So many of my friends in the creative fields are struggling with COVID wreaking havoc on their dreams the past couple of years.
Before COVID – 19 I counseled a good number of younger people who were exploring using photography/videography as a career. Many of these were people feeling a call to do work in nonprofit world.
Dreaming big means having the mental freedom to think about what you really want out of life and forget about all the reasons why you can’t make it a reality. For the first time in my lifetime, many people had the mental freedom due to COVID. I think this is why there was “The Great Resignation” in our culture.
“It’s better to have an impossible dream than no dream at all.”– Anonymous
Dreamers are not going down a well worn path that so many have done before them. Develop a growth mindset—or the belief that growth and that learning are more important than success or other people’s opinions—can help you shift your focus to the journey instead of the end goal.
Explore What Really Matters To You
Don’t get stuck is dreaming small. The one thing that for me is core to dreaming big is wanting to have a purpose in life. I want a sense of meaningful direction in life. I want to be using my gifts to help other and bottom line–I want to be appreciated and feel like people need me in their lives.
I really felt like I had achieved one of my dreams when I was on staff at Georgia Tech. My dream was not to work at Georgia Tech. My dream was to use photography to help tell stories that engaged people into learning more about their world and how to improve it.
It just so happened to do this would require my science & technology geek side to make these photos. I had to use my lighting skills, photojournalism skills and storytelling to make strong images that helped tell these stories.
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”— Henry Stanley Haskins
Big dreams rarely have an instruction manual; you figure it out as you go. What will drive you is this sense of curiosity to figure things out.
Without action, big dreams are simply dreams.
When I started out my uncle told me to go and talk to his mentor and former boss Don Rutledge. Find someone who you admire and respect. Go and take them to lunch. Ask them how they got to where they are today and do they have any tips to give to someone starting out.
Ask people not if you are good enough to make it. Ask those who are experts what you can do to get better. Assume your work could use improvement. Just watching the Olympics is a great insight into why you are always needing to look for ways to improve. Shaun White five-time Olympian and a three-time Olympic gold medalist in half-pipe snowboarding, has to come up with new tricks each new Olympics. His competition is already copied what he did last time.
Ask lots of questions about different things in life. Why are things the way they are?
Why So Many Fail
There are so many reasons. Here are some things I have observed by colleagues that went away after time.
- Gave Up Too Early – Persistence and drive are needed to make it
- Not Asking For Help – Too many think they can do it all by themselves. No one can.
- Think About Failure, Rather Than Success – Giving into naysayers and negative self-talk
- Desire For Instant Gratification – Most marketing campaigns take 6 to 18 months before seeing any returns
- Afraid To Make Mistakes – Dreaming is about taking risks
- Not Wanting To Leave Your Comfort Zone
Find a Mentor & Coach
A mentor is someone you don’t necessarily pay and a coach is someone you do pay. Both I think are needed. Sometimes one person could serve both roles for you. However, mentors tend to be those who have achieved what you seek and coaches are those who know how to motivate you and ask the questions to help you focus.
We have it well documented that many abused wives find it hard to leave their situation. These battered women’s paradoxical responses to their abusers have perplexed professionals and laypersons alike. What they do know is that this survival mechanism and their ability to see beyond their situation is difficult.
Too many creatives have this same problem. However, just like those battered women there is help. I found that ASMP [American Society for Media Photographers] helped with education, coaching, mentoring and peer support on navigating this profession. The one thing that they realized that other photo groups don’t always acknowledge is that while we know how to take pictures, we didn’t know how to run a business.
Battered women have organizations to help them, creatives need to realize dreams are realized when you seek out help.
Meeting A Need Is Key To Success
Donald Miller is the CEO of Business Made Simple. He teaches how businesses need to make their customer the hero of the story. The first step a company has to identify the problem that their customers have that they can solve. Then they have to find a clear and concise way that communicates this to their market.
Miller tells those companies to add something that distinguishes them from all their competition. What is funny is that often there isn’t anything they do that other companies don’t do, but Don Miller says to communicate it and that will separate you from your competition that isn’t communicating it.
Miller has identified the key to success as you must meet the need of the customer and communicate how you know their problems and can solve them in all of your marketing.
I hope this helps to motivate you and clarify your dreams. Part of achieving your big dreams involves working through others. It is very rare that a single person is able to achieve a big dream on their own.
I think your first step is to find someone to talk to about your dreams. When you say them out loud they become real.
You would also need to show the connection/connect the dots between other people’s input and the achievement of your dream to enable others to see the big picture and enthusiastically support you.
To keep your fire burning and your dream alive, read inspirational material such as books, blogs, articles, magazines; listen to motivational audio CD’s, podcasts; watch motivating videos and talks; attend workshops, webinars and courses and listen to inspirational, uplifting and motivating music.
A good support system of like-minded people helps in preserving big dreams.