Success isn’t found, it’s Built

The different ways we view success in America makes me laugh. The viewpoint we are shown is usually through the eyes the media or some other platform wishes to show us and it always makes it look so glamorous. Apparently people just wake up and are successful according to what we are shown. All of the sudden they are engulfed in resources, decision makers and the spotlight. Success must just smile upon whomever it wishes right? Nothing could be further from the truth. However I do believe you can wake up one day and will yourself into being successful. I am going to provide some insight as to what I believe success is and then give you a few thoughts on how to set yourself up to be more successful not only in your eyes but in the eyes of others. Many times during my years as a website designer and wedding photographer I have had to readjust my thinking. It is an ongoing process.

Success is measured in so many different ways. What you consider as achieving success may be something completely different to me. Success to you may be having a certain amount of money in the bank, owning a certain size home, a nice car, providing for your family, and the list can go on. Of course that view of success could be considered very ambitious by some or modest by others. Though there is a definition for the word success, there is no concise definition for success as a concept.

A picture of success is painted for us during our school years and growing up. We are told what reaching successfulness is in school and most of us have had a friend or two in our lives who came from a much more successful family then ours. In school we are shown that a student that achieves good grades, prepares for college, attends college and graduates is a successful person. However I know graduates with their masters who are not happy with the level of success they thought they would be achieving shortly after graduating. I have found that following the suggested path of success others provide is not always a recipe for achieving it. It has to be more intentional then that.

I opted not to continue with my education through the standard channels our society suggests. I struggled with Jr. College for a few years and threw in the towel. I like to get to the point. I want to know what I need to know to get the task done. In the age that we are living in, all data is available online. The careers that require a degree these days are thinning. In most forms of technology, schools can not keep up so in my opinion it almost defeats the purpose. School can lay a good ground work and show the rest of the world you were disciplined but it can also become a crutch that prevents you from achieving success if you assume that an education is going to provide you success.

I have came to realize that when I wake up in the morning it is me and me alone that sets the stage for how my life is going to go for the rest of that day. My perception of myself, my circumstances and the world around me determines my level of productivity for the day. When I get a bad night sleep or dwell to long on something negative it can effect everything around me. It effects my work, my attitude, my family and me physically.

Here are some things that I do to maintain success and productivity in my life:

1. Turn off the noise!
Noise can be anything that is distracting you. Noise in this case is a noun; a person, place or thing that is distracting you from getting to where you want to be.

  • Person: Turn off people who have a crab mentality. The term “crab mentality” is used to describe a kind of selfish, short-sighted thinking which runs along the lines of “if I can’t have it, neither can you.” As a general rule, an accusation of having a crab mentality is a poor reflection on someone’s personality. This concept references an interesting phenomenon which occurs in buckets of crabs. If one crab attempts to escape from a bucket of live crabs, the other crabs will pull it back down, rather than allowing it to get free. Sometimes, the crabs seem almost malicious, waiting until the crab has almost escaped before yanking it back into the pot. All of the crabs are undoubtedly aware of the fact that their fate is probably not going to be very pleasurable, so people are led to wonder why they pull each other back into the bucket, instead of congratulating the clever escape artist. It is quite often that we will find people in our lives that will stifle our growth and ability to succeed. If you find yourself with people like this in your life, they will do nothing but try to make it hard for you unless you put some space between you and them. If I listened to the people who were placed in my life as a child that were there to mold me into an educated adult I would have completely set myself up to fail, just as I was told I would.
  • Place: Get away from places and locations that have overwhelming memories of negativity. Sometimes just being in a certain place can stifle your productivity and make you feel like you are part of something negative. This mentality will ruin your ability to see yourself as someone of worth. When you associate yourself with negative surroundings it is impossible to view yourself as successful in the midst of something that brings such negativity to your mind. I am not saying that you need to move to get out of such a place, but you do need to find a way that you can view yourself as a successful person rather then a failure. People often move thinking that they can start new and their problems follow them. With the internet being so socially connected it is even harder these days for a location change to put much distance between you and past decisions. Sometimes places are people go hand in hand. It is most likely that the places that bother you are associated with people. Below I will discuss living visibly which will help shine more light on making the most out of your location.
  • Thing: Things are most often bad habits and addictions but can easily be related to people and places. The things in our life that are stifling our growth to success are often related to another person. If you can put distance between the person related usually the thing will diminish.

