November 22, 2012

They never said it would be easy..but then again maybe it shouldn’t be.


So I preface my thoughts here with two caveats: 1)  They are my observations of the symbiotical human nature/life thing, 2) I have no idea WHY human nature is what it is other than it's what God decided to do in his ultimate wisdom that cannot be fathomed fully by the created.

For a majority of us, we must work to get where we want to go and do what we want to do.  And not always does it work out.  Some wash out, some rise to fame, some content themselves with mediocrity, and some are in denial.

There are a few born into this world that have not had to work to be successful nor had to figure out what they want to be successful at or figure out what it is going to take to try and be successful.  For the sake of this attempted elucidation, let's ignore those people.

To each of us our measure of success varies, but in the end we usually have to work hard to obtain a level of success by which we measure ourselves.  Some have to work hard being schooled, and some have to work hard schooling themselves.  As I grow older and my kids grow older, I find contentment in the hard work I have endured to get where I am today as a husband, father, business owner, and photographer (and trust me, EACH is it's own labor of love path).  I can only wish the same for my children who are of a generation mesmerized by a society of instant gratification that humanity has never really seen before.

It's a double edged sword that we live in a world of instant gratification.  While on one side we are lucky to live in a time when access to information and fun and money is easier to come by than in the days of our parents and grandparents.  And I am amazed by those who feel they should be able to be successful by just showing up.  For the lazy, they don't understand why success cannot be theirs..I mean they can get instant information, instant credit, instant toys, and spend all their time with instant messaging and instant fun.  So they wonder, "What the heck?!  Where's the instant career?"

Then there are those who realize there is no such thing as becoming a professional or expert instantly.  They understand the concept of earning their stripes.  Life is strange in that it requires humans to put effort into becoming successful.  There is an odd symbiotic synergy between life and human nature this way.

It seems that success in anything is something one has to earn through blood, sweat, tears, and time.   Anything less and you run the risk of becoming a one hit wonder that people quickly forget when your instant win cannot provide you the staying power to be consistent.  I think this is what made the days of apprenticeship turn out artisans of a craft or trade and winnowed out the hacks and the wannabes.  Yes, for the majority, life demands you to roll up your sleeves, get into the mess of things, make mistakes, and get your butt chewed every once in a while to keep you grounded.  And low and behold, as you work your way through it all you get better and better at your trade or craft, while gaining humility, wisdom, patience and finally, respect for the unique bit of artistry you forged and added to your execution of the trade.  None of these are ever obtained "instantly".

Many years ago I fell in love with photography and videography.   For several years now I have been endeavoring to work my butt off to be the best photographer I can be for those who are entrusting me to capture that coolness of life they love, while still attempting to be the best husband and father and bread winner I can be to support my family.  I work a non photography job by day 8-5; I study the photography masters by early morning; I manage our small family photography business by night;  and I work photography shoots everywhere in between.

I live for hard work, and I've danced dangerously close to the cliff of the work-a-holic on more occasions than I should have.  But by the grace of God I know where my priorities are with my wife and kids, and by the grace of God I have not lost my wife or kids when I imperfectly danced the work-a-holic dance.  I have a vision of where I want to be, and I have set goals and measures to guide my path.  However, none of it's "instant oat meal" and nobody is giving me a guarantee that any of it will amount to a hill of beans.  There's a high probability I may not even be able to stay the course in this thing called photography, but there are guiding lights that motivate me and steer me.

At present, I kind of have three photography guiding lights (Joe McNally, Zack Arias, & Chase Jarvis) I like to follow.  As I read their bios and watch their careers, I am confronted by their stories and journeys....they are not instant...they are real, humble, downright honest and they earned their knowledge the hard way;  and they are not afraid to share.  They apply their own unique artistry to the trade.  They try new things and they don't give up easily.  From what I can tell they have been through hell and back in all things "life"... relationships, fatherhood, industry and financial.  They are who they are today by where they have been yesterday.

I think success should not be measured by who you think you are, but how you engage the world and show it what you have to offer.

Until next time:  Love Yourself, Love Your Neighbor, and Stay Unique!

Michael P. Young