Yes, YOU. The one behind the computer screen. The one with the doubts and fears and a whole chorus of voices in your head telling you you're not good enough. That you'll never be good enough. The same voices who like to point out the distance you have yet to cover and just how far you still have to go. In kilometers. Because it sounds like more.
To the world-wearied dreamer behind the computer screen, the one with the tired-eyes and the questions that are still unanswered. I'm talking to YOU.
For YOU have already come farther than you could ever know. The YOU of today is already a million times better than the you who just got started. YOU have learned so much and given more than you knew you had in you. YOU have been a friend and a light in this world. And whether you believe it or not, YOU have already helped others along the way. And right now at this very moment, there is someone looking at where YOU are and wondering if they'll ever make it there too.
Yes YOU, I'm talking to YOU. Right where YOU are right now.
YOU are far more beautiful than you could ever imagine. YOU have dreams in your heart and breath in your lungs and a fire that won't easily be put out. Not like a spark or a flash in the pan, that burns brightly for just but a moment and then is gone forever as if it never happened. No, not like that. But like an ember. Like a smolder. Like a slow-burning coal that just burns brighter the longer it goes. YOU are on fire friend. And it's the kind of fire that warms everyone around you as you go.
So listen up YOU. Because I'm only going to say this as many times as you need to hear it.
There is greatness in YOU. This old world is aching for the light that only YOU can shine. YOU are a lamp and a lantern at the feet of those lucky enough to cross your path. And YOU are leading the way.
YOU will get there. YOU will change things. YOU will see that everything YOU are right now was always more than enough.
YOU have come farther than you know friend.
And I for one, can't wait to see where YOU go next.
When we were at the P31 Conference in October, we got to hear the amazing Bob Goff speak. And one of the many things that he said that still sticks with me every day is that every Thursday...he quits something.
As small business owners, there are SO many things that we tend to do just because we think we're "supposed" to. Or because that person in our area with the really successful business does it that way. Or because we've been doing it that way for months (or years) already. Even if we know it's not really working for US and the kind of business & life WE want to have.
We do things out of habit. We do things out of obligation. We do things because quite frankly sometimes we don't know what else it is we should be doing.
We spend hours and eventually days and weeks of our lives doing the things that, if we stepped back and really looked at them for a second, don't REALLY move us or our business forward. Some of you might be blogging even though you hate writing, and your blog is now a series of what we call the "apology posts": Ahhh I'm so sorry it's been three weeks since my last post! And the one before that says the same thing. :) But you keep doing it because you think you're supposed to, even though those apology posts might be doing you way more harm than good (potential clients want to see that you're able to follow through on things).
Some of you might still be shooting family shoots when you really just want to specialize in weddings. But you keep doing it because they keep booking you, even though you dread it every time you have to walk out the door.
Some of you are stuck in mountains of editing. Some of you are doing too many friends & family shoots for free. Some of your are bogged down in comparison.
For us, we were getting really tired of running our days around other people's false emergencies (hey, I need this but I need it by 5pm. And oh by the way it's 4:55pm right now). And we just had to say, enough. We can't live our lives constantly running around like crazy just to say "Yes" to other people. Put simply: other people's lack of preparation can't be our emergency. So we had to quit that. We had to learn to say "No." And in doing so, we had to be willing to possibly miss out on some really good opportunities along the way.
But in saying no, it frees up our lives and our sanity for when the really GREAT things come along. And that's worth fighting for.
So go on. It's Thursday....quit something.
So tell me, what is ONE thing you are going to quit today? And what GREAT thing will that free you up to work on more?
You're familiar with this villain, right? It goes a little something like this. You wake up, the sky is blue, the birds are chirping, you stretch and greet the day, all is right with the world, and then.....you go on FACEBOOK.
Or Instagram. Or Twitter. Or somebody's BLOG.
And just like that, it's game over. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. The dark, downward spiral has begun and it refuses to be stopped until you hit rock bottom.
You'll never get there. It's happening for everybody else but you. And you actually might even be getting WORSE instead of better.
