Within the last two weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to travel around the country and soak in knowledge of many of the greats in this industry. From marketing to shooting to business. I’ve learned so much knowledge that I could just vomit it all over the screen for ya’ll to read. Instead, the one moment that stuck out above all, rests in an awkward, unsolicited comment by a stranger.
Standing at one of these conferences I was speaking with one of these “greats” with a few photographers standing around listening. My goal for the discussion was to amp myself to the next level but recognizing my limitations. I never mentioned my limitations in the discussion with the mentor, just that I wanted to be more efficient in my business.
At the end of the discussion I turned away and this complete stranger turns to me and goes, “maybe you should put your business on hold; you don’t know what it is like to have a baby and run a business. It’s a whole new ball game and alot of work.” I could’ve gone on and on to her about how I started my business on pennies, while in law school, a 4 year old and a newborn with my husband in Iraq. Instead, I was so taken a-back by the blunt rudeness of a complete stranger and fellow photographer that I was stunned. I’m an individual who is pretty quick on my feet in retorts and sarcasm (one of my not so admirable qualities), but I was speechless.
Completely and utterly speechless.
Here I am, at an event soaking in knowledge and anticipating growth with photographers around the country and I’m being faced with one of the many giants that my workshoppers express to me about. Here I was naively thinking that people only pretended to be a keyboard commando and spread this negativity from the safety behind their keyboard. And I’m having someone tear me down in front of a room of photographers with no concern for how it may make me feel.
It is amazing how many emails I receive with a simple thank you that I’m so willing to help because so many photographers won’t. I used to think that it was because these photographers were busy and unable/unwilling to help, which is completely their prerogative. However, after this interaction I realize that is only part of the picture. It’s the rampant negativity that is plaguing society and the stabs people are willing to take against potential competition. You can market without tearing another down.
If you’re worrying about tearing your competition down, then you’re not spending your time efficiently for your business.
This person doesn’t know me, know my name, my bottom line, nor my family life. Yet they felt compelled to be negative. What if I was the type of person who faltered under this type of comment? What if I did give up because of one negative comment? Sure, she may have thought she was helping me, but shouldn’t we help with encouragement and building one another up. I sincerely think maybe she thought she was helping, but the approach was all wrong. Despite her intentions, it got the wheels spinning in my head. Am I happy seeing people who get a DSLR out of the box, start a business, never get legit, never pay taxes? NO. But what would a witch hunt or being a negative nancy do? Instead, I personally have recognized the need for help in this area. Hence, my entire business and marketing workshop aspect of my business. I’m not saying run out and start mentoring or workshops. Recognize a need in another photographer, encourage and help. Don’t tear them down.
Another reoccurring theme that I heard the past two weeks is the change in the industry. Influx of newer photographers. Attitudes of oldies. I don’t care if you’re new, old, best, worst. At the end of the day I care about whether you tear someone down or build someone up. I guess the point of my rambling is that I want to encourage ONE person. Just one. (More would be fantastic). Turn obstacles in your life into springboards. Don’t let negative nancy’s deter you. I’m not where I want to be in my business, but I’m where I want to be as a voice of encouragement. If I never succeed to the photography level I want, that is okay. As long as I’m able to lift some of my followers up and encourage them to succeed, that in and of itself is more than enough for me.
If you’re reading this and have been the subject of a negative nancy’s comments, ignore them. Use it as a springboard. Evaluate the obstacles in your life, and use them to move you forward. The only person stopping you is YOU.
If you have been lucky enough to steer clear from this negativity, then please. Go. Encourage someone today.
Here is my daily encouragement. Cliche but true.
Having the flexibility to be my own boss and be there for my kids is worth all the negative nancy’s comments in the world.