Why?

Have you heard of a guy named Simon Sinek? If you have, then you probably already know where I am headed. If you haven't, then you'll want to watch this video. It's quite thought provoking.

If you said, "Chris, I don't want to watch a TED Talk right now..." That's totally cool. I'll sum it up for you. 

Essentially, Simon contrasts how businesses engage their customers. The truly impactful and successful businesses communicate to their customers by starting with their why. Everyone can very easily communicate what they do and how they do it, but to start with your why resonates with people on a deeper level that inspires action. Your why will be the fire that burns deep within you and cause you to reach beyond the person you understood yourself to be. Your why carries you over hills and through valleys of life into those wide open fields of contentment. Your why will stare the inevitable challenge of life dead on in the eyes, and simply say, "No."

I've had the opportunity at work to teach this concept to others and help them find their why. Ive also had the chance to share my why with them. And now, I would like to share my why with you. Since I was challenged to find my why sixteen months ago, it has not changed. How I respond to this why has evolved, but my why has remained constant. In fact, I'll let you see my why. Take a look down below.

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My Why.

Sarajane Gomez.

My wife has been and will continue to be my why. I mean, look at that face! 

Ready for all the feels?

My wife is one of the most amazing women I know. She is kind, patient, gracious, loving, fun, giving, encouraging, inspiring, strong, determined, and basically all around awesome. She is someone who will never demand more than she needs and lives in contentment with some of the simpler joys in life. She supports me in all of my ridiculous ideas. She laughs at all of my ridiculous jokes. She just deals with all of my ridiculousness in general. So why do I tell you all of this?

Because a woman like that deserves all the best that life can offer her, even though she is perfectly okay with what she has today. I don't want to look back on life and wish I would've worked harder or given that crazy idea an honest chance. Especially if that means that those things can lead to something better for my Sara.

Hence, here I am working to get back on track with photography. Within a month, I had 3-4 people approach me asking if I was still taking photos. My defeated reply was, "I'd love to take photos for you, but my gear got stolen in December. I'm sorry!" Then it dawned on me. I was turning away money because I was becoming a victim of my circumstances. (Expect a blog about that later) And you must understand, this was not about the money itself. It was about alleviating stress from my wife about bills. It was giving my wife that surprise date that she'd never dare ask for. It was taking her to the store and telling her to pick whatever new purse she wanted! (This has been a topic of conversation lately) This was giving the most giving person exactly what she'd never ask for because that's just who she is. 

I decided no more. I would not turn away someone who admired my work and was willing to help me give my wife what she deserved. As challenging as it was, I was fully capable of taking back what was taken from me. I didn't have to just sit on the sidelines. The only one who sidelined me was me.  So here I am today. A man determined to not take life sitting down. A man driven to be the provider God has called him to be. A man ignited with a fire to rise to his role to serve his wife to the best of his ability and beyond.

Today, it is photography. Tomorrow, it might be something new. (I always have ideas) A year from now, it might be something unexpected. But no matter how much time passes, one thing will always remain the same, my wife, my why.

So when you hit that Contact button at the top of this page, and ask me to come alongside you to capture life's moments, think of this post. When you invest your time and money in me is not going to me, just for my sake. It is going to my me for my wife's sake. You are helping me be the man I need to be. And for that, I must say thank you. Thank you from the bottom most part of my heart! 

Acting like a Toddler: Part 2

I felt the need to follow up with the Acting like a Toddler post. If you haven't read that post yet, check it out before reading this one  

So here we go...

Remember we talked about that skill toddlers have? They have that ability to see what someone else has, and then just walk up and take it. Remember how I sort of went after that behavior? Remember how I told you not to fall into the comparison trap? Good. 

Now I'm going to tell you that it is time to act like a toddler. That special skill toddlers possess is one we can learn from. If you want something someone else has, go get it! Go get it with everything you can muster up! Stop scrolling through Instagram wishing 'if only'. Start making moves to put yourself in the position you want to be. No one else is going to get it for you. No one will hand it to you. You have to be the one who says, "That's mine. I want it. I'm going after it."

Here are something's to keep in mind:

  1. Don't want it simply because it's someone else's. That's called envy. You have to want it because it's what you truly want.  
  2. Don't compare everyone else's level of success to your own. That may very well limit what you're capable of. 
  3. Don't compare their journey to yours because their journey is not yours.  
  4. Leave no doubt in your mind that you've given all that you could to your goal. No matter what it is, be sure that when your head hits the pillow, you know you have it your all!  
  5. Ask for help. There are so many people around you who have gone on your same journey. Take them out for a meal or coffee. Then ask them what's ahead and how to navigate through those turns. If you don't know someone, you know someone who knows someone. The quote comes to mind, "If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." 

