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You can endure the pain


A few days ago, I wrote about pain. The kind you experience when you’re trying so hard to make your photography business work … but it’s just not happening. Not yet, anyway. This is PAINFUL — for various reasons.

You could quit. That would stop the pain.

Or, you could listen to the underlying message that your pain is telling you: make adjustments in order to succeed!

If that’s the courageous path you’ve chosen, then perhaps you’re staring that pain STRAIGHT in it’s face right now. You’re conducting honest self examinations and you’re looking at your business for what it is — both the strengths and weaknesses and you’re tweaking. And tweaking. And tweaking.

But, it hurts. It hurts when things aren’t working out even though you’re working hard! And as we already discussed in the first article of this two-part series, most people don’t like to deal with pain. And especially not when it goes on for years.

If, by chance, you’re tempted to quit, take a moment and think about R.U. Darby and the millions he missed out on all because he gave up too soon.

Darby was a millionaire. But before he made his fortune, he started off by having a MAJOR DOH! moment. It all started when he went in search of gold — and found some. He bought some equipment and went to work digging. Eventually though, he just wasn’t turning up anything. So, he did the “smart” thing and stopped wasting his time! He quit.

He sold his digging equipment to a junkman who went back to the spot, hired an engineer, and discovered that the gold was just three feet from where Darby had stopped drilling. THREE FEET. The junkman went on to take up MILLIONS of dollars in gold from the mine.

Darby was THIS close.

If he’d kept going just a little longer … despite the pain … he would have finally gotten the results he’d been desiring.

Are you THIS close?

Then, don’t quit now.


There’s a very, very easy way to instantly feel better about how things are going in your life and business. It can be summed up with one word: gratitude.

If you’re feeling particularly blue, frustrated, angry … or any other negative emotion … because things just aren’t where you want them to be with your business do this:

Stop. Take a deep breathe. And count your blessings.

They’re there. Even if you’re in the midst of your home being repossessed because your business isn’t working. Your life is still full of blessings.

Even if you’re still working your day job while trying to (slowly) make your photography business happen and you’re TIRED … your life is still full of blessings.

Even if you just shot a session you’re so proud of and the client writes back to say that she is not satisfied … your life is full of blessings.

The trick is learning how to focus on them. Once they are the focus in your day, every other “pain” in life becomes much easier to bear. In fact, they may even switch from being painful to just being … well … there.

Operate from a spirit of gratitude, and suddenly, you’ll begin to draw happy, appreciative people your way. They’ll be drawn to you because they’ll feel your gratitude in the words on your blog. In the emotion of your photographs. In the calm and genuine way you conduct yourself.

Operate from a spirit of gratitude, and you’ll be able to endure the pain that comes with not getting what we want … the instant we want it.

Your business is a work in progress.

Keep going.



“If you count all your assets, you always show a profit.” Robert Quillen


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Pain, Lepers, and the Business of Photography

(Is that not the strangest title you’ve ever seen? Yes, probably … but stay with me.)

According to a recent Institute of Medicine Report: Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education, and Research, pain is a significant public health problem that costs society at least $560-$635 billion annually, an amount equal to about $2,000.00 for everyone living in the U.S.


When faced with statistics like this, it’s safe to conclude that 1.) Americans are feeling pain, and 2.) we don’t like it.

Having lost (and subsequently regained) my health at a young age, I’m very interested in all books that discuss people’s experiences with healing. Perhaps one of the best books out there (in my humble opinion) on the broad subject of health is Norman Cousins’s “The Anatomy of an Illness”.

In the book, Cousins details how he fell ill and was essentially told by most doctors that recovery was unlikely. Though he was NOT an MD, he went on to take matters into his own hands and discovered various methods of awakening his body’s inner healing abilities — including daily laughter and large doses of Vitamin C. He checked himself out of the hospital and into a hotel room where you could truly rest, and went to work healing himself. He succeeded.

The Thing About Pain

At one point in the book, Cousins makes a very strong point about pain: It’s something we need.

Ok, now here’s where the leprosy comes in. Cousins details the account of a doctor by the name of Dr. Paul Brand who worked in India and specialized in the care of individuals suffering from leprosy. Lepers are often known for their gnarled and missing fingers, their blindness, and their sunken noses. For centuries, these ailments were considered to be part of the disease of leprosy. It’s just what happens when you have leprosy. Like a runny nose with a cold.

But Dr. Brand wanted to find out WHY. WHY did these things happen to individuals with leprosy?

