“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” - Lao-tzu
“It scares me.”
I couldn’t believe what he was texting me. I mean, this is a gentleman that from the outside had it all together - great job, supportive wife, beautiful children, great job, nice home, ambition, dreams, great job, aspirations - (did I mention a great job?) but he was texting me because the pull of dream chasing was starting to outweigh the allure of that unfulfilling “great job” in the high rise office. The status and gorgeous views of downtown were no longer enough, he was ready to answer the call of entrepreneurship - or was he? The lifestyle that his career had created allowed for family vacations and private schools, but for him, taking the plunge into the uncertain waters of building a brand from scratch rivaled something off of an episode of Fear Factor.
Trust me, I understand. I started my company in May of 2003 by booking my very first wedding. A friend’s father was getting remarried, and I was working at a photography studio at the time, when they asked if I also photgraphed weddings. I had never even really thought of doing additional work on the side, but the opportunity to make some additional money on the side was intriguing, so I was in. Even though I had been shooting pictures since I was twelve years old, I must admit, I was nervous. I thought back to the time that I met Gordon Parks (my photo idol) and channeled my inner GP, taking amazing photos - but then, it happened… I dropped my effin camera. [Insert devastated face here.] ”This can’t be possible.”
My very first wedding… of my friend’s father… and this happens?! At the time, I was using a camera without removable lenses, so when it dropped, I was no longer able to zoom in or out and I couldn’t adjust the focus.. I had a choice, work with what I had, or tell the overjoyed, beautiful couple that I would be ruining their wedding day and every memory thereafter. For the rest of the night, in order for me to shoot images that would be in focus, I had to be 15 feet away from everything I shot - not closer, not farther. I shifted the gear to GO, made it work, and the newlyweds never knew what happened, until now.
Since that day, my journey of entrepreneurship has always been a story of GO. I’ve always had to make it work with what I’ve had. When I wanted to return to school full time to get my graphic design degree, I had to figure out how on earth I was going to pay the balance that was left after financial aid and grants - and no, I couldn’t borrow it from my parents [Insert side-eye here]. I’ve had to figure out how to pay bills when clients don’t pay their invoices on time. I’ve had to figure out how to get the entire workload done when I couldn’t count on the other staff members to pull their weight. I’ve had to find ways to keep the readers of this blog inspired in the midst of my own discouragement. I’ve had to push through the fears, make decisions in the face of my giants. I’ve had to figure out how to GO when everything around me says stop.
The other day, I couldn’t find the words to text back that would solve that young man’s dilemma or ease his fears. Maybe his best choice was to step onto the path of starting the business gradually, following his dreams while simultaneously working the job he no longer loved. Perhaps his road was the more instant transition of two week notices and severe lifestyle changes. Either way, I couldn’t make the choice for him. That’s where listening to that still small voice comes into play. I couldn’t shift his life to GO and press the pedal for him, only he could do that. All I could do is be honest. I told him that entrepreneurship isn’t easy. It’s pushing through the fears on long nights to follow your purpose. It’s sacrificing the comforts of guaranteed checks to roll the dice on what could be - and that is scary. But you will figure it all out. I promise you, if it’s meant to be you will always find a way to GO…
… (and other people will take notice).