Measuring Success

“Don’t wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful.”  ~Mark Victor Hansen

I spent the last week of 2011 in my hometown with my parents and my older sister – something I don’t often get to do.  While I was there, my sister helped me plan a “hometown photo day” at the local community building, offering mini portrait sessions at a very minimal cost.  It was a great idea that I plan on repeating in the spring.  Our timing for this one was slightly off, and the turnout was extremely low. 

Other than my mom, I had only one other couple who took advantage of the offer.  So I had a lot of time to think about how I measure my success.  Since I started my photography career nearly 6 years ago, I have been on a roller coaster ride of ups and downs – the Ups being opportunities that I never imagined, like meeting and photographing the Dalai Lama, First Lady Michelle Obama, traveling with the University of Northern Iowa men’s basketball team to the Sweet 16 – and many other amazing people not necessarily as famous, but no less inspiring through my lens.  The Downs of this business have been mostly related to money or travel – and the glaring lack of both.  I also have spent a great deal of time comparing myself, my work, and my journey to some of my seemingly more successful peers.

Remember that couple who took advantage of my hometown photo offer?  Turns out they were there because they had never had a professional portrait together, even though they had been together for a while.  It was my great honor to be the photographer they chose to make their first portrait together.  That, to me, is a tremendous success.

So, I have decided to change how I measure success, not only in my business but in life as well.  My wish for us all is that 2012 be filled with moments like the one I experienced back home, for those moments are the true measure of success.

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