Playing an Infinite Game - A Story About Growth
I’m not afraid to say that I fail.
And in the beginning of my photographic career I failed…a lot.
In my defense, it was mostly ignorance. I just didn’t know the differences between the nearly infinite directions someone can choose when just starting out on any chosen career path.
Of all of the failures I’ve had in my life, those pertaining to photography stand out most prominently to me. Mostly because every step that I’ve taken has been completely self-directed and there was no one else to blame for things not working out.
And honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I say that because I believe that through failure, if viewed properly, you gain so much.
Let me take you back to one of the most successful failures of my life.
When I first began my photographic career, my thoughts were set firmly in the belief that the only way to make a living with a camera was through doing weddings and portrait photography. To that end, I took a job as an On-Site “mobile” studio portrait photographer with a national portrait company called United Studios. That was a bad decision of which I will spare you the details.
That being said, two amazing things happened because of this failed career choice.
The first is meeting a young photographer by the name of Brad Carson. Ten years younger and already years into his BA in Fine Art Photography through Arizona State University, he taught me more than I can ever repay, including introducing me to black and white darkroom printing and became a life-long friend.
The second was an introduction of a different type. One that I wouldn’t appreciate until much later in life.
Upon being hired with United Studios my manager, in his unorthodox management style, gave me two books to study to “make me a better salesman.” I was younger and honestly, much more arrogant and prideful. I was studying photography not sales. So I didn’t even bother to open them.
It wasn’t until many years later when I found them again in a box of other forgotten books. At this time I understood the importance of learning sales techniques. Having failed miserably in the wedding/portrait business and back to having a “day job” I decided to give these books a chance. I never would have guessed that the impact of that decision would be so life changing. The books were Tony Robbins’ “Awaken the Giant Within” and “What to say when you talk to yourself” by Dr. Shad Helmstetter.
These books led to others of their kind and through them I learned the importance of failure and more importantly, the importance of not giving up.
Because of my failure in thinking that my success would be tied to portrait and wedding photography, I have learned so much more about myself, my family, my own personal artistic style and even the stock market.
Mostly though, I’ve learned that I don’t play to win, I play so I can keep playing. Seth Godin (another remarkable author and ex-Yahoo marketing leader) calls it “The Infinite Game”, a game of persistence of effort and a competition with our own potential.
I still continue to fail. But now I know that each failure is just another stepping stone on my chosen path to artistic success.
If you’ve read this far, thank you for indulging me and promise yourself that no matter had difficult things get, you will continue to put one foot in front of the other and that you will refuse give up.
P.S. when you’re in doubt, pick up a book from Seth Godin, Tony Robbins or Dr. Shad Helmstetter. I promise that the only thing you’ll regret is not picking them up sooner.
Here's some links to the mentioned authors.