The word warrior is something that has transformed into more of a playful adjective — something that we would ascribe to our favorite professional athletes rather then our military service men and women where it rightfully belongs. Still, being a warrior, whether today or in times past, is serious business.
In most societies, the warrior class is given the utmost respect because the people depend upon them for their safety and protection. Something not everyone in society is capable of providing on their own. Warriors are a small subset of the population with a very particular and specialized set of skills. A warrior also tends to have unmatched mental fortitude, since they are required to confront their mortality far more often than is reasonable or healthy for any person. If you’re in business, chances are that your aptitudes are not in the art of war, but you must become a photography warrior.
Become A Photography Warrior!
The foremost aspect of being a warrior is the high awareness of the consequences of failure. In this kind of life the consequence of failure is injury or death. You also depend greatly on the person next to you to not make a mistake, because this could also cost someone their life. Suffice it to say, the stakes are very real and the mentality is that failure is not an option. You also become very connected to those beside you because of the immense trust you put in them.
I challenge you to develop the same mindset in your photography business as if you were a warrior. The world tells you that what you do is fun, and I hope it is, but owning your own business isn’t really fun. It’s fulfilling, it’s challenging, it’s rewarding, but most of the time it isn’t fun. If you run any business, the stakes are high and failure should not be an option. Don’t let someone make light of what you do for a living. The artwork that you create for your clients is important. What you do is no less meaningful than growing food or building houses. Diversity makes life rich and beautiful and everyone plays a part. The sooner you realize that your business is valuable, the sooner the consequences of failure become much more real.
Attention to Detail
When you start to take the consequences of failure seriously, the natural result is that you become much more serious about your training and process. Your work ethic and decisions matter. One pitfall that photography business owners tend to fall into is not knowing enough about their business. Too many togs think their business is super easy — it’s not. No business is easy.
There’s a temptation to boil your business down to its most superficial essence. I have something to sell, you have money, I give you my stuff for your money. Easy right — not really. All the previous situation describes is a transaction, which is only one component of the deal. The problem is most photographers are not even getting to the transaction because they haven’t taken enough interest in how you get to that point. Your business depends on myriad little things in order for that fundamental business transaction to take place, so a photography warrior will take interest in the nuance that facilitates that relationship.
Love the Game
One of the best television series to come out of the BBC is Sherlock. I like the show for a lot of reasons, but for our purposes I want to focus on one aspect of Sherlock Holmes character. A recurring phrase that comes from Sherlock is “The Game Is On!” This phrase always coincided with a distinct change in the character’s disposition. Sherlock is a bored genius, waiting for some puzzle to push him — to give his life meaning. In other words, Sherlock thrives when he is in his element and ferociously seeks out cases to put him there.
In this respect we are all a little like Sherlock. We all seek out activities that put us in our element. There are some things that we are naturally drawn to, and business may not be one of them, but we must make business our game. You see, no painter was born with a brush, no architect was born with a pencil, no photographer was born with a camera. We all have things we are drawn to, but regardless of our preferences, life requires that we acquire some skills that we are not predisposed to. Business may be one of those skills. You may not be naturally drawn to it, but you need to make it so.
Embrace Your Weaknesses
There is a powerful tendency to avoid things we perceive we are deficient in. If you had bad coordination growing up, chances are that you steered clear of sports. The irony of a choice like that is that sports are among the best tool we have to develop coordination. You may have to endure some ridicule in order to develop those skills, but the payoff will be great. As I said above, we are all typically a little uncoordinated when it comes to business. I think some of us shy away from business because we think we are naturally deficient. The benefit to this is, starting a business and being part of the game will help you develop the skills you need to win. Eventually, if you are persistent, you will begin to love the game of business.
Be A Survivor
Ultimately a big part of being a warrior is surviving. Surviving is what many of the skills you develop in training are geared toward. There are many things that will happen to you in business that you will not be prepared for. This is the nature of life, you can’t always anticipate every eventuality. The good news is that if you put in the time to develop and hone your business skills, you will be able to deal with those things as they come. As a result, you’ll not only survive, but you will thrive as a photography warrior.
photo credit: Cristian Newman