And for every good thing that happens to somebody else out there, you feel like it has been taken directly from you.
The Comparison Monster will lie and tell you things like "there is already somebody who does it & does it better....so you may as well not bother." Or "if it isn't happening as easy for you as it has for them, then it probably means it's never going to happen. Give up now." Or, my personal favorite, "everything they have, they've had handed to them."
It's a really icky feeling when The Comparison Monster comes to stay. You're jealous, and angry at yourself for feeling jealous. You feel like a failure, and you're angry at yourself for failing.
We've all been there. We've all felt that. So here are a few things we should remind ourselves of, the next time the Comparison Monster comes a 'knockin.
*The world doesn't have to be zero sum. There is not a finite number of good things out there. And one person's good thing does not have to equate to that good thing being taken from you. Instead, learn from them. Let them teach you how to get that good thing too.
*Right now at this very moment, there is someone looking at you (yes YOU!) and comparing themselves to all that you have. If you think that's silly, so does the person that you're comparing yourself to.
*The Comparison Monster will have you look around and see that this person has A, and this person has B, and that person has C. And then it will tell you that you have to be ALL three if you want to be successful. The truth is, you don't have to be any of them to be successful...only if they fit with what your own definition of success is. Do that and only that. Let the rest fall by the wayside.
*They DID work that hard. It DIDN'T come that easy. And they started out at zero just like you.
*For every pretty, perfect Instagram picture...there is a pile of laundry, a stack of dirty dishes, and a pair of sweat pants just outside of the frame.
*Everything- from booking clients, to gaining Facebook likes, to industry opportunities- EVERYTHING gets easier over time. If it isn't getting any easier yet...just give it more time.
*That person you're comparing yourself to has someone else that they're comparing themselves to. And it goes on and on up the list until you get to Beyonce. (Nah just kidding! Beyonce is comparing herself to someone too).
*And here's the most important one. Ready? Here it is: None of those things that you're wishing for that you see somebody else getting....NONE of them will come even one step closer to happening from the energy you spend on comparing. It is the anti-energy. It is the opposite of moving forward. It is the most-counterproductive thing you can be doing if you're actually trying to get somewhere. So just.....let it go. Take that deep breath with me. Shake that weight off your shoulders.
There is this phrase that has come up in nearly every mentoring session, workshop or What's Next Getaway we've ever done. And it's one of the most suffocating ones out there.
I'm not there yet.
Sometimes it's given as an excuse: "Well that's great for you guys, but I'm just not there yet."
Sometimes it's given as a reason: "Well I really do want to re-do my branding to go after a more luxury feel, but I just don't think I'm there yet."
Sometimes it's given as the precursor & pre-apology for even daring to utter a dream: "Well I know I'm definitely not there yet.....but someday (i.e. a long, long, LONG time from now....definitely definitely not now, I KNOW I'm not good enough now) but someday I would love to ...."
I honestly can't remember the last time we sat down with somebody and they HAVEN'T used that phrase with us. That they haven't told me right off the bat and without qualification how they're just not there yet any maybe never will be. In fact, right now as you're reading this, you may very well be adding up all the times you've said this doubting phrase to yourself....just in the last week.
I'm not there yet.
But here's the thing about a phrase like that, the thing you have to understand & remember: The "there" in "not there yet" is not a REAL destination. And if you put off doing anything until you get "there", you will spend your whole life just waiting to arrive.
Now please, please don't get me wrong. I'm not talking about being careless or being reckless here. I'm not talking about advising people that they should just leap into going full time without a dollar in the bank or that they should just start charging a ton of money if they haven't put the work into being good, really good at their craft. There are the good kinds of "not there yet" too.
No, I'm talking about sitting frozen in Fear, day in and day out never once moving an inch forward toward the dream, because you are waiting on a permission that never comes.
Listen to me now friends. Life just doesn't work that way. No one is ever going to call you up, write you a letter, or send you an email saying, "Hey you. Yes YOU! Guess what....you're good enough. You're talented enough. You've made it. You've arrived. And NOW, now you get to do that BIG thing you've been meaning to do." You have to be that permission for yourself.
