“To Thine Own Self Be True”

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Shakespeare gets the credit for the line, but you have to take credit for walking the talk!  

I found a great little article in Psychology Today that started out: “To thine own self be true” is one of the underlying tenets of recovery. But how do we honor this wise sentiment by Shakespeare? One way is to check in with the “me” that I’m trying to be true to. Checking in can involve slowing down, writing, meditating, and noticing what we are experiencing rather than running on autopilot. Checking in tends to involve tuning in to our body or to our “higher self,” rather than tuning in to our “monkey mind” (the running commentary that we are telling ourselves.)

I really like the way they put that.  Whether you realize you’re in “recovery” or not, from my perspective we’re ALL in recovery. In reference to the challenges of business, technology, the economy and marketing, anybody who says they always love their job and hasn’t had a day when they wanted to run away and join the circus is lying!  LOL

Running your own business is tough, especially in photography. At the same time you’re trying to fine tune your skills as an artist, you’re being forced to learn the operational aspects of running a business. Your left brain is fighting it out with your right brain almost daily. You know you need more help, but as a small business owner who hasn’t been at this very long you’ve got to keep an eye on your costs because you’re still a one-man-band.

Well, we’re coming out of the first quarter. What’s become known as the photo industry’s slow season is about to change. Hopefully, you’ve spent the last three months thinking about new ideas to strengthen your business and ways you can thrive, not just survive.

There’s a great line – instead of,  If it ain’t broke don’t fix it,  it should be, If it ain’t broke you haven’t looked hard enough.  I’d love to take credit for this little gem of wisdom, but I think it was Tom Peters in the early 80’s, The reality is we can all use some fine-tuning, but we have to first recognize where things aren’t working as smoothly as they should.  Maybe you’re in better shape than you think, but I’m betting you haven’t taken a break in a long time.

Sadly, for many of you, there’s not enough down time – and that’s the real theme of this multifaceted post today…

No matter how good or bad business was last year, you can’t be creative if you’re living in a pressure cooker.  You’ve got to recognize your own weaknesses and take a break, recharge your battery and do something that’s away from the direct challenges of the business.  Do something you love to do that doesn’t push the edge of the envelope on those weakest links in your skill set.

So, even though it’s probably been a quiet first three months of the year, kick back for a little while today and set a goal to give yourself a break here and there in the months ahead.   If you’ve been feeling frustrated, remember you’re not alone.   But, if you’re looking to stand out a little, taking a break, might just clear your head and create a enough space on your mental hard drive for more ideas.

Julieanne Kost, from Adobe, gave me a great line once when I asked her to get involved in a project I was working on. “I’d love to, but I’m just out of bandwidth!”   That said it all and we moved the date of the project to a time when she knew she could give it 100%.

If you don’t recognize when you’re out of bandwidth and the need to step away from the business now and then, what’s the good of working this hard?   So, to thine own self be true…recognize when you need a break…shut off the  computer and your phone for a little while and just enjoy your family and friends – you’ve earned it!

Skip Cohen


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