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A Great Way to NOT Be Successful

Intro by Skip Cohen

I love Mary Marantz’s posts when she takes a concept most people never talk about and creates an “ah-ha” moment for all of us. I hope you’ll take the time to let Mary’s thoughts sink in because she hits the challenge so many of you have dead on!

Being a professional photographer is rooted in your passion to be an artist and obviously a success. But the challenge that comes into play too often is when photographers start comparing themselves with other artists and business owners.

There is no one formula for success that would apply to every business owner and photographer. Everyone’s ingredients are unique to their own circumstances and in turn, their skill set in technology and business.

I shared a quote recently on Twitter that says it all:

“The only photographer you should compare yourself to is the one you used to be!”

Stop worrying and comparing your success to other artists. There’s nothing wrong in admiring other photographers, but you have to stay true to your skill set and passion for the craft and there’s only so much you can do! And to quote Shakespeare – “To thine own self be true!”

By Mary Marantz

Recently I was having this conversation with some good friends, and it rang so true for all of us that I thought it was something we probably ALL need to hear.

What I was telling them was this. It’s really easy to look around and see all of the amazing things other people are doing, and then start to assign them an empty box on your own checklist. Like a blank space in your life or a blinking cursor in your own story, it becomes just one more step between where you are and where you think you have to be in order to call yourself successful.

Until it starts to go a little something like this. You see one friend on Instagram do A, let’s say host a workshop. Then you see another person you follow do B, maybe it’s book their 40th wedding for the year or put together an amazing styled shoot that just got them featured. Then you see that photographer or business owner you’ve looked up to for years blog about doing C, maybe it’s speaking at a news conference.

And then our brains do this really tricky slight of hand.

Even though we saw that person do A, that person do B, and that person do C…somewhere in our heads it becomes “well, successful people must do all three A, B & C.”

In other words, like a monster we build up in our own heads, we assemble those three separate mere mortals into some sort of Megatron of business owners that none of us could ever live up to because we’re giving them credit for three things when they have really only done one. And we don’t stop at A, B & C either. We keep adding, heaping on to the list, until we make it all the way to Z and have ourselves convinced that the only way we can be successful is if we tie ourselves in knots trying to juggle all 26 of these things at once.

We tell ourselves that unless we’re globe-trotting Europe, while hosting a workshop, while putting on a styled shoot, while redecorating our Pinterest worthy home, while writing amazing blog posts that go viral, while growing a super huge Instagram following, while spending quality time with family, while hosting life-changing mentoring sessions, while speaking at (or launching) the new conference on the scene, while growing a huge newsletter list, while shooting 40 weddings a year, while bringing on associates while attending that exclusive industry event, while starting a side business while having our editing caught up the day we do our shoots, while looking super stylish…..then we’re not successful.

And it’s exhausting. It’s exhausting just reading that list. But here’s the really scary part…that’s how we’re living our lives. And the truth is, we’re just setting ourselves up for failure because we’re starting with a list that NO human is actually accomplishing. It’s just a greatest hits compilation we’ve created in our own heads that we’re giving them all credit for.

If there is one thing we have learned in our nine years of being full time in this business it’s this: If you waste all of your energy running left and running right just trying to keep up with what everyone else is doing, all you end up is really tired and never once moving forward. 

I think the word “frenetic energy” comes into play here. The word itself is a derivative of frenzied or frantic. But in scientific terms, we use it to describe an entity that is exerting a ton of vibrations of energy…just to stay in one spot. Aren’t you tired of being frenetic, frenzied & frantic?

Today, I want you to recognize your success meter for what it is: the checklist of somebody else’s dream. Now take a deep breath and ask yourself…what does success actually look like for me? Now let’s go do that.