Confidence in Your Dreams, Your Skills and Your Decisions

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If you end up with a boring, miserable life because you listened to your mom, your dad, your teacher, your prieset, or some guy on TV telling you how to do your shit, then YOU DESERVE IT.”
Frank Zappa


I don’t usually quote Frank Zappa, but he hit on one of my pet peeves, people who can’t make a move without checking with dozens of other people to get confirmation that what they’re doing is right. Feedback is terrific, but most of the time you know in your gut whether you’re going in the right direction or not. We all do it, some more often than others. It’s all about insecurity and could so often be neutralized by doing more things to build your confidence.

I’m not saying don’t listen to people you respect, just stop putting so much weight on what they tell you…this is your dream, not theirs. Listen to what everybody tells you and then boil it all down and put it through the “heart test”. This is real simple…if it doesn’t feel right in your heart, then put it on the back burner or modify it.

Take responsibility for your career. It’s not an easy thing to do and I’m a perfect example. I worked for Polaroid, Hasselblad, PhotoAlley and Rangefinder/WPPI before finally getting the nerve to direct my own destiny. I always worked for other companies.

I was able to head out on my own for two primary reasons…first, it was time. I knew in my heart, regardless of the people who told me I was nuts, it was time to head out on my own. Second, I had a great partner to help me stay focused on my skills and remind me of those things I did really well and other areas where I needed outside support.

I reference my wife, Sheila a lot in my blog posts…she’s my muse, often my inspiration and definitely a shoulder to cry on. She helps me strategize, think through new projects and puts her opinion in whenever it’s appropriate. She knows the questions to ask in order to help me find my own answers.

This is all about building confidence and believing in yourself, but it doesn’t happen overnight. Here are a few suggestions to help you speed up the process.

  • Identify a couple of people who know you better than you do yourself, but most important, they understand your dream.
  • Attend every convention you can find time for. Don’t be dollar wise and nickel foolish – in other words, even if money is tight, find a way to attend. At every convention you’ve got a chance to learn something new and make the trip pay for itself.
  • Read every blog by every photographer/educator you admire.
  • Spend some time on YouTube. Just plug in any name in the search box and then watch a few of the videos that come up
  • Join your local camera guild, club or PPA chapter and go to every meeting. 
  • Enter print competitions and listen to the feedback.
  • At every convention, introduce yourself to the speakers. They’re teaching because they love to teach and most of them love to meet their students – they’re all very approachable.
Hard to believe that I started this post with Frank Zappa and I’m going to finish with Steve Jobs – both great advice and all under the topic of my wife’s favorite quote, “To thine own self be true!”

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Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.  Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.  Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.  And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
                                                 Steve Jobs

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