The Only Quote That Ever Changed My Life

I’m not a fan of quotes. I find most of them hollow. They work like drugs. You get a high after reading a good one. A few minutes later the high fades and you’re back to normal. You need to find new ones to replenish the high.

The Only Quote That Sticks

There’s one quote I read everyday. It may not be the best quote or the deepest one. Nor does it invoke any feel good emotion. Still, it resonates with me. It became a mindset. That mindset gets me through tough professional challenges without sulking or blaming myself for failure.

This quote is from the 1952 movie, Limelight. It was written and directed by Charlie Chaplin and largely autobiographical.


“That´s all any of us are — Amateurs. We don´t live long enough to be anything else.”


Don’t be. It packs a lot of power.

In my bio, I include the phrase Eternal Amateur. Why would anyone claim that? Why did I adopt this as my mindset?

Amateurs are always learning. Professionals protect the status-quo.

Amateurs have no expectation of success. Professionals feel pressure to live up to previous successes.

Amateurs have nothing to fear. Professionals fear the amateur.

Amateurs know a bounty of knowledge awaits. The professional knows enough.

When I first started writing, I believed I was great. I was ignorant of my poor writing. When I look back on my work, I’m embarrassed at how bad I was. Next year, I’ll think the same thing about my skills today.

It’s okay. I’m an amateur. I’m always growing. That’s why I don’t take down my embarrassing work. It’s a reminder of how far I’ve come since those days of delusion.

Adopting the amateur mindset brings you one more benefit.


The amateur enjoys the freedom to fail. The professional is expected to always succeed.

The amateur enjoys the freedom to try new things. The professional feels pressure to protect their turf.

The amateur welcomes new ideas. It’s an opportunity for growth. The professional fears the marginalization of his knowledge and skills.

Amateurs enjoy the freedom of taking creative risks. Professionals stick to tried and true.

What About Business?

Why would someone do business with an amateur? Adopting the amateur mindset does not mean presenting yourself as a buffoon. It’s a mindset. You’re someone who:

Seeks out the truth when you don’t know the answer

Accepts coaching

Try’s new things

Prioritizes learning over protecting an image

Chaplin discovered a truth. We just don’t live long enough to ever become “professionals.”