Look Beyond Photography: Episode 20 “You Screwed Up…Now What?”

If you were to tell me that you’ve never screwed up in your photography or business, I’d say that you’re either a liar or you’re not telling the truth!  (Because that’s the only option there is.)

The fact is, we all make mistakes from time to time.  It’s part of the “human condition”.  If you’re reading this, and you’re human, the time will come that you screw up.  Fact.  It’s not a question of “if” you’ll screw up, but simply “when” you’ll screw up.  …and as much as we try to avoid it, sometimes mistakes simply happen.  Sometimes it’s because we don’t have enough information to make an informed decision on something and we choose incorrectly.  Other times it’s because we’ve gotten lazy, complacent, or stubborn and we end up making accidental errors.  Many times it could just be that we’re too tired and haven’t had proper rest to think clearly.  Further still, some mistakes happen in spite of our best planning, preparation and effort!

Contemplation - Joshua Hanna Photography

Contemplation – Joshua Hanna Photography

Since I’m speaking to mostly humans, I’ve also found that our kind also tends to repeat the same mistakes time and time again!  This is the frustrating part for a lot of us!  When you start to realize a pattern of errors, missteps and pitfalls, it’s very easy to get discouraged and want to give up.  More often than I can count I’ve had the attitude of “why do I even bother?”  I would go as far as to say that if you haven’t felt this same way at times, then you haven’t be at this very long…and by “this“, I mean “life“.  Because unfortunately, mistakes aren’t just limited to our photography business.  They also affect our personal life, family life, and spiritual life!

In a way, I’ve found myself thankful for mistakes lately.  Not proud of them, mind you…but thankful.  I’m thankful that God holds no record of my wrong doing when I ask Him to forgive me and that He gives me plenty of “do-overs” to try and live right by Him.  I’m thankful that my family loves me so much that when I screw up they’re able to see past my flaws and love me anyways.  I’m thankful that just because I make a mistake in my photography business, it doesn’t mean that I’ve failed or that it’s time to give up.  …and I’m thankful that with every mistake I learn a little more about myself, a little more about the process, and a little more about life.

See, I’ve been trying to look at things with a more positive outlook.  That’s what the whole point of this entire blog experience has been about.  I tend to be negative and critical, so it was a bit of a shock when I felt that God wanted me to try and encourage others.  (Because it’s very hard to encourage others when you have trouble encouraging yourself.)  I used to see a pattern of mistakes as time to “Stop and Reset”…in other words, “This isn’t working…start over with something else.”  The problem with that mentality is that it traps us in a loop of no growth.  It would be like planting a seed, watching it start to grow, then forgetting to water it one day.  So when the following day it looks a little dry and faded, you pluck it out of the dirt, throw it to the side, and plant another seed.  Then one day, your forget to water that seed…

This is the pattern a lot of us get in.  We throw out the small plant that starts to grow because we mess up one day.  Lately however, I’ve been looking at mistakes a little differently.  I now see a pattern of mistakes as “Pause, Rewind, Play Again.”  After screwing up, it’s not a time to start over…it’s a time to step back.  Even though we miss watering that seed one day, it simply means it’s time to fill the watering can back up and to go water the seed.  Then watch how the plant rejuvenates and continues to grow…and in this scenario, we can continue to work and nurture that plant (even when we screw up a day here and there) until one day it produces fruit.  How much fruit?  Well that depends on how often we’re screwing up and how much work we put into it.  Because even though we can continue on from every mistake, we should be learning from them and preparing ourselves so that the same mistakes become less and less frequent.

If you’re in a spot today where you feel like you keep banging your head against the wall over the same mistakes and errors, remember it’s just a sign that you’re human.  Just step back, take a deep breath, learn from the mistake, and push on!