How many times have you been told to “think out of the box,” “try something new,” or “go against the grain” at the exact moment that your “box” hermetically sealed itself and you couldn’t “think” out of it even if you had an iron will and a mental machete?!?
It’s tough. Believe me, I know.
Recently, I’ve found that focusing on what’s most important to me in achieving my photographic ambitions has become more and more challenging. I guess that’s why I haven’t posted to the blog in over a month (sorry about that). The challenges are numerous and unrelenting, and one of the bigger hurdles I’ve been facing has been developing the business side of things. I’m a professional photographer who happens to have an aerospace engineering degree (I’d show you my diploma, but I took it down to use the frame for my photographs). Translation? Marketing and business savviness are not in my vocab. If I were ever chosen to be a contestant on “The Apprentice,” I’d last two seconds before Trump shouts the deal-breaking “You’re Fired!”
I can’t even begin to tell you how many hours I’ve spent researching the fine details of what makes certain businesses, particularly those of a visually creative nature, successful. So many things were foreign to me, especially the nuances of strategic marketing and branding. It was a real workout to put all the pieces together and finally start formulating my master plan. But, just when I think “EUREKA!” on a strategy that’s sure to propel my photography business to new heights, I consult a respected friend – who happens to be a professional in these sorts of things – and he shoots down over half of my great ideas! Sure, he’s just trying to help, and he probably knows what he’s talking about (or at least he claims to), but with every piece of “advice” he gave me, I got closer and closer to clawing my desk to shreds in a way that would make my cats proud!
Realizing I wasn’t going to make anything better by giving in to my lizard brain instincts, I stepped back and took a breath. Maybe, just maybe, my friend doesn’t actually want to destroy my dreams. And maybe, just maybe, getting a sugar-free opinion of your ideas can give you the fresh perspective you’ve been craving. True…my friend didn’t do much for my ego, but what he did do was to help me to re-focus and see my goals through a different lens.
I guess the moral of the story is: Dedicate Yourself. And Adjust Accordingly. Yes, make a plan, but use the plan as a guideline, not a mantra. Keep everything flexible and adapt to whatever is going on around you. If your plans are too rigid, they’re more apt to fall apart and your morale will suffer as a result.
I’m sure all of this is common sense, but it’s always nice to have a little reminder from time to time.
If you’ve been through a similar “get-me-out-of-this-box” experience with your own professional career, let’s hear it! Feel free to email me or post a comment on the blog.
Keywords: Ambition, Branding, Marketing, Niche, Advice, Against the Grain