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Welcome to Michael's blog. Michael Andrew, (aka Michael The Maven) is a freelance producer, photography instructor, tech innovator, and when needed, disaster aid specialist. Disclaimer: Michael is a participant in Bhphoto & Amazon affiliate programs that provides an advertising commission if you purchase through links on this website.


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08.10.09         michael's insights  

How to Crush Someone’s Dreams: Give them what they want most



Im not exactly sure how this post is going to sound, but Ive been thinking about it for so long that its just time to sit down and get my thoughts on paper. Ive had some really interesting experiences the last few weeks and I think I have learned a very valuable principle I would like to share.

The famous saying: “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for the rest of his life.” Is SO dang true….but there is a third phrase I want to add: “Give a man a fishing pole, and he will stop fishing all together” – a forth would be “And he will then expect a boat as well”

I am a very firm believer that Knowledge can only come through Sacrifice. If you are studying for a test, there is sacrifice involved, and the effort you take to sit down and really study is what earns you the knowledge that will earn you a good grade. Someone can give you the answers for the test, which may allow you to ace it, but because you haven’t sacrificed, you really don’t know the principles of the knowledge.

Typically, If a person has a dream and does not sacrifice to achieve it, they wont get it.

However, much worse, are the rare instances that someone decides to “just give it” to them anyway. I’m learning that this will completely destroy the dream all together, because they haven’t sacrificed to get it. There is no knowledge gained from faith tested. The dream was easily attained and is now not valued at all. There is a deep sense of personal satisfaction knowing you had to work, bite, scrape, plot, crawl through mud to achieve a dream and having sacrificed makes it so much more valuable to you. You appreciate it- without that payment, it means so much less.

One of the major problems with beginning photographers who want to start a photography business, is they are RISK adverse, meaning, they are UNWILLING to take a chance, to lose some money for possible gain. They are terrified of failure and cannot act staring into the face of defeat. Many would rather not take a chance at all because of the fear of the consequences. They always want the conditions to be perfect, or to have a safe 100% bet that it will all work out, or even have a handy reason why they cannot act and excuse themselves as an exception.

I’ve seen it dozens of times…that once they take that leap of faith and actually embrace some risk, and there is that fundamental element of sacrifice, they are rewarded with knowledge of how the process works. Knowledge and experience lead to confidence, and this is why others who have been doing it for years wont think twice about it.

When I was shooting weddings last year, I quickly learned something about the second shooters invited: If they had sacrificed and purchased their own cameras (not even necessarily the ones they had with them at the time) they were much more driven and knowledgeable about what they wanted in their profession and in life.

If they didn’t own a camera (and wanted to borrow mine), or had it given to them, they were not nearly as driven and couldn’t seem to “read-between-the-lines” on what needed to get done at the shoot. I hate to use these terms, but they wanted everything spoon-fed, or were quick to forget something I explained to them. It just didn’t stick.

After a few experiences with this, I would no longer allow a photographer to shoot second with me who hadn’t purchased his or her own camera. I still get questions all the time that make me think, “this is readily available information, if they cannot research it all on their own, they may not be ready for this. I wonder if I tell them the answer, am I making their problem worse? Am I slowly killing their dream?” If its at a workshop, I have no problem giving them all the answers for questions they have, because they have sacrificed their time and money to be there, and I know it will stick.

I’ve come across literally hundreds of photographers who would have liked to have come to a workshop, but the registration fee was too much, or maybe the distance too far, or they didn’t have a camera, or other obligations prevented them from doing so. I completely understand this, and I am truly sympathetic but speaking bluntly, which I don’t like to do, it just means its not important to you as you might think it is.

If you approach your goals from the perspective of “Can I do this if my life depended on it?” you will find that in most cases the answer is yes. If this is true, what this really means is when you can’t seem to reach your goals is: “You just don’t want it bad enough.” I know that may be a tough pill to swallow, but it’s the best advice I can give you, because its how I speak to myself.

I had a good friend interested in coming to one, but he/she didn’t have a camera. This person has wanted to be a photographer their whole lives, and as soon as I said I would help figure out a way for them to borrow a camera, and to give me a call, etc.- suddenly they lost interest.

I had another close personal friend want to attend, and I didn’t feel right taking money from this person (something we talk about at the workshops). She has been wanting to start her own full time photography business and had a camera given to her as a gift (not by me). All I asked her to do was to register online and show up. She couldn’t do it…it was too hard. She couldn’t find a way to do this simple thing and when it comes down to it, if you cant do that, it would be wrong for me to tell you that you are going to be successful as a photographer, because you just aren’t going to make it.

Please understand, I am not ripping on anyone specifically, Im not mad, and I am not complaining or anything like that, I’m just saying, until you are ready to make the sacrifice, you don’t deserve the knowledge. For me to give it to someone, would actually hurt them. Im more convinced of it now than ever.

Im tired of hearing about all the bailouts and government plans to coddle- Bail yourself out. As soon as you begin to rely on someone else to provide for you, you are losing power to control your own destiny, and you are losing the opportunity to learn from sacrifice, and to gain knowledge from faith. Im shocked by how many people complain about the economy or having no job, and then they sit in front of the TV or internet all day. This doesn’t make sense to me. If you don’t like your situation….pay the price and change it.

Refusing to change something in your life that you do not like is the same as choosing to have that thing.

Refusing to sacrifice for that change is the same as not wanting it.

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