This is part 1 of a 2 part series on Mastering the Art of Photography
One can learn photography fairly easily, just like one can learn how to play baseball but being on a state championship team is altogether different. There is a great movie, The Final Season (see trailer below), a true story about a small school of 100 students that won 19 Iowa State Championships. Talk about beating the odds! If a school can win 19 titles, then we know it is not just by luck or by chance. How did they beat the odds?
Any road to a high level of success is like understanding and learning a secret formula only FEW know and understand. If success was easy, everyone would be successful but this is not reality. The road to success starts from understanding we need to be significantly better than most, let’s start by aiming to be the the top 5% which means, we need to be at least better than 95 out of 100 professional photographers or else we really don’t have a shot at earning a decent living with photography or creating some amazing opportunities for ourselves.
As I watched this movie it dawned on me that this highly successful baseball program did something special- they mentored their players, they passed down a legacy of success from one generation to the next. They gave them the hidden keys to victory, a sense of fulfillment and significance. Isn’t that what all of us crave in a career, a sense of significance? I often preach that the road to significance is candy coated with excellence. To be a world class photographer usually means being mentored and that is what I find increases the odds of success greatly. If our chances of succeeding are 1 in about 1,000 of all photographers, being mentored by an extremely successful and great teacher probably gives us a 1 in 10 chance of making it. Yes, the odds are still against us but greatly reduced in our favor with a mentor.
If success starts with finding a Mentor, what qualities/qualifications do you look for?
1. Do you respect their work? If you do not appreciate or admire their body of work, then that mentor is not for you.
2. Is the mentor highly successful? The mentor should be highly successful or has achieved a very high level of success at what you want to learn.
3. Can they earn a nice living with their skills?
4. Does this mentor have a successful track record, have any of his/her mentees become successful?
5. Do you like this person?
If the answer is YES to all these questions, you probably have found the right mentor. Of course all mentors are stronger in some areas more than others but these questions will help the filtering process.
The next question is, how do you develop a relationship with a mentor?
1. The first step is to buy into whatever this mentor is selling/offering and infuse yourself with their products, services, workshops or whatever that mentor offers and soak it up. Get the mentor’s way of thinking into your soul. Doing this shows that you have bought into the mentor’s philosophies, concepts, in essence who they are! This is a huge compliment to a mentor and will be GREATLY appreciate and in return the mentor will give preference to those who have bought into their programmed way of thought. Every mentor desires to teach those who understand and appreciate their art from a gut level. A mentor passes down his heart and soul and just doesn’t do this for everyone, only to those he can identify and connect with and those he thinks has a serious shot at making it. This is a very IMPORTANT STEP because it leads into the second step…
2. Give value FIRST to those who can give value to you. This is a simple life principle I do not see enough people practicing. This concept has opened the door to many wonderful experiences in my life and is a cornerstone on how I go about networking and opening opportunities for myself. Give first, get second. When we purchase products and services from a mentor, it gives VALUE to that mentor, it helps them pay their bills, supports their family, etc. They recognize these acts and will pay SPECIAL ATTENTION to those who give them the most value. When we buy their products and services, this is one way to connect with a mentor but we can do something even more powerful by adding value to a mentor in another significant way…
Promote the mentor’s business- post it on your blog, review their workshops, recruit friends to purchase their products and services, etc. CREATE RAVE FOR YOUR MENTOR AND THEY WILL LOVE YOU! If the mentor knows you are significantly helping him and promoting him, this mentor will give special favor to you because you have made him money, you have GIVEN HIM VALUE in a very tangible way!
Remember, simply asking a mentor to assist him on a job for no charge really means nothing to most successful mentors. In fact if a mentor is good, most people are willing to PAY to assist him. There are people lined up around the corner wiling to assist for free. Go above and beyond this type of sacrifice for your potential mentor.
My suggestion is to help promote and increase a mentors business in a professional manner- that is how one will have the highest chance of connecting with someone who is successful.
Another key element is making sure we are like-able and presentable. People with great personalities and those who package or brand themselves with class and style have the highest chance of being offered more opportunities. For example, who gets asked out more on a date, the pretty girl or the “nice personality” girl? When you approach a mentor, he is going to select you because YOU REPRESENT HIM! You will be a living example of who he is because he will be passing down to you his heart and soul, ideas and concepts that he has spent a decade or more learning and discovering. It is always in our best interest to look our best and be a positive energy giver! Get your mojo on!
Achieving high levels of success can many times take decades to achieve, this was certainly my story (www.scottrobertstory.com) but having a mentor can significantly cut down the time it will take to become a world class photographer, as much as half the time or more! That is why I believe ANY amount of money spent on the services of a good mentor will be worth the investment. Especially if they are giving away the hidden keys to success that can’t be found anywhere else!
I leave you with this thought…
“A mentor provides a path when we see no road, restores our hope the days we have none and is our ice tea on a hot summer day.” -Scott Robert Lim
Watch the movie trailer “The Final Season”