Put simply, professionals play the game, and fans watch the game. 

I was recently at a mastermind group, The Best, run by the former professional football player and world-class speaker, Bo Eason. The purpose of The Best was to teach those in the mastermind how to become No. 1 in the world at what they do. If you're not trying to be the best in the world, then get out of that room. 

Bo spent a lot of time talking about how he doesn't let his son watch football on TV, because those TV programs are designed not for players, but for consumers of football.

The players don't actually watch the sport. Sure, they study film. But they aren't watching the games on ESPN. They aren't caught up in all of the drama. That's all entertainment designed for fans. 

So the question is, are you a fan or are you a pro?

This is an important question for anyone to consider. For example, I myself as a writer can quickly become a consumer of other people's writing, rather than a professional in my own right. 

Now, when people ask me my profession, I tell them I'm a professional writer. I have big book contracts and write books. 

But the question is: How much do I really act like a pro?

A true professional doesn't watch, they play. They are completely committed to their craft and becoming the best in the world at what they do.

The best filmmakers spend far less time watching movies than the consumers those movies are made for. They don't have time to sit around and watch movies. They are too busy creating them. 

Be honest with yourself: Are you a fan?

Bo talked about how fans act when they are around other people. For instance, if you're a fan, then you ask people to take selfies with them, like professional athletes or whoever you admire or aspire to be like. 

Pros don't do this. 

Bo didn't let his son ask for a selfie when practicing football with Matt Ryan, the star quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons. You need to be his peer, not his fanboy, Bo told his son Axel. 

I was taught that same lesson from Ryan Holiday, one of my favorite writers, who eventually became a peer. Just be and play on the same level as those you aspire to be like. They are human beings too. But they are competitors. And if you compete with and against them, then they will compete. But if you ask them for a selfie or an autograph, then you aren't one of them. 

Declare what you will become.

At the event, Bo had each of us make declarations of what we intended to do with our lives. A declaration is the most committed decision you can possibly make. And when you truly make a decision, you cut off all other possible options. True decisions are always a point of no return. They are final. Finished. You are entirely committed.

Hence, Bo spent quite a bit of time talking about his love for things that last forever. He talked about his marriage with his beautiful wife, Dawn.

True competitors remove as much noise and distraction from their life as possible. Bo hasn't had to think about other women since he got married. He chose one and now can go big on that one decision. In the book, The Paradox of Choice, Dr. Barry Schwartz says human beings make bad choices when they keep too many options available. 

The best decision makers in the world are fine with opportunity cost. They happily accept that when they go big on one thing, they are not going to be able to go big on others. 

Hence the brilliance of the quote from BaseCamp founder, Jason Fried, who said, "I'm pretty oblivious to a lot of things intentionally. I don't want to be influenced that much." 

When you make a decision or declaration, you remove all other possible options, and then you go huge on that thing. 

This is the opposite of willpower. The scientific term for willpower is "decision fatigue," and it happens when you haven't fully decided and committed to what you want to do.

When you've truly made a decision, you eliminate willpower as an option. The choice is made. You no longer have to think about it. You just have to execute. You do this by creating conditions that make your success inevitable. 


Bo Eason's The Best was likely the most powerful two-day event I've been to. I got way more inspiration than I expected, and I knew going in Bo was a world-class speaker and trainer. 

The event shifted my paradigm. I made a declaration far beyond anything I felt comfortable with. But I know I'll grow into that declaration, because I'm committed to becoming a professional, not an amateur. Not a fan.

If you commit big, you need to eliminate the behaviors and mindsets of fans and amateurs. You need to commit to your craft. Often, it will feel horrible and difficult. It's not roses and rainbows. 

Being a professional isn't for everyone.

Being the best isn't for everyone.

But is it for you?

Will you be THE BEST?

Published on: Nov 2, 2018
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.