Dec 5, 2012

being authentic - easier than it sounds

If you are your authentic self, 
then you have no competition
 -Scott Stratten author of UnMarketing

I saw this quote for the first time this past year. It appeared in my path within the same week that I had been speaking of this same topic with my coach, Ivy (of Slater Success Coaching). I shared it with her immediately and printed a copy to hang on my inspiration board in my studio. It reminds me as often as I need it that I have a very special gift to share with the world and I am the only one who can do it.

This can be challenging when what you do - whether it's writing, making a particular craft, flower arranging, photography, restoring vintage cars- is popular and your clients are happy about what you do and say so publicly, it send the message that what you're doing is such a good idea that those with some of the same skills decide that they, too want a piece of the pie. Which is totally fine. Ramit Sethi once said that "if there's competition, that's great - it means there's a market".

The most difficult part of that is that while there is totally room for competition, there is no way to control the quality of said competition. This can end badly for consumers and it can be frustrating when explaining differences in quality of products or services to prospective clients and inevitably confusing for those clients if they are being given poor or conflicting information.

Enter the magic of authenticity.

Enter the magic of authenticity. Those who come after the trailblazers, the trendsetters, the industry leaders - they are rarely clear on who they are, they are often even less clear on why they are doing what they're doing. There's often proclamations such as, "it's always been my dream" or "I have a passion for..." but there is no authentic connection to the WHY behind what they do. Without having a genuine, heartfelt connection to what they offer, there is a serious lack of sustainability which inevitably leaves the client and the service provider feeling like something's missing.

What is missing?? Authenticity. I can tell you that for me, as a child of very young parents, we were very poor and couldn't afford luxuries like cameras so there are very few photographs of me growing up. I keep that feeling very close to my heart every day that I go to work - whether it's a day I deal directly with my clients or not... It affects every part of what I do for them and to me, that has huge value. It keeps me focused on the elements that brought me to my profession.

I mean, if it looks like a duck 
and sounds like a duck...

Occasionally, my clients-turned-friends call or email me with reports of what other photographers in the area are doing because it reminds them of what they've seen me do... now, granted, there is nothing new under the sun (especially in the world of photography) but it does not feel good to think that others are generating bodies of work that contain elements that are uncomfortably similar to things I've created. One *could* say that mimicry is the most sincere form of flattery but artists - last time I checked- are (as Erykah Badu once said) "sensitive about their shit".  I mean, if it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck...

But. Regardless of whether ripoff-ery is going on or not, whether it feels like shit or not, what doesn't change is the reasons the original art is being made and the reasons the "uncomfortably similar" art is being made. My clients' sessions are all designed with a host of priorities, stories & experiences in mind. I create each one for them. Yes, I take inspiration from the work of other artists I admire from around the world but what I do with and for my clients is uniquely done so for them.

You are here to do important work

In the end, the work that is being generated from a place of authenticity and self awareness is the work that is sustainable over time. By being 100% real, honest & genuine, you dont' have to worry about forgetting what or who you are (stop trying to be someone/thing you're not) and you certainly don't have to worry about anyone copying you because you cannot be duplicated. You are here to do important work and when you come at it in this way, you will find your truth and unending joy. I know I do.

 “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” ~ Dr. Seuss


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