Above: Image by Gina Milicia
What would you do if I gave you the choice of:
- A. A brand new mid-range DSLR or Mirrorless camera + lens of choice, yours for free today
- B. Wait two years and receive two brand new DSLR or Mirrorless cameras + lenses
I’ll give you a couple of minutes to decide….. *cue game show think music*
If you chose A. Congratulations you are the proud imaginary owner of a brand new DSLR. Enjoy!
If you chose B. Congratulations x 1000 because according to research your ability to delay gratification or put off a smaller win today (one camera) to have a greater windfall in two years (two cameras) is one of the most essential character traits of a successful person.
The problem with delayed gratification is, well, it’s delayed. Why wait when you can have instant gratification? We live in a world where everything is about instant gratification. The interwebs are filled with blogs about overnight success stories ranging from the superficial:
“How to lose 10 pounds in three days by eating potatoes” (it doesn’t work, don’t judge me) to “How this YouTube/instafamous/Facebook earned a million bucks a month” or “How to be a world-class photographer in three weeks.”
The truth is, there are no shortcuts to success, and anybody who tells you otherwise is full of ‘caca’. You can definitely learn a new skill quickly, I’ve seen this in my students who go from taking snaps in manual mode to creating beautifully lit and edited images in months, but technique alone won’t make you successful.
“Trust the process. Your time is coming. Just do the work, and the results will handle themselves.” ― Tony Gaskins
When you are learning new skills, you are like a freshly planted seedling. You can force-feed the seedling by adding fertilizer and grow lights. From the outside, the seedling grows rapidly and is the envy of all the other seedlings. The problem with rapid growth is the seedling doesn’t have the opportunity to lay down strong roots and will be blown over by the first gust of wind.
I can totally relate to being the puny seedling envying all the other seedlings because I’m a slow learner. It takes me a long time to grasp a new concept and master new skills. I’ve always been like this. When I first started studying photography, I remember feeling like I was the only one in the class who had no clue what our teacher was banging on about.
It wasn’t until years later that I realised that I did not have a learning problem. It was a teaching issue. I just needed to find the right person who taught in a manner and language that I understood.
Finding the right mentors and getting comfortable with taking the slow road was a game changer for me. I realised that there is no right or wrong amount of time to learn how to do something but taking my time and trusting in the process has meant that I have been able to develop a deeper understanding of “why” rather than a superficial “how.”
You can fast-track your learning by skipping the “why” and focusing on the “how” and create images that look good, but if you don’t invest the time to develop your skills, make mistakes, learn resilience, then you too may be blown over by the first gust of wind or setback.
Whenever I get sidetracked or overwhelmed by the feeling that I should be doing more or further up the road to success, I’m reminded of a quote one of my beautiful mentors once told me:
“Nature never rushes, yet everything gets done.” ― Donald L. Hicks