"Never put the key to your happiness in someone else's pocket"
Look, I get it, sometimes you just don't have the confidence or experience to do things your own way, so it's great to follow somebody else's recipe. However, lately, I've run into too many artists who are so wrapped up in hero worship they've stopped listening to their own hearts. They've become photo "minions" fighting to follow their heroes step by step.
Years ago at Hasselblad, we had a photographer come to the booth at one of the major shows and ask us to give him a list of everything Denis Reggie had for gear. He then went out and bought everything Denis used. He came back the next year furious because none of his images looked like anything Denis would shoot. First, he shot it all at f8/125 and second; he didn't have Denis's heart.
I don't mean this to sound like a rant this morning, but if there's one thing I've learned over the years it's the importance of following your heart - not somebody else's. You have to develop enough confidence to choose your path - nobody can do it for you.
So, the key to success first is to define it. Success means different things to different people, but it's not about material things as much as it's about waking up with a smile every morning! You're the only one who can figure out what puts that smile on your face and in your heart.
Next, listen to what everybody has to say. When it comes to the leaders of the industry, listen to what they have to share. Read their books and watch their videos. Talk with them directly at every convention/conference you can attend. Then, boil it all down and follow your own recipe for success. Learn to trust your heart, which so often is SCREAMING at you, but you've "put your keys in somebody else's pocket".
Steve Jobs said it better than I could ever write:
"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life.
Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking.
Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice.
And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.
They somehow already know what you truly want to become.
Everything else is secondary."