Well, okay, he is. At what he does he’s one of the best. So when he writes that

True professionals don’t fear amateurs

we’re going to shut up, sit down, and read.

He’s right, of course.  The better you are at whatever you do, the more comfortable you are (and the more you enjoy) working with gifted and talented amateurs in the same area. They’re no threat, business-wise, and it’s a lot of fun bringing on someone who is enthusiastic.

But here’s the rub. Sometimes an amateur, no matter how well intentioned, is dangerous. You’d not want an amateur heart surgeon, I’m guessing. And how about the brakes on your car – done by a professional?  Probably.

Training is similar. Amateur trainers aren’t neutral, they’re potentially, positively dangerous. It’s something I’ve ranted about before – both in passing on this very blog (Training checklists) and over on our presentation skills blog (presentation bullshit) as well as in a couple of guest blogs in various places.

The difference about when amateurs are to be encouraged or looked at with a raised eyebrow lies, it seems to me, in when third parties are involved. A talented amateur cook will probably only poison his or her own family, I’d guess. A talented amateur trainer can screw up an awful lot of people’s working lives at a time.

The thing is, being a talented amateur is great whenever things aren’t going wrong – that is, if the person you’re training learns needs things doing in the same way as you… but what happens if it doesn’t work. You’r stuck.

Worse, so is your client.

If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail

If you’re a giften amateur, chances are that you’re damned good with that hammer. Good for you – and I’ll willingly, happily help you all I can. But if it needs a screwdriver and all you’ve got is a hammer I can’t let you anywhere near my clients.

Training people is easy. Training people well is hard.

One response

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