoming an amateur scientist is not to compete with professionals on their own turf, but to use symbolic discipline to extend mental skills, and to create order in consciousness. On that level, amateur scholarship can hold its own, and can be even more effective than its professional counterpart. But the moment that amateurs lose sight of this goal, and use knowledge mainly to bolster their egos or to achieve a material advantage, then they become caricatures for the scholar.

Without training in the discipline of skepticism and reciprocal criticism that underlies the scientific method, laypersons who venture into the fields of knowledge with prejudiced goals can become more ruthless, more egregiously unconcerned with truth, than even the most corrupt scholar.

Therefore, dear friends, let’s return to the origin of doing whatever it is we decided to do simply for the love of it, for the enjoyment we derive from it, and not because we’re seeking praise, fame, or anything material—but because we consider ourselves true amateurs or dilettantes.

Thank you very much for your attention and God bless.

Ernesto Cole

Maxims To Live By

Wisdom from Within - by Ernesto Cole - Words and thoughts to live by with motivation and inspirtation for success and making the most of life.

1 You will always tend to see whatever it is you’re looking for. Your thoughts create your reality.

 

2. Deep inside we all want to love and be loved, to care and be cared for, and live happy… That is our essence.

 

3. Many of us spend so long pretending to be whatever it is that we’re pretending to be, that we lose focus of our true selves… The more energy we put into developing that mask, the more convinced we become of it.

4. Well-being is not is not the fruit of something you do, it is the essence of who you are. There’s nothing you need to change, do, be, or have in order to be happy.

5. My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the grounds upon which I stand.


6. Financial security doesn’t come from the amount of money you currently have; It comes from your ability to get more of it whenever you want.


7. Master the art of serving other and you will service your financial future. In this sense, money is just a measure of the difference you’re making in the world.


8. The problem cannot be solved with the same level of thinking that created it.


9. Your thoughts have no power, it is only when you invest your energy and consciousness into them that they begin to become real.


10. Life begets life, energy begets energy, it is by spending oneself that one becomes rich.


11. You don’t get what you deserve in life, you get what you negotiate.


12. Anywhere there’s a positive difference to be made, there’s money to be made. If you can’t (or won’t) make a difference, you’re unlikely to make very much money.


13. There are three essential motivations for anything and everything we do: Desperation (I have to), rationalization (I should), and inspiration (I want to).


14. I have my own version of an optimist: If I can’t make it through one door, I’ll make through another door or I’ll make a door. Something terrific will come no matter how dark the present.


15. The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.


16. Sometimes we stare so long at a door that is closing, that we see too late the one that is open.


17. Whatever has or hasn’t happened to you is in the past. The past does not equal the future. What matters most right now is your present-moment energy. You can direct your focus and language to create an amazing life.


18. Courage isn’t the absence of fear, but the willingness to proceed in the face of it.


19. There is no disguise which can hide love for where it exists, or simulate where it does not.


20. Coward, one who in a perilous emergency thinks with his legs.


21. Fools are without numbers.

22. To profit from good advice requires as much wisdom as to give it.


23. Measure not men by Sundays, without regarding what they did all week before.


24. When we ask for advice, we are usually looking for an accomplice.


25. A good word is an easy obligation. but not to speak ill, requires silence, which costs us nothing.


26. Try to leave the earth a better place than when you arrived.


27. Question: Do you know what the death rate around here is? Answer: One per person.


28. There is never enough “I love you”


29. ’Tis better than a man’s words, that another man’s words should praise him.


30. A warning given by an experienced person to someone willing to listen is more valuable that jewelry made of the finest gold.


31. While it is wise to learn from experience, it is wiser to learn from the experiences of others.


32. There’s not enough time in this life to learn by trial and error. Therefore, we must learn from the life lessons and experiences of one another.


33. If you have a bowl of murky water and want to make it clear, what would you do?

Ernesto Cole

The Sculptor’s Attitude

What kind of day are you going to have? How you think dictates your day - read how to have a better attitude - by Ernesto Cole.

I woke up early today excited over all I get to do before the clock strikes midnight.

I have responsibilities to fulfill today that are important.

My job is to choose what kind of day I’m going to have.

Today I can complain because the weather is rainy… or I can be thankful the grass is getting watered for free.

Today I can feel sad that I don’t have more money… or I can be glad that my finances encourage me to plan my purchases wisely and guide me away from waste.

Today I can grumble about my health… or I can rejoice that I am alive.

Today I can lament over all that my parents didn’t give me when I was growing up… or I can feel grateful that they allowed me to be born.

Today I can cry because the roses have thorns… or I can celebrate that thorns have roses.

Today I can mourn my lack of friends… or I can excitedly embark upon a guest to discover new relationships.

Today I can whine because I have to go to work… or I can shout for joy because I have a job to do.

Today I can complain because I have to go to school.. or eagerly open my mind and fill it with rich new tidbits of knowledge.

Today I can murmur dejectedly because I have housework to do… or I can feel honored because the Lord has provided me shelter for my mind, body, and soul.

Today stretches ahead of me, waiting to be shaped. And here I am—the sculptor who gets to do the shaping. What today will be like is up to me. I get to choose what kind of day I will have!

Have a great day… unless you have other plans.

Ernesto Cole

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