Keep your eyes on your own work

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Going to borrow from someone that inspired me today. I listen to the Fro Knows Photo RAWtalk podcast pretty regularly. In fact, it's one of two podcasts that I anticipate every week. (the other is the Under the Influence with Terry O'Reilly). Photographer Jared Polin hosts it and it does cover mostly subjects related to photography, but he also talks about things that non-photographers can relate to.

Every once in a while he goes off on a tangent (very often actually) about something in the world of business, freelancers or just philosophies of life. He can get pretty passionate and fired up with some of these tangents.

Today I was listening to the latest episode, which was the first of the new year, and he touched on something that perked my ears up. I'm paraphrasing but the gist of it was:

Don't worry about what others are doing; only be concerned with what you could be doing better.

The exact context is fuzzy, but when I heard him say this I asked myself: "How often do I see another person's work and get demotivated because I think it's better than what I can do?"

Do you ever ask yourself that? It probably happens more than you think. To be fair, there are times when I see another filmmaker's work and actually get inspired from it. Looking at it as a goal, I tell myself that I want to dedicate the next three months to learning how to do THAT. But honestly there are many times when it has a negative effect and I get deflated.

How come my work isn't as good as theirs? When will I ever be able to create that effect or shoot that well?

Every once in a while it helps to have someone like Jared remind you that if you want to succeed, stop comparing yourself so much to others. Or even comparing yourself to the person you thought you were going to be. Instead of worrying about what others are doing around you, think about what you are doing right now and what you COULD be doing to drive yourself forward.

Everything is temporary; we are all advancing our skills as much as we motivate ourselves to. Have your goals, see what kind of projects you'd like to be producing and then focus on what steps you need to take to get yourself there.

And high-five others on your way. Being happy for other people's successes can be incredibly rewarding and allows you to see the possibilities for yourself.

I'm proud of my work and the projects I'm a part of. However I am always looking forward. Even as a kid I would think this way, "Okay, I've taken this step. Now where's that next step?"

Nothing new. You've likely heard all of this already at one point or another. But it bears repeating. Now pass it on.