Last year I was doing a coaching session with a photographer, and she asked me a question that threw me for a loop and really made me dig below the surface, and just recently it’s come up quite a few times…so I wanted to craft today’s blog post around this specific topic, because of ALL the things that I could potentially talk about today, I think that “the secret to success” is hands-down the most important thing for me to share with you right now…
Let me set the scene: During this coaching session last year that I’m referencing, I was sitting there spilling EVERYTHING about the behind the scenes of our business at the time. I was holding absolutely nothing back. Rationally, there was nothing else to share with her. I had walked her through the marketing plan, the exact wording I used to get the sale, the technical stuff, the financials, the emails I would send to my clients, my lighting setups, workflows, pricing, etc etc etc….all in extreme detail over a period of months. I was giving her ALL of the tools she needed to do exactly what I was doing.
But then she asked a question that stopped me in my tracks, when she said:
“Oh, c’mon Anna, what is the ‘magic thing’ that you’re doing or saying that I’m not? I know we found quite a few things that I need to change, but I feel like there’s got to be more to being successful. I’m struggling to book clients who value me and my work, and you’re flourishing, and there’s just got to be something different that you’re doing that the rest of us don’t know about. What is it? Just tell me your big secret to success!”
As those words left her mouth, I knew EXACTLY where she was coming from. Because I’ve felt the same way, too many times to count. I’ve looked at others so many times and wondered how “they” were doing what they were doing….I’ve wondered what secret “they” were privy to that I didn’t know about. Doesn’t it always seem like there are people who just seem to be good at everything they try, who don’t seem to struggle the way that you do?
So, anyway – getting that question during the coaching session a year ago ignited something in me. I started to get really curious about what it takes to be successful, and as a result I’ve spent a lot of time researching and soul searching and thinking about why some people/businesses really “make it” when others continue to struggle. Is there a secret to success? Why and how did we “make it” these past 10 years when others were trying to do the same things and were failing? Why and how did I grow my new business quickly? And why have many others been able to do it way bigger and faster than we have? Do they just work way harder, or is there something they know that the rest of us don’t?
I’ve done a TON of research into this topic….I’m talking 100s and 100s of hours over this past year, and I’ve done a ton of reflecting about this on a personal level from my own experiences.
I’m just going to cut to the chase:
And just as a warning – I already know you’re going to dislike this answer. I know it might make you roll your eyes. I know it sounds WAY too simple, and you are going to feel like you need more specifics. And I’m sorry about that in advance. But this – this is IT.
First of all, because I know I’ll get some haters if I don’t give this disclaimer: I would like to state for the record that you obviously you need to take physical action and work hard to be successful (I think we all know that).
But ultimately, I believe that the magic “thing” needed for success in any business or endeavor that many people are missing is simply the BELIEF (in yourself) that you can do it. Crazy, unshakeable, nearly irrational, faith that you can do whatever you set your mind to.
When you have unshakeable belief that you can accomplish your goal you can:
-Be terrified to do something and do it anyway
-Fail a million times along the way and still keep going
-Be told by your family/friends that you’ll never make it, and do it anyway
-Push yourself outside of your comfort zone, even when it feels really hard
-Not be affected by negativity
-Show up every single day, motivated to do whatever it takes
-Accomplish anything that you set your mind to. ANYTHING.
I mean, think about it… All of the tools, and processes, and email templates, and instructions, and how-to’s (to do literally ANYTHING) – they’re out there. They’re on youtube, they’re on google, they’re at workshops, they’re in FB lives, they’re on blogs, they’re in online courses, they’re in podcasts, they’re in e-books….it’s not like the old days when you needed to go out in person and find a mentor to train you and teach your their ways. We’ve entered a day and age where there are very few “secret” techniques or processes, regardless of what industry you’re in….and it’s pretty much all out there for free online. These days, it just takes a quick search on youtube to pull up a step by step tutorial on any topic.
And the more I’ve thought about this, and the more books I’ve read and (yep!) YouTube videos I’ve watched about all of this, the more I’ve realized: From the day I found out I could go to flight school, I had zero doubt that I would be able to fly a helicopter successfully. From the day we sold one of our cars to buy our equipment and start our photography business almost 10 years ago, I never for one single second doubted that we would be able to be $10,000 wedding photographers. I looked at other people who were where we wanted to be, and I thought to myself “if they can do it, why not me?” The same was true, again, when I started my new business last year. While the making the leap was uncomfortable and is still sometimes scary, there was no doubt in my mind that I would be able to be successful in this new venture. I could imagine myself having the freedom that I wanted. I could see it. I could taste it. And while I still have a long ways to go before I reach my goals, I’m doing it. I’m helping other people do it. And, over this past year, I’ve come to the realization that I’ve felt this way about everything I’ve ever succeeded in. And the things I haven’t succeeded in? In those things I was FILLED with doubt or uncertainty, or the fear of what others would think.
And sure, doubt sometimes bubbles up, and I feel scared almost every single day to put myself out there, and I worry what other people will think, and I screw things up, and I have setbacks – but they don’t change my core belief that I’m going to make “it” happen – despite all of those things. Even writing this blog post, I’ve had thoughts like “why am I writing about this when I’m no expert?,” and “no one is even going to read this anyways,” and “people are going to think this is too ‘out there’ or weird.” But you know what? Despite those insecurities, I’m going to hit publish on this dang thing anyway – because I know that it’s pushing me towards my goals – and I believe that I can achieve them.
When you KNOW without a doubt that something is going to happen, when you can see it, taste it, and visualize it….and then you start taking action towards your goal – it WILL come true. It just will. Because nothing will stop you.
So. If you feel like you are having trouble finding the success that you want in life or business – I would encourage you to dig deep and ask yourself: “Do I really believe, deep down, that I can achieve [whatever your goal is]? Do I have crazy, unshakable, nearly irrational faith that I can and will do this? Really? Or I am allowing doubt and insecurities to take over?”
And you know what? If you’re struggling to succeed because you’re lacking unadulterated belief in yourself, join the club! Everybody struggles with being confident. Everybody struggles with making the real, unfiltered decision to go after their big scary goals. It feels exposing.
And I don’t know …. Maybe you’ve never had anyone really believe in you before. Maybe you’ve been told that you’ll never amount to anything. Maybe a teacher told you in 2nd grade that you aren’t smart enough, and you believed them and have held onto it for all these years. Maybe you feel like you don’t deserve the success you desire. Maybe you look at the other people who are out there smashing their goals and you simply don’t think you’re good enough, or smart enough, or cool enough, or pretty enough, to do the same. Maybe you’ve tried lots of things and they didn’t pan out and you feel like a failure. I don’t know what internal story you’re telling yourself, or why.
But what I do know – is that your script can be re-written.
It doesn’t matter how old you are, or young you are.
It doesn’t matter what sort of education you have.
I do know that you can do ANYTHING you set your mind to.
But I also know that, in order to make it happen, no one will be believe in you as much as you need to believe in yourself.
If you’re struggling with believing in yourself and going for what you want, feel free to reach out to me in an email or on social media, because you are not alone – and I want to lift you up.
Next week I’m going to talk more about how to move from a place of doubt to a place a belief, right here on the blog. In the meantime, start opening yourself up to the possibility that you deserve more, and that you can achieve [insert your dream here]. <3