14 Essential Lessons That Will Change Your Life Today!

In life you really have no idea where you might end up.  It’s much the same in business too.

Never in a million years would I have expected to have been on a plane to Nashville to collaborate with some of my biggest idols in the photography community.  As you can imagine, when I got the invitation from Zach Gray about 12 days before the event, it was kind of a no-brainer – I needed to go.

The Gray Summit 2015

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The event, titled “Gray Summit 2015” was a hand-picked group of photography industry leaders and educators to all get together under 1 roof for 3 days to learn new ideas, get help, and offer help to one another.  The group included: Zach & Jody Gray, Katelyn James Photography, Amy & Jordan, Luke & Cat Photography, Jared Platt, Jared Bauman of ShootDotEdit, Matt & Carissa Kennedy, Courtney of Click it up a Notch and yours truly.

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It was quite the rock-star line-up to say the least, and in many ways, I felt like the outsider…but I certainly didn’t let that prevent me from going and I was truly honored to have been given the opportunity!

The 3 days spent together were truly amazing and everyone left the “Gray residence” with big ideas and new found friendships.

On the flight home, I recapped the event and all of the major takeaways I took from the trip.  I learned a lot on this trip…not just about photography, or business, but life and myself.

I felt compelled to share these thoughts with you.

  1. Success is earned and not given – If you want to be successful, it takes work – a lot of it!  Everyone in the group has plenty of “success” but everyone literally has worked their butt off to get to where they now are.  Each day during the summit kicked off around 8:30 am and went till midnight or 1 am – working and talking business the whole time!
  2. Together we can accomplish more than just on our own – It’s easy to be a lone ranger but getting outside perspective and ideas is the fastest way to proof out an idea and even explore new ideas that you wouldn’t have considered or thought about.
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  3. We are all ordinary people – Tens of thousands of photographers have looked up to these photographers for years (myself included), but they are normal people just like you and I.  In fact, they were among some of the nicest and most genuine people I’ve ever met.
  4. You never know where you will end up – As mentioned above, I never would have guessed I would have ended up sitting in that room, a part of that “group”…but I did.  Always keep pushing forward and simply start conversation with people, you never know where one conversation can lead you!
  5. You have a gift (even if you don’t know it) – It’s easy to think you don’t have to much to offer, but that’s just your own lack of self confidence.  You DO have plenty to offer, plenty to help, inspire, educate and even make a real difference.
  6. You are who your network is – Surround yourself with people who share common goals & values and you will benefit.  If you want to be a better photographer, start hanging out with photographers who are better than you, it’ll rub off on you.
  7. You can’t pick your family but you can pick your friends – A follow on thought to the point above, you actually have a choice of who you can hang out with, so make sure to hang out with the right people.  People that will hold you accountable, support you, inspire you and help you grow.
  8. If you are going to think – think big – It’s easy (and natural) for us all to underestimate our talents but that’s just silly.  YOU are capable of so much more than you give yourself credit for.  Think big and shoot for the stars, if you really want it, you’ll get it!
  9. Group think is very powerful – Have you ever told a group of really smart people exactly what you are struggling with?  You’d be shocked at the results and amount of great ideas and help you will get.  So if you are stuck in a rut, don’t be afraid to ask for help – and if you don’t have a group or team around you…put one together or join a photography community with a strong leader who can help get you to the next level quicker.
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  10. Lose any ego – Part of the reason our “event” was such a success was there was no “ego” in the room.  We were all there to help each other, not impress each other.  Egos get in the way and aren’t cool anyway so ditch em!
  11. All success stories also have failures – It’s easy to think that success stories came easy, truth is that very rarely ever happens.  Most successes also had plenty of failures.  That was true for every one of us in the room.  The key is to keep pushing and not give-up.  When you give-up, that’s when you fail.
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  12. Don’t allow perceptions to get in the way of truths – Don’t make judgments on people.  It’s that simple. Show up with an open mind and not allow any preconceived perceptions cloud reality.
  13. Get outside of your comfort zone – You know those things in life that make us a bit uncomfortable?  Yea…those are often the things that can lead to the biggest opportunities.  Don’t allow your level of “comfort” to control you and hold you back.
  14. Seize opportunities – When you get a good opportunity, you need to take it.  Make it happen. This trip wasn’t cheap for me.  I didn’t know anyone.  There were plenty of reasons that I could have “passed” on this event but I knew that this was an amazing opportunity and I’d be a fool not to go.  I went with an open mind and without any expectations…I just knew nothing bad would come from the opportunity so I pushed some plans around to make the trip work.

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In Summary

Always put your best foot forward and don’t be afraid to work your butt off to get to where you want to go.  Make sure to surround yourself in a community of like minded others that can help propel you to your goal faster than you otherwise could do on your own.  You have a gift and the world needs more of you!

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Did you enjoy this post?  I’d love for you to share this on Facebook and let me know in the comments which lesson above resonated with you the most!

Chat soon,
Cole