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A good article from the Farnam Street blog showed up in my blog reader this morning about The Difference Between Amateurs and Professionals. The bullet points in it are all right on the mark but a big one that sticks out for me right now is…

This goes towards my own admonition that contractors need systems or they are just running a practice and not a professional level company.

Another one of my own I would add is…

  • Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency by Tom DeMarcoProfessionals have some “slack” or “breathing room” in their operations. An amateur is a slave to his or her company’s operations.

By “slack“, I don’t mean the professional and technical project management definition (Slack | The Building & Remodeling Wiki) although there is some similarity. I am instead referring to a definition of slack as set for in the book Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency by Tom DeMarco. You can’t have leadership management or employees running at 100% efficiency all the time. They need to have slack in their schedules to think and innovate rather than just react.

“In order to enable change, companies have to learn that keeping managers busy is a blunder. If you have busy managers working under you, they are an indictment of your vision and your capacity to transform that vision into reality. Cut them some slack.”


“When companies can’t invent, it’s usually because their people are too damn busy.”

I can’t tell you how many people (business owners) I have talked to in the last few months are too busy to even think and talk about the steps they need to take improve their business practices and systems to give them the time to think and discuss those things.

You can’t really have this kind of “slack” if your business doesn’t have systems in place.

(Interestingly shortly after writing this article I googled Tom Demarco + Slack and ran across an article by Tom DeMarco entitled:  What is a System on The Atlantic Systems Guild website)

The Difference Between Amateurs and Professionals

Why is it that some people seem to be hugely successful and do so much, while the vast majority of us struggle to tread water? The answer is complicated and likely multifaceted. One aspect is mindset-specifically, the difference between amateurs and professionals. Most of us are just amateurs. What’s the difference?

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J. Jerrald Hayes
Primus Inter Pares at Paradigm Projects, Ltd.
I am an architectural woodworker and general contractor turned IT, Business and Project Management consultant, software developer wannabe senior division triathlete and ski racer, Yankee fan and founder of, 360 Difference, and now too.
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