How often have you wondered if you’re doing something the right way? From a new business venture to creating a piece of art, to something as simple yet extremely complex as love…we’ve all been there, wondering if we’re messing it up completely. For a long time in my business I was plagued with the idea that the “professionals” knew how to do everything and me, the “amateur”, knew nothing. It was as if there was a plateau, and on top were the people who had all of the secrets demystified. And then there was me, at the base of the plateau looking up, wondering how I would scale a vertical wall.
Something changed in my brain one day when someone asked me what the secret to success was. Previously it has always been me wondering the same thing of others who seemed so successful, and when the question was turned back on myself, I realized that there was no right answer. Success is about perception, both your own and that of those around you. To someone else I might seem successful, and to me I might feel the opposite. Or I might know I’m successful, but that might not show to anyone else. No matter the case, the more we believe in ourselves, the more others will believe as well.
This lead me to think about the top things that us know we are doing something right.
1. You have NO IDEA what the HECK you are doing.
Anyone can follow the leader. We learn how to do that when we are six years old. But it takes greater ingenuity and strength to forge your own path and do something a little differently. It takes creativity and guts and sweat and doubt. And when all of those things mix together, you’ll come out the other side with either a lot to learn from, or an amazing new journey.
2. Other people think you’re CRAZY.
Have you ever had someone, a family member or friend, ask if you are crazy? When I started photography people thought I was crazy since I had always wanted to be a writer or filmmaker. When I quit my steady job people thought I was crazy because I was losing my income and swapping it for zero monetary consistency. When I said I wanted to be in galleries people thought I was crazy because my pictures seemed too creepy for that. When I wanted to write a book people asked how I was qualified to do so.
If people doubt you, you’re doing something right. You are taking a plunge into something that feeds your passion, and even if nothing financially comes of it, you still took a step to fulfilling your happiness…and that isn’t very crazy at all.
3. People don’t approve of what you do.
Think about this. What, in the whole world, speaks more to the human condition than making someone feel something? To me, sparking emotion in someone when they look at my images is the best feeling in the world. Love it or hate it or feel something in between, at least a reaction was caused by following my passion. The more successful you become, the more controversy you will create. This is true of the kindest, most gentle people in the world and those who aren’t. Stir the pot. Don’t be afraid to cause controversy. If you are always kind and giving, there is no harm in putting your uniqueness into the world.
4. You actively pursue your passion.
What is passion, anyway? It is a loaded word that packs into it what inspires you, what motivates you, and what makes your heart thump. It is your life-force. And without it, we go through the motions of life without questioning why or how. I think one of the biggest signs that you’re doing something right is if you are actively pursuing your passion. Discovering and understanding what makes you most excited about life has the potential to lift up those around you.
5. You INSPIRE others.
You may not know you’re doing it. It may be a feeling that you spread without realizing it. It is inherent in what you do and who you are because you’re pursuing the life you want to live. Inspiring others can be as simple as living by example. And when you build the life of your dreams, you inspire others to do the same. And, eventually, someone is going to tell how you how amazing that is, and you’ll know for sure you’re doing something right. And if no one has ever said it, hear it from me: YOU ARE DOING SOMETHING RIGHT. I am inspired by your willingness to pursue your passion and live your dream life. Whether you have achieved that dream life is another story, but the act of promoting passion in your life and in the lives of others is the ultimate symbol that you’re doing something right.
Are you doing something right?
Be proud of it if you are. Pat yourself on the back. Take pride in the fact that you have the power to live a meaningful life.
Questions to ask:
– Do I focus enough energy on what makes me happy?
– Do I actively set goals to pursue my passion?
– Have you ever felt confused about what the next step should be?
– Do you ever feel that incredible euphoria that comes with being honest about what inspires you?
– How often do you put your uniqueness into the world?
Kimberly - Brooke, this is great! I really needed this. Thank you for being so transparent and willing to share your journey.
Marisa - Thank you. I needed this today. A long belaboring conversation last night had me doubting my path and questioning my choices.
So thank you for pulling me back from that ledge.
André Varela - Very good! The problem is when you don’t know if you inspire people. Of all those points i guess that’s the one you can’t see or sometimes feel. It’s easy to knwo that when you have so many people following your work.
When people don’t approve usually they also thinh you are crazy =)
But yea, if you are “bothering” a group of people maybe you are doing something right. =)
Gerri Bird - Until I started to listen to my heart and my intuition, I was just going through the motions. Now that I do what my heart tells me to do, I’ve had a breakdown, break through, and an epiphony. I am thankful for the doubt and fear, because it helped force me to move through it. Doing what is acceptable, approved of and expected is a quick route to artistic death. A person cannot sustain creativity this way. Thanks for being such a loud, proud example of how beautiful ‘different’ can be.
lovelyn - I’m grateful for doubt and fear too. Moving through it has brought me to a much better place in life and helped me realize that I am much stronger than I previously thought.
Jasmin Bäumer - Brooke, you are the most inspiring person I have ever seen in my whole life. Just listenig to what you say about pursuing your dream and being not only satisfied but so happy about what you do makes me feel so motivitated. Your videos, posts and just everything you have to say is helping me through so much trouble with my photography. Everytime I’m concerned about not doing the right thing or not being good enough to achive what I desire or whatever, there seems to come a post from you to cheer me you and keep me going. The best thing about this is that you actually help me not only to believe in my skills but also to be even happier with my whole life! And, you know, I’ve been a pretty positive person before already! 😀
So what I just want to say is: thank you. Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences and feelings and thoughts with us. You are a great person.