2. Constantly Seek Empowerment
If you just sat around and listened to the world’s buzz for an entire day you would be the exact oposite of empowered. A great thing about the age we live in is that there is a lot of resources available to us. In my life I surround myself with positive content from podcasts, audiobooks and most importantly my church. I read a recap of the news to keep up with what is going on around me but I do not get attached to it. I read it through an RSS reader and do not include images. I want to be informed enough about our society to be able to hold a conversation but not so informed that I allow it to drag me down. Besides listening to great audiobooks and audio podcasts I also enjoy music. Music lifts me up and clears my mind. When I am at the gym I turn it up loud in my ears which keeps everything else out. When I am driving in the car or find myself in the middle of some downtime with nothing to do I put on an audiobook or podcast. There are so many great people who have positive attitudes and a lot to say in this world. Many of these people have overcame negativity or some sort of stronghold to reach success. There is absolutely nothing wrong with listening to what they have to say. Of course I don’t think that we should take everything that every “talking head” out there has to say to heart but you can take it in, think about it, and disregard anything that you do not think is of use to you personally. You can even take it one step further and keep those bits of information in your mind registries as something you could use to help out someone else should you see them in a situation that seems more fitting.

Some podcasts I frequent include: Freelance Radio, The Official BNI Podcast, The Public Speakers Quick and Dirty Tips Podcast, Mars Hill Sermon Church Audio Podcast, You Look Nice Today – A Journal of Emotional Hygiene and many more.

3. Live Visibly/Transparently
When your life as an adult does not start out the way you wanted it to you can correct it. I have had multiple failures that I often wish I had seen coming but at the same time understand that my mistakes have made me who I am. When things come up about your past, don’t be afraid to address them. There is no reason to hide anything because it will come out. What is great about the web these days is that you can share your life online on a much larger stage then you could with out it. Using Facebook, Twitter and the other social networks allows people to watch your life as it happens. They get to know you and see what you are really all about. When and if they find out something from your past it will not weight as heavily as it would have if that was the first bit of information they had collected about you. So regardless of your past whether it be that you were a burnout in high school or partied away your college years, you can get past that perception that some may have and build the life you have always wanted to have resulting in the respect you have desired to obtain.

4. Give Back
I say give back but what I really mean is just give. Be a giver, and never think twice about why you are helping someone. I give a lot of advice to people looking to get into the photography and website design fields. People wonder why I do it, especially when they are in the same geographic location as me. I believe completely that people do business with people they like. Some people like me and the way I do things, others do not. There are other photographers and website designers out there that may be a better match for a client than I am. I also refer more wedding photography away to other photographers than I keep for myself. Sometimes because I am already booked but many times because I know that what the Bride is looking for is something another photographer could provide better than I could. I have my style and enjoy working with people who have similar styles to mine. I feel I am offering much more to the Bride by making sure that she gets exactly what she wants.

Don’t be afraid to share information. Trust me, it comes back to you 10 fold when you give something away with no interest in getting something back from it. When you share something with someone else, send them business or give them a jump start, you may not see a reward from that particular individual, but you will get love in return. It always happens this way and it is the number one reason why I am still in business today.

5. Be a lover!
The sourpuss never gets ahead. They are always complaining about how they felt it was their turn to be successful. They always look jealously at others and scoff at their success. This should not be how you handle things. When somebody you know has something notable happen in their life, celebrate it with them. Congratulate them and appreciate their hard work. It is hard to pay attention to what everybody has going on but many people share their milestones on their Facebook and Twitter. Be on the lookout for those moments and send some love their way. When I fellow photographer posts about how they just booked a new wedding, it’s time to post a celebratory post on their Facebook wall. When a website designer contact I have on Twitter talks about how they just got this new huge client, it’s time to celebrate that with them, rather then lean back in your chair and think about how much you deserved that over them.

Life is to short to be a hater. Yes I know that the term is overused and pretty cliche but it’s true. Haters will never prosper. Be a love giver instead in the purest of senses from your heart of hearts.

Suggested Reads: Love Is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends, The Go-Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea, 17 Lies That Are Holding You Back and the Truth That Will Set You Free, Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust and many more. If you like these books and want more suggestions from me, please email me.

1 Comment

  • shauna mandella
    August 9, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    Wow Jerad, I’m glad to have read this blog! Yes, I read the whole thing lol. I just wanted to say thank you! It takes a lot of work and dedication to do all that you do. I’ve recently gotten into photography myself and it’s nice to see there are other people out there that share the same views as me..I love giving and sharing in other people’s special moments. It makes them feel better and in turn you feel awesome. I’ve actually been friends with you on myspace for quite awhile and more recently facebook. I would just like to congratulate you on your life and all you have achieved and let you know I think you’re awesome. Also, your son is soo adorable. One of my friends used to work with your wife too i guess. 🙂 Anyways, I don’t want to go on and on but Ihope i speak for other new photographers when I say it’s an honor to be able to learn from you and it would be awesome to work with you. Have a great day! ~ Shauna Mandella

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