Yes Is For Wimps. Get Used To Hearing “NO”.

If you’re already a professional photographer or filmmaker, then you know that you had to hear a lot of “no” for every “yes”. If you’re not yet a pro, or perhaps more importantly if you are a pro whose enjoyed a taste of success, then hear this: Get Used To Hearing “No”.

But this isn’t a bad thing. “No” serves several functions.

1. Let “no” serve as a motivator. If you don’t win a gig from an agency or a magazine, if you lose it to another photographer, vow to win the next one. Make a plan for how to do it different, better than you did last time. Make new photos, prepare, hone your vision, whatever it takes.

2. Let “no” keep out the other people who don’t want it as bad as you do. Remember, when you’re hearing “no”, so is almost everyone else. When other artists hear “no” too much, they quit, defeated, never to return again. Don’t let that be you. When you hear “no”, let it remind you of this little post.

3. Let “no” remind you that this job isn’t for everyone, especially the uncommitted. In a round about way, every “no” should remind you that you’re in the right place, not the wrong place. If it was easy, everybody would be doing it.

4. Let “no” turn you into a better artist. A bunch of “no” usually doesn’t mean that you’re not talking to the right people. It usually means your work is not “there” yet. If that’s the case, see #1.

5. Mario Andretti once famously said, “If everything feels under control, you’re just not driving fast enough”. Same goes here. If you’re… …not hearing “no”, you’re not really getting your work out there enough, pushing what’s possible, pushing yourself.

Now here’s the kicker. It should be plainly obvious that, after a substantial amount of time cultivating the above vision, you will likely start to hear a hell of a lot of “yes”. That’s nice. Nice for the bank account. Nice for the ego. Nice for your portfolio or whatever. But when that happens, don’t get cocky. Don’t only seek yes, don’t depend on it, because it makes you and your work soft. Not in a cuddly way. In a way that you’ll get apathetic.

Of course it’s a balance, but mark my words: when you start to hear a lot of “yes”, consider doing what it takes to hear a bit more “no”. I’m betting that you’ll thank me – or more importantly, thank yourself.

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