Motherhood, Business, & Failure
why the fear of failure isn't actually about failing
This past week has been a big one for us - we celebrated my daughter’s 7th birthday, and the fragile, complicated relationship I have with my parents took a significant turn for the worst.
In the past I’ve blogged a lot about failure, and motherhood, when it comes to my photography journey, and it feels weird not talking about that stuff here, too. I know you’re here to learn about business, but I can’t separate what I do from who I am. And I’ve always been vulnerable, though careful, about talking about the deeper things in my life that have shaped my photographs, including my mother’s abusive behavior, and how important it is that I break that cycle with my own children. And while it’s even harder to talk about here, those same things shape who I am when it comes to my business, as well.
Simply put, much of my journey as a mother has been about redemption. I can’t change my childhood experiences, and looking back at them cause me a lot of pain. But I can break that cycle of abuse, and I can find a sense of redemption through my experience of mothering my girls: of become the mother I always wish I had, and giving that gift to them.
The thing is, when you build something up in your head - a wish or dream - the reality is often quite different. And while I deeply wish I had a certain kind of mother, trying to become that kind of mother for my daughters has had its ups and downs. And of course, I tend to focus more on my shortcomings rather than all the things I do right. I can’t change my core personality, and I’m always going to be someone who worries about failure. But I’ve found that embracing it, and writing about those failures through the lens of photography has been incredibly enlightening. Every time I sit down to write a post to work through some sort of inner failure, I always end up connecting with someone on the other end who reads it.
And it occured to me, late last night, as I was struggling to sleep under the hurt my parents are causing us, including my children, that failure and the things that come with it aren’t solely exclusive to the realm of the artistic side of what we do.
In fact, I work through more “failure”, in terms of my business, than anywhere else because it is more clear cut. A photograph can be interpreted, and even when I feel like I’m failing, like I’m not doing enough or growing enough, someone else could interpret that same photograph completely differently.
But a business? It’s a lot more black and white. Profits vs expenses, inquiries vs bookings, ideal clients vs clients that never seem to even materialize. The sense of failure (or success) is less open to interpretation.
And so I wanted to bring these thoughts to you today. And talk about that fear of failure out in the open. Because more often than not, it isn’t the actual “failure” we are afraid of - it rarely actually materializes, and on the rare occasion when it does, it almost always teaches us something invaluable. But it’s that fear of failure that holds us stuck. It’s what keeps us from actually applying to the thing, actually asking for the sale, or actually listing the pricing we want to achieve.
That fear will kill your business before it’s even had a chance to get off the ground. So while I want you to know you aren’t alone in having those fears, you also aren’t alone in needing to be bolder.
No one else will fight for your business except you. Regardless of if it’s a brand new business that you only just started, or if you’ve been working on it for years - you are the only advocate it has. You have to protect it, advocate for it, and believe in it. And by extension, you have to believe in yourself.
It’s not easy. But if it’s something you want, jump all in. Don’t be afraid to be bold, and to put yourself out there. Because if you never try, you absolutely will never see success. I am 100% cheering you on from over here, and I promise I will do all I can do share my knowledge and encourage you every step of the way.