There is no set number of practice shots, no milestone number of shoots, no benchmark number of shutter actuations. There is no pre-determined date in the calendar, no number of years in business, no golden anniversary from the date when you first picked up your grandpa's camera....when the switch will suddenly flip, and now you will be able to do that thing you most dream of doing. Your competition is never going to tell you to do it, and you won't believe it if it comes from your friends. You have to be that permission for yourself.
I was in a book store the other day and I saw a card that put it perfectly. It said, "Do you know what all great professional athletes, writers and actors have in common? None of them started out that way."
That "there" that you're trying to get to, that place where all the people you look up to in your industry seem to already be? None of them started out that way. They all had to make that choice for themselves that it was their time. They all had to be that permission for themselves.
So go on. Change the branding, raise the prices, send that email, be willing to say no, hold out for the clients & jobs you really want. Do the thing you think you cannot do.
Because that right there, THAT is how you get to "there."
This is the time of year when our thoughts turn to big dreams for the year ahead and everything we might be & do with the clean slate of a blank calendar. And then that old familiar voice of Fear comes creeping in, asking the inevitable question, "Yea, but what if you FAIL?" Well, you want to know the surest way to guarantee that Fear will be right & you WILL fail? Here's how:
*Do nothing. Stay exactly where you are. Don't take any chances. Don't step out of line. Don't do anything that gets any attention.
*Just keep looking around at what everyone else is doing & do only that.
*When you go to try anything, think only about what the haters, the critics, the bitter betties, and that one girl at your photography meet up who doesn't like you will have to say about it behind your back. Completely forget about all the other people who would step up to support you.
*Set your idea of success by following with lemming-like precision the checklist of someone else's dreams. Forget entirely about what success looks like to you. Follow only in their footsteps.
*Completely mistake & replace busy for happy, successful, glamorous and productive.
*Copy that great idea someone else had rather than doing the work to come up with your own.
*Forget completely about your craft and working, studying, sweating, putting the time in to get better at it. Spend all of your time instead focusing on your brand, your re-brand, your re-re-brand.
*Use all of your energy trying to impress people with your image rather than trying to make an impact *Forget anything that has to do with building your content or your character. Focus instead on becoming a celebrity!!!
*Spend more time telling people how shiny & perfect your life is rather than listening to the brokenness in their life that you might help heal.
*In general, be totally selfish. Definitely don't do anything for anyone else. Hey, it's all about you, baby!
*Define how you feel about yourself each and every day by the number of Facebook followers, Instagram likes, and replies on Twitter you have gained or lost since yesterday. For this is the one true definition of progress.
*Definitely keep doing something that you KNOW isn't working, just because you've already been doing it that way for a couple of years.
*Believe with all of your heart that this is how it is, so this is how it always will be.
*Compare yourself, your bookings, your prices, the kind of weddings you're getting, your house, your clothes and your brand to anyone and everyone you can find. Then definitely make sure you're following them on social media.
*Put in countless hours every day wondering why the competition down the street has booked more jobs than you when you're clearly better.
*Become enemies with said competition. Talk bad about them to anyone who will listen.
*Be completely & utterly unhappy when anything good happens to anyone else. Ever. Know without a doubt that them getting something, takes it directly away from you.
*Tell yourself that it's "good enough" or "the client will never know" when it comes to your craft. Because real artists should never worry about a lifelong pursuit of getting better at what they do. Ain't nobody got time for that!
*Never be vulnerable. Ever. Everything is perfect. Your life is perfect. Your children never cry. You never fight with your husband. And you never have a hair out of place. Kelly Ripa wishes she had it as together as you do.
*And above all else, don't try. Don't care. Don't put your heart into it because then it can never get broken. Don't go out on a limb because then you'll never fall. No one and nothing can hurt you, if you stay. right. where. you. are. Forever.
You want to have a real clean slate in 2014? How about we all agree to stop failing like THIS? Who's on board?