They say ‘a change is as good as a rest’.  Last weekend I hopped on a train and went down to Torquay in Devon for a brief but busy visit – I came back feeling refreshed and inspired for a number of reasons.

First of all, we stayed in a lovely hotel where the service and attention to detail was first class – it’s so nice to be looked after once in a while by people who really care about how they earn their living.  Perhaps there should be a hotel starring –system, for how much hoteliers care about their clientele.  (Funnily enough I discovered that a hotel in Torquay was the inspiration for John Cleese and Connie Booth to create Fawlty Towers – certainly not the one we were staying in!).

So, to continue, food was great, weather was superb and it was good to be away from the routine of home and be by the seaside, even just for 36 hours.

So why Torquay, you may be asking?  I have to admit that’s it’s never been on my list of places to see before I die!   The reason I went was to see a friend of mine, Gary, performing in an amateur production of Beauty and the Beast.  Now I’ve been to lots of amateur productions over the years and this has to be among the best I’ve ever been to!

So what was so good about it and why did I find it so inspiring?  It was clear from the first curtain up that every effort had been put into getting it as near perfect as possible.  Scenery, music, singing, costumes, lighting, choreography, the whole lot was ace!  As for the people playing the principle parts (you were brilliant Gary!) their performances could easily have graced a so-called ‘professional’ production.

So that’s my question really – what differentiates between an amateur and a professional production?  OK, the obvious answer is that the professionals get paid and the amateurs don’t, but surely it’s more about attitude.  My music teacher has a great quote about the difference between an amateur and professional musician: ‘an amateur practices until he gets it right – a professional practices until he can’t get it wrong’.

So going by that definition, you can be an amateur (ie not be paid) but have a professional approach to your project.   And, of course, you can get the opposite – be paid as a professional but have an amateurish attitude (Fawlty Towers perhaps?!).

The reason I was so inspired by last Saturday’s cast was their professionalism and how much they evidently cared about their audience and wanted the show to be the  best possible experience for them.   Oh, and the hotel we stayed in was the same – they really cared about their guests….so maybe being professional is about having passion for what you do and wanting to be/give of your best to others.   So, forget about money for a moment and ask yourself, is your attitude to life amateurish or are you a passionate professional – in everything you do?