the story of a life changed | part seven

What you have to know is that I always knew I was destined for an unusual career. My brother and I grew up in a household that celebrated entrepreneurship, and from a super young age I thought it was weird to have one of those regular jobs everyone seemed to be out there searching for.

Some of my favourite family memories include helping my brother (he's 9 years older than me) with his business as a car detailer. I remember sitting on the floor of his bedroom surrounded by neon yellow paper, helping him cut out the ballots that he would hand out at the tradeshow that upcoming weekend. I saw him living his best life with grease under his fingernails and a huge smile on his face. I saw the way he used his personality to win over his clients and turn them into lifers. I respected his pursuit of business courses at night school instead of the framed University degree.

My father lives with regret that he didn't pursue the career of his dreams, and he used that to teach us that we didn't have to live ordinary lives. If you've met both me and my brother in real life, you'll know that this is the common thread: a pursuit of out of the box happiness and a life that is rich in more ways than just our bank accounts.

Even though our parents definitely wanted to attend our post secondary graduations, we know they're proud that Scott and I have self-made careers.

This series is called the story of a life changed because deciding to start my own business was like opening that baby blue door at the end of the Truman Show. It opened up a new world that I didn't even know was waiting for me on the other side. When you take hold of your own fate, your own life, your own happiness, you realize you can't live any other way.

No, it's not always glamourous, and it surely didn't feel like a "big" thing back then. But the secret of progress is much like that of parenting: the days are long but the years are short. The idea that one day you'll feel like you've "made it" is an illusion. I promise you, even the people that you look up to still feel like they don't know all the answers. So when you take that to heart and start realizing that we're all just trying to do the freaking best we can with what we have to work with, things like competition and jealousy and envy fade away, revealing contentment in their place.

I wrote a post many years ago about comparison and it still holds up. I am ruthless with the people I allow to permeate my screens. I bodyguard my calendar and make sure I'm feeling in control of the hours in each day. I have to continually fight for the thing I worked so hard to create: the freedom to live my best life. And if that's what you're fighting for too, I've collected my best nuggets of advice for you:

ONE // Keep your head down and try to avoid obsessing over what other people in your field are doing.

Take this especially to heart if seeing what they're doing makes you feel shitty about what YOU are doing.

TWO // Be a ruthless editor and a fearless creator.

This quote comes from Christoph Neimann's episode of the Abstract docu-series on Netflix, and has since become my mantra. Essentially it means to create freely, out of the confines of perfection and technique. Just create. Do the thing that makes you happy and do as much of it as you can, and then when it comes time to work the business side, do so with intention.

THREE // If you're low on inspiration, hunt it down.

Inspiration is a muscle that you can train. It's situational. It's either tearing you apart inside as it waves over your creative soul with such force that you think you can't take any more, or it's empty and vast like a desert on a hot day. But if you lay down in the desert and expect the rain to find you, you'll be waiting a long time.

My own recipe for finding inspiration looks like this: I change what I'm looking at. I talk to myself like I'm in a soap opera until I figure out what's blocking the inspiration from coming my way. I listen to music really loudly. I write. I create something -- anything. I find something to feel proud of and chase after it until it's mine.

FOUR // Shift your internal dialogue.

If you're telling yourself that you can't write a blog because you're a "bad writer," change that verbiage to "I'm working on being a better writer." And instead of complaining about how blogging will never work for you, take action on it. Set aside 15 minutes each day to read something that has absolutely no relevance to your industry. The more you read, the more the words will be there for you when it comes time to write.

FIVE // There are no secrets.

Give and give and give as much as you can to the people who are willing to learn from you. There's nothing proprietary about what you do that another hustler out there can't go out and learn from someone else. Turn that curious new follower into a forever loyal admirer by sharing your gifts! Karma is real. 

And from a photography perspective, the minute you realize that your rules about photo usage (I'm talking those blurbs that say things like "Please do NOT crop, edit, or screenshot these photos without asking permission. Copyright 2018 blah-blah-blah"), are preventing your clients from sharing your work with their network and creating referrals for you, is the exact second when you should be taking off your fancy watermark and encouraging clients to treat your photos as their own.

I literally cringe everytime I see a blurb intended to protect a photographer's precious copyright. Check your ego at the door and serve your precious clients instead.

SIX // Don't be your own roadblock.

Don't let things like a company name, a logo, or a piece of equipment hold you back from doing something great. Those things can change and evolve as you do, and nothing is set in stone. Letting those things halt your progress moving forward is like not going on a vacation because you don't know what time the flight leaves. Obviously we know that you first pick your destination, THEN you search for flights.

Stop getting in your own way.

SEVEN // Sharing your world will expand it.

It's very scary to say your ambitions out loud. It's daunting to think of telling your spouse that you're maybe considering a side-hustle. And for those who already have businesses they're pursuing, it can be terrifying to share with your (potentially small) audience what's really on your heart.

But when you open yourself up and freely share about your pursuits, the world has a funny way of helping you out. If you just let it. 

EIGHT // Just show up.

This one is so simple, but so effective. Keep showing up. You're going to get better at something if you just keep doing it. Don't be afraid of making a decision that will take you off course, because those mistakes will help guide your next move. Trust your gut. Stand up for what you believe to be right. Feel free to prove everyone wrong. 

If you're dying to ask me what books I read to learn how to use my camera, or ask for tips on reaching out to successful photographers looking to second-shoot, you're missing the point. In those three pillars of entrepreneurship outlined in the first installment of this series, I identify with number 3. I come from the figure-it-out, make-it-happen, Google-it school of business. I don't know any other way. I think that if you want to do something you should just go out and do it. Yes, look both ways before you cross the street, so to speak, but otherwise walk straight out into traffic and use your nerves as armour for the battle you're about to face.

The time it takes for you to ask for advice is the same time it takes for you to start finding the answer yourself. The information is out there. And even still, there's no substitute for real experience. Or failure. Or risk.

So go out there and make waves! It's your life, you may as well make it as badass as possible.

It has been such a delight to craft this story and share it with you. 
The idea of writing out my story has been sitting with me for years and years. 
And that's the most promising thing about ideas: 
once you act on one, another will pop up in its place.

Here's to figuring out my all time favourite question: what's next?

1 comment :

  1. Loved reading your series about starting your business! Thanks for sharing, very inspiring!


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