As a beginner, we are often awed by the spectacle of flourish. We like seeing the martial artist that does acrobatic kicks, the singer who sings with lots of vibratos or vocal runs, etc. And as we start to idolize these flourish, we give our best efforts to learn and master such things. Surely, we think, these extravagant flourishes are what separate the pro and the amateur right? Nope.

Well, the answer to the above question depends on what do you mean by professional.

  • If you define pro as someone who are able to do such flourishes, then the answer is yes.
  • If you define pro as someone who is capable of producing output that is good enough to get them paid in real life, then nope.
  • If you define pro as someone who is capable of doing things they’re good efficiently in real life, then nope.

The key word here is “in real life.”

In real life, people who are recognized as a master of their profession or skill set is not the one who do the complex and extravagant. The legends are the one who sticks with the basics. What separate the pro from the amateur are their basics.

In any real life skills, there will be simple, non-glamorous things that you’d do almost all the time. We’d call these things the basics. If you’re a singer, then singing in pitch with proper breathing and support will be one such basic. If you are a martial artist, then your basics will be stances, simple punches and kicks, dodging and blocking technique, etc. It would probably be best if we pour most of our efforts to master basic things that we do all the time than to master complex things that we do only in rare cases. Plus, we can actually combine basic things that we’ve learn well enough to create complex flourishes, like the Jabbawockeez dance group who dance exquisitely by just doing basic moves.

The basic approach toward mastery is simple. First, practice the basics until you can perform them well enough. Once you’re able to do the basics well enough, then you’ll be able to claim the title of pro (in the sense that people will be willing to pay you, to get you to do the things you’re good at). Second, perfect your basics. You can do this by cutting out unnecessary efforts that you expend while performing the basics, performing the basics faster, etc. Once your basics are exquisite, you’ll be recognized as a master of your trade.

Of course, you must not just focus on the basics and ignore everything else.

  • In some cases, especially in art and other creative endeavors, you’ll need to have a distinctive style that you must develop after you can perform the basics well enough, such as being known as a singer who can sing with power for opera.
  • In some cases, especially in trades with very broad scopes, you’ll need to specialize once you can perform the basics well enough, such as being the martial artist who can perform acrobatic moves for movies.
  • In some cases, especially in trades where the rare cases can be fatal, then you may actually need to learn the flourish that we bash earlier in this post, such as being the fighter pilot who knows how to do successive high speed acrobatics maneuvers to escape being shot down. Flourishes are also likely to be important when you are facing good competitors who can perform the basics well enough or as good as you are.

In short, there are other things aside from the basics that you’ll need to learn to perform as a pro. Stick with the basics but keep an eye for such other things.