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hen photographer Zack Arias posted his video called Transform online, it made an impression on me. He poured his heart out in a very open and vulnerable way that spoke to the things I believe many of us struggle with as photographers, designers, artists, and creatives of all stripes.
Although a photographer, he used video to tell his story in a powerful way. I believe this method of communicating will continue to explode online as a new generation of kids grow up on YouTube and television.
The specialists like Zack are starting to realize that the new social media (now just the media) world we now live in will demand even more skills out of niche players than ever before.
Photographers must now be web designers, social media experts, producers, directors, workshop hosts, and many other things to stay in business and compete.
The pace can turn any creative into a heap of overwhelm.
What Zack says in his video is key to overcome this shift we are now experiencing in every industry from music to photography to film to publishing.
Going a Hundred Miles Per Hour
Ever feel like you are headed for a crash? That you cannot sustain the speed you are traveling?
In the opening ceremonies coverage of the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, I watched in sadness as Nodar Kumaritashvili, the 21-year-old luger from the former Soviet republic of Georgia, flew off the track at 88 m.p.h. into a steel beam at the Whistler Sliding Center.
His death rang out as a warning to us all. We cannot sustain this increasing amount of speed in our lives. Where does it end?
Pushing the limits is heroic, but at what expense? What purpose? The gold medal winners of the luge will be those who cheat death by flirting with the limit of being out of control. And our culture will reward them as heroes.
Suffering From The Sickness
Comparison. You see someone doing a great thing and you compare his work to yours. Her life to yours. His skill to yours. You mark the difference.
You can’t help it. You are infected and suffering from our human nature to compare and despair.
We forget that we each have a story to live and a special contribution to give. No one can live it for us.
The world will never be blessed with your presence again.
No matter what level we think we need to attain or successful accomplishment we need to achieve, comparison is a step backward.
Finding Your Voice
It will take time to stop comparing, to get to know ourselves and what God put uniquely in us to live out. That’s OK.
When you find it, your confidence will grow. You will be less likely to compare. Because you will be speaking out of your own heart, not trying to copy someone who is also fallible.
Artist vs Entrepreneur
Some of us will make money with our art. Some of us will be long gone when the money follows our work. Others will never see a penny.
Many artists choose one path or the other. They are either an artist or a business person.
“I hate money” or “I will hire the business side out” are common phrases heard among artists.
The reality is, to be a responsible artist, you must put money in the right perspective. It can enable you to create. You control it. It does not control you.
Don’t be afraid to learn how to control it to work for you. A carpenter is not afraid of a hammer or saw even though they can crush or cut. A carpenter learns how to use these tools in his craft.
Money is simply a tool. Artists must learn about money and business as if they were brushes in their bag.
Slowing down takes time. Resisting comparison takes time. Finding your voice takes time. Learning your craft takes time.
The way of an artist is paved with patience. Going a hundred miles per hour down an unpaved road doesn’t exactly make your life a pleasing experience.
The struggle doesn’t have to be so hard but many artists make it hard because they have to do their art full time right now.
They will go into debt, make bad business deals, copy others who they see as more successful, and miss the entire point of their existence.
They will hit speed bumps and run off the road. They might even get on a dead-end road. All because they lacked patience.
Transforming Is Worth It
Life is about your transformation. No great story has a character who doesn’t transform.
A main character who ends a movie the same as he began is probably in a bad movie. The same goes for your life.
We are not born perfect, which means improvement and change is a constant part of our lives until we die.
Change brings struggle. To struggle is the way of the artist and the way of life. To struggle for something worthy of our struggle makes it all worth it.
Personally in my life, I feel like my thinking takes me light years ahead of what my body can actually do.
There isn’t enough time in a day to accomplish all the things I want to do. Slowing down in simply my expectations would help me tremendously.
Patience stings when it’s at the expense of what you know you could be doing. But as I am learning, in the end, it’s not about accomplishment as much as it’s about who you become.
The accomplishment will come in time if what you are transforming into is worthy of your struggle. I hope these ideas resonate with you as much as they did for me.
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