Today's post is for all of you who are so wrapped up in things that haven't worked that you've forgotten to recognize all the things you're doing really well. In your own way, you've pretty much given up and might even be thinking about going back to your "day job". There's so much talent out there, but too many of you want to rush success and have this vision that it should always be smooth sailing.
"I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games.
Twenty-six times, I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed.
I've failed over and over an over again in my life.
And that is why I succeed."
Every now and then I talk to a photographer who's on the verge of a panic attack over business and the way things just haven't come together. It doesn't seem to matter whether they're new or seasoned veterans. All of them consider themselves professional photographers, but are frustrated over the challenges of running a business.
Every business venture has its ups and downs. The challenge is not becoming so obsessed with the cloudy days that you miss the ones when the sun comes out.
Read that quote again from Michael Jordan...there's really no such thing as failure. Or, better put, failure is just something that doesn't work. I know this is simplistic, but Sheila has taught me that setbacks are just speed bumps. It's important for you to NEVER let a slight back step trump your passion for the craft or for that matter, anything.
Right about now there's always one of you thinking, "That's easy for him to say." There's this silly perception out there that I've never had a failure...well, I've had failures and days when I thought I was one.
Early on in my career at Polaroid I was caught in two lay-offs. On one I had to give up what I thought was my corporate dream job in Personnel (HR today) and bump back into the hourly ranks. It was like starting over. Then, I left Hasselblad for PhotoAlley.com. It was going to be my shortcut to owning my own island, but went bankrupt when the owners couldn't get us in the black. I found myself standing in the unemployment line. I've got all kinds of stories over the years, both personal and business related, about things that didn't go as planned.
And I'm not alone. There isn't a single photographer on the speaking circuit today who hasn't felt the pain of defeat. Listen to the podcast with Sandy Puc on Sprouting Photographer. She couldn't have been more candid about her divorce and with it, the decline of her business. At the same time, she talked about getting remarried just a couple months ago, redefining the meaning of success, rebuilding her business and the importance of staying focused.
Here's my point...for many of you not getting the shot is interpreted as a failure. Michele Celentano's comment from a program for new photographers years ago still stands out in my mind:
"Twenty years ago I was sitting right where you are, wondering how long it would be until my work didn't suck!"
So, stop thinking you've failed, just because things aren't happening as fast as you hoped. Stop worrying about how much you still don't know. Stop thinking that everybody else is growing and you're not. Last but not least, stop using the word failure.
There is no such thing as a failure unless you fall down and don't bother to get up. Set your goals high, cherish your friendships and remember your network is your support group. Stay focused on building your skill set, so you're ready for any project/assignment that comes along.
"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work!"
Please note: If you clicked on the Sandy Puc link and got the Doug Box podcast, my apologies. I grabbed the wrong link. Just hit refresh and you'll find Sandy's...although Doug's is terrific too and has some great marketing content.
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.