He discovered something fascinating. Due to deadened nerve cells in the hands, a leper can easily injure his fingers or hands because the normal pain indicators don’t kick in before it’s too late. Imagine placing your hand on a hot frying pain without pain to tell you that your hand is burning! It became clear that injury was part of the problem for the hands. But why were lepers fingers disappearing overnight? The doctor made a surprising discovery! Individuals stricken with leprosy are almost always from very poor underdeveloped countries with bad sanitation. He discovered that rats were actually eating the fingers of the lepers at night while they slept. Because there was no pain, the individual had no idea it was happening and would wake up with part of their finger missing.

As for the blindness, the more the doctor probed, he came to realize that lepers don’t blink … nor do they feel the pain associated with having something in your eye. Without the constant cleaning that comes from regular blinking, the eyes are gradually damaged to the point of blindness.

So essentially, what the doctor discovered is that PAIN would save the lepers hands and eyes. To a leper, PAIN would be a luxury.

What’s that got to do with photography?


Many of us are conditioned to think of pain (in any form) as a bad thing. We pull away from it. This is good in the case of hand on the hot skillet! But there are times when pulling away from pain, or attempting to mask over it actually leads to more harm than good.

Pain can be likened to your “check engine” light. The pain is saying “stop … take note! Something’s wrong with the car.” You could cover over the light with a piece of colored tape so that you don’t have to think about it any longer. But that won’t fix the actual problem — a problem that will one day leave you stranded on the side of the road. That light is there to tell you that you need to make a change. You need adjust something before it’s too late.

What about with your photography business? Are you feeling pains? Perhaps they come in the form of not having enough clients. Or not generating enough revenue. Or ROYALLY messing up a wedding shoot. Or feeling like a failure because other photographers appear to be succeeding while you’re not.

You could yank yourself away from the source of the pain and say: “I quit! It’s just not working. It HURTS.”

Or, you could say … thank you for the warning, pain! I NEED to make a change. I NEED to try new things. I NEED to learn more. I NEED to get better. I NEED to work SMARTER. I need to ADJUST. And … KEEP GOING.

If you’re currently dealing with business growing pains of any sort, resist the urge to try and ignore the warning signs. Many entrepreneurs mask over them or tune them out. Smart business owners recognize the value in the pain and LISTEN to every single warning sign that comes their way. That pain is telling you something! Listen to it and you’ll be one step closer to your ultimate goal of success!

But what if you are staring that pain square in the jaw and working SUPER hard to figure out how to fix the problems that are causing it … but you’re suffering! It hurts! Our next blog post will look at ways to endure the pain. Come on back!


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motivation monday: be a leader this week

qualified_for_the_jobRecently, I had to make a shift in the way I view myself. For the last eight years, I’ve been viewing myself as a photographer. An artist.

But I’m more than an artist. (And this is where the mental shift has had to come in. Or, is still progressively coming in.) I’m also an entrepreneur. I’m the leader of my own little one-person business.

I’m not sure why it took eight years to really figure this out. But it did. And that’s ok.

Armed with this new realization, I started reading more than just books on photoshop and art. I began looking for information and motivation to help nourish the leader in me. (This is such a new concept for me that it actually feels funny typing the word “leader”.)

So, what makes a good leader?

In the Forbes article “Four Traits of Effective Leaders You Should Steal Today,” the author lists four traits that I want to work on cultivating.

  1. “They are future-savvy in that they not only predict the future, but also rehearse it by looking at the range of possibilities and possible courses of action to address each scenario. They ask the right questions and generally make good decisions.
  2. They are pioneers because they are willing to explore new market territory, new domains, new customers, and new businesses. They break the traditional rules and seek market opportunities that are not well served.
  3. They are realists who are in tune with the marketplace and possess the skill to communicate this reality to the rest of the organization. They are willing to make brutally frank and honest assessments of everything inside and outside of the enterprise, and they are not afraid to tell it like it is.
  4. They make choices—large and small. While making the large choices (major strategy issues, new alliances, and partnerships) is important to the organization’s well being, many successes and failures are created in the details of the small choices—whom you listen to and whom you avoid, meetings you attend or blow off, what excites you and what bores you, etc.”

This week, I want to work on making choices … and making them quickly. I’m an amazing idea generator. I mean, they FLY out of me! I am NOT an amazing executor. But I will become one.

What are you going to work on this week? Let’s cheer each other on!

Happy Monday!

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