But I also have a question, and yet I don’t really believe you are going to read this, maybe i’m lucky and you actually will.
How do you deal with negative persons? I don’t mean the critics but rather friends, who are constantly complaining about everything. I have this friend who just can’t take a compliment, she puts herself down whenever she can. I want her to be positive about what she’s doing but it’s kind of exhausting to say all of this over and over again when she continues to be negative all the time. It’s like I’m trying to be positive but always fighting against the dark side ;D
How do you deal with something like that? Any idea? I would really appreciate to hear some of your with that if you’d like to share. 🙂
Hope you are having a great rest of the week & best wishes from germany,
brookeshaden - Hi Jasmin! Thank you SO much for all of your kind words. You have brightened my day! Dealing with negative people – I completely understand that. Last year I went through an evaluation of my life and the people in it, and decided that some people just weren’t worth keeping around in any regular way. That doesn’t mean that I’ll never speak to them again, but that I made an effort to detach myself from those people and not let their negativity seep into my life. Unfortunately negativity is something that is often ingrained in people for so long they forget how to be anything else. Sometimes people are worth helping through it, but if the person sees no problem with their life, it is very difficult to help without seeming judgmental.
moodphototeija - Can I just say again, what I think I have said before, that you are mind reader <3 There are again lots of things that I have wondered over weekend, you can make them more sense than me when I just talk to myself 😉
thank you so much, I have had a happy day, even weekend was rough, and had some difficulties with different things, but today I decided few things, that I keep being kind, even people take that as weakness sometimes and tries to take advantage of it. And I will keep pursuing my dreams and do what I do, and not to be so afraid if I do something different than usual, that all the people will not like it. They may even hate it, but that is a feeling too.
MK Savage - Definitely an inspiration and this was exactly the right time for me to hear this message, thank you!
Andrea - Brooke you are awesome. I love this.
natalie - THANK YOU! <3 you know I LOVE you:p <3
Paulo Carvalho - First of all, a big clap for you, Brooke. What a great post. I loved it.
So many times I’ve done that question… And I am totally agreed with you about this 5 signs. This is one of those post that whenever we doubt what we are doing, we must read or hear. And if it happens to me, I will. I’ve been working on a project (is not associated with photography, but it’s the same) to present where I work. And that question and these signs are all there. But I’ll follow through with the project and presents it on Wednesday. I believe in the project and in me… I’m just wondering if I’ve ever told you that you’re awesome. 🙂 Many thanks for this post.
Margherita Introna - Your pose in this is absolutely stunning Brooke! It gives this image an interesting twist and detail <3 I'm really loving all your blues lately. Please can you do purple next 🙂 <3
Success is so many different things to different people… but the moment one figures out what that means to oneself, is where the magic happens <3
Denise - Thanks for topping off my creative energy tank this morning with your video and blog. After yesterday’s Totally Incredible Seminar at the Photo Expo, I was all smiles – you seem to be a Positive Energy Sorcerer! – what fun to meet in person, even at a busy seminar.
Yes, so who would want to do things the ‘right’ way when you can achieve your dreams – and have fun doing so – just by doing it your own way? Your words provide balancing encouragement for times one feels they’re starting to teeter along that personal path.
Today’s image made me gasp this time, then the blues soothed me as I started to walked inside and read its story. Powerful.
Denise Neale Jensen - p.s Thank you for the very kind words in your autograph 🙂
Mary-Claire - I am out of town working and had one day off, today. Planning to go shoot at a location that I likely won’t see again, I thought that there would be few people. Well, there were more than I expected, and I thought about how bizarre they would think I was taking photos of myself with the remote, running around with fabric pinned to me with clamps. Then I decided that perhaps my follies would help them remember that day, so onward I went. Happy day!
Emma - This post is so timely! I’m really fixated on the idea of success at the moment. I’ve got stuck in wedding photography, which I enjoy but I’m not really passionate about. I like to be in control and I want to create certain kinds of images, working with brides is not always conducive to this and so I upped my prices and the enquires have dropped. It was what I wanted to happen but now I’m kind of scared. I wanted to keep the wedding work so that I would have money but also time to pursue my fine art. ButI’m spending so much time thinking about what other people think about me and the fact that I’m not doing as many weddings, that I’m not actually doing the things that I set out to do. I hope I can find a way soon to work out what success means to me!
Rocio Mirelis - WOW, that first paragraph resonates with me like you have no idea. I have just started a new business venture with the [fa] group. And I have no idea if what I’m doing is right! It’s so hard to know and like you did, I feel like an amateur.
WOW, reading y our list of 1-5 is amazing. I think I can relate to every single one of those points. Today, I feel happy because I received this comment from one of the group members:
“Because of you I found a part of myself that I love? I think it quite good, right? And its true! ” :Rocío I think many in our group would say that about you ”
I truly never thought I would be an inspiration.
Rocio Mirelis - By the way, as you probably already know, I love listening to you talk! You are my endless inspiration.
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