As many of my close friends can tell you, I take a very strong stance that there are few things more powerful than confidence and I make it my mission to remind everyone I meet that above all else, if you want to achieve anything, “confidence is key.” You want to be more professional in what you do? Confidence. You want to convince a wavering client that you know EXACTLY what you’re doing? Confidence. You want to work at a dream job or get into a dream school? Confidence. If you do EVERYTHING else right (resumés, cover letters, practicing your craft, setting up your marketing) but you lack confidence in who you are, then that’s pretty much the end of your road.
Today I’d like to talk about the secret behind my confidence. Why am I able to step into the field of photography where there are already SO MANY photographers and BELIEVE that I have a shot at having a needed voice? Why do I have a dream to become a Physician’s Assistant when getting into schools is SO competitive? My confidence is founded in one concept and it comes in the form of a question.
Now. Stop… Take a second a breathe…
Stop again. You didn’t breathe. Slowly. Multiple times. Take a moment from the craziness of your ridiculously busy life and breathe in deep for a minute. Into your lungs. Let the oxygen flow into the alveoli in your lungs, giving your brain the fuel needed to read what is coming up next.
I’m about to ask you a question that really matters. More than checking your Facebook and Snapchat. But before you read any more, there are a few rules that come with this question. First, don’t allow yourself to give a quick answer. This could possibly be the most important question you answer to start off the new year. Whether you’re a business owner or stay-at-home parent or a designer or a firefighter, this matters greatly. Second, be honest. Fight the impulse to sell yourself short. You’ll know what I mean in a minute. Ready?
The question is as follows: Who are you?
STOP. I’m not asking for your name. MY name is Daniel Jackson. Yeah… that’s my name and it REPRESENTS who I am, but it isn’t me. It’s just a title. And you are not defined by your name either! Sure! The people down the road connect your name to stories about you that you’ll never escape, but if you move to a different state, everyone but the government gives you a clean slate! So who are you?! Once again, refrain from listing your job titles. “My name is Daniel Jackson, and I am a photographer and artist. A guy who loves playing soccer. Uh… I like to drink eggnog?” That’s what most people sound like when I ask them this question. They define themselves by what they do. “I’m an engineer.” “I’m a nursing student.” “I’m a teenager with no responsibility.” My response: No you’re not! That’s what you do! BUT WHO ARE YOU!?” At the end of the day, why do you do what you do? This question is SO important for the simple reason that if you are defined by what you do, when what you do can no longer be done, then by definition, YOU NO LONGER EXIST!
So who are you? What is your life founded on? What is your purpose on this Earth that can’t be taken away by sudden financial downturns or physical injuries. Do you even have something like this?
For me, Jesus Christ is my anchor. Yes, I know that not everyone who reads these words will believe as I do. For many, I all of a sudden just went from an inspirational speaker to an idiot. However, that’s honestly okay with me. Because as I said before, my confidence is founded not in the success of my business or the amount of prestige I gain from the applause of others or even from my own ability to convince myself that I’m worth something. I am confident in the fact that 2,000 years ago Jesus Christ came down to earth and died to rescue me from myself. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, please ask me, as I would be glad to answer any questions you have on this. But I am alive because God deems it good, and that is enough reason for me to be confident in anything! Am I the best photographer I know? NO! Of course not! If I was, there would be no room to learn and I’d have nothing to aspire to. Am I pretty good? SURE! But my confidence in my photography isn’t even based on how good of a photographer I think I am.
I am CONFIDENT that I can do WAY more than I can currently imagine if I put my mind and body to work. How am I so confident in stepping behind a camera to photograph someone’s wedding, an event that will only happen once? An event, where failure as a photographer is simply not an option? I am confident because I know that at the end of the day everything will be okay and that if I can keep myself from stressing, my pictures will look better anyway. With that knowledge I have the power and unwavering strength to simply have fun. And let me tell you, I’ve met photographers who are SO NERVOUS at weddings that they literally can’t eat. That’s miserable! Weddings have the best foods and photographers’ stomachs are so in knots that they can’t stop for a moment to simply enjoy a buffet that is part of their wages!? I want to enjoy what I do! And I do enjoy it all!
So once again, who are you? What is your foundation in life that you stand on? NOW, based on this thing, have confidence in yourself! If you want to be a chef, start cooking and practice so much that you are literally tired of the word “noodle!” You want to be a doctor? Get into class and study your butt off! Want to be a photographer? Learn every inch of your camera, from manual mode to using Kelvin to shooting with an off-camera-flash behind the subject. No matter what you DO, begin by DECIDING to be being confident! And to be confident, you must first and foremost start by being grounded in WHO YOU ARE! Know yourself and why you stand, and you will be unshakable.
So, in conclusion, to me confidence is key, because only in confidence can I truly be free. You want to change this world for the better? It starts with knowing where you are grounded. I’m grounded in Jesus Christ.
Who are YOU?