So go get it. Whatever your 'it' is, go after it. I'll leave you with this thought. "Day one, or one day. You decide."

 

Break Your Own Rules

Routines are great! Consistent, effective routines are a sign of a disciplined life. There are tons of blogs (this one included) and books that make routine the topic of their conversation. A good morning routine can set the tone of your day for the better. They allow you to know what is coming, when it is coming, and how long it will be there. With all that is good in a routine, can they possibly be a bad thing?

If you're a sharp person, (and clearly you are) you know that I am leading this post to go answer that question with a 'no'. 

I challenge the ideas of routines only because I challenged mine earlier this week. So let's look at my daily rituals first.

  1. Wake up (obviously)
  2. Brush my teeth (I can't stand morning breath)
  3. Get dressed 
  4. Grab my gym bag, keys, wallet, and cell phone
  5. Start car, turn on podcast (right now, I am really enjoying The Order of Man)
  6. Take the 60-E to the 15-S
  7. Mobile order my Cold Brew as I pass the 91/15 Interchange
  8. Pick up my Cold Brew from the Starbucks off Cajalco
  9. Park in my usually row at work

Pretty standard right? No crazy routine hacks present. Just your basic 'get up and go' protocol. But earlier this week, I had added a little switch up. I nixed number 6 and instead I added a step. I had to drop off a video to client before going into work. This one adjustment caused a significant shift. This shift, though, was for the better! 

I found that I had about an extra thirty minutes in my morning. So instead of grabbing my usual coffee at my usual Starbucks, I decided to visit Augie's in Riverside. When I ordered my fancy latte, I ordered it to go with the intent of making a quick stop. Once the coffee was served, I decided to not rush out the door, but to sit and reflect. It was during that thirty minutes that I was able to write my last post. (You can read 'Acting like a Toddler' next)

It was this little shift in my morning that caused me to walk into work ready to take on whatever came my way! I felt unstoppable! I felt like nothing could slow me down! I felt, in a word, productive! 

Imagine the kinds of days you could have if you allowed yourself to break your own rules, and doing something different! Imagine what you could achieve if you could add thirty to sixty minutes of productivity a day! Would your '6 months from now self' thank you for taking exchanging a few snoozes sessions for putting in a little extra work toward your passion? I'm no soothsayer, but I would venture your '6 months from now self' would be grateful. 

Let me leave you with two thoughts:

  1. When you give what you've given, you get what you have gotten. 
  2. Small, daily decisions toward your goal will compound to larger, long term gains. 

So go ahead, break your own rules. You'll be thankful you did.

Acting like a Toddler

Toddlers have this special skill. They have a keen sense for seeing what others have, wanting that, and instantly disregarding what they have themselves. You've seen it. Kid plays with toy. Sees another kid's toy. Tosses the first toy to the side, and goes for the other kid's toy. And what happens when Kid #1 can't get Kid #2's toy? Pandemonium  ensues. A tantrum is thrown. Essentially, all hell breaks loose. And we very grown, mature adults have to step in to bring peace on earth again. We have to teach them how to behave and appreciate what we have because we would never do that. Right....?

Wrong.  

We all do it, even after we are well out of our terrible twos. The outburst may not be so dramatic, but we internalize our tantrums or they come out in a different forms. Feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, doubt, and fear are all symptoms of our less attention grabbing outburst. 

We see what someone else has, we wish we had it, and we beat ourselves up when we don't get it. Sound familiar? I know that is all too real for me.  

Nowadays, it seems like everyone is a photographer, knows a photographer or is on their way to be a photographer. (Thanks iPhone for putting a quality camera in everyone's pocket!) And social media doesn't help either. Don't get me wrong, I'm not the 'anti-social' media guy. In fact, it helped me achieve some things with photography that wouldn't have otherwise been possible. But social media creates a dangerous trap. We get into this game of comparison that causes an unhealthy thirst to be more than we are.  

I'm not saying don't have drive. Drive and hunger to grow into who you should be is great! But it is not great when it stems from an external motivator like wanting to be someone else. 

Find joy in who you are, where you are in your process and savor every moment of becoming their man or woman you have been called to be.  

I am in the midst of this process. I used to compare myself to so many people. I would wish I had their followers. I wanted so badly to have their engagement. I hoped people would give me the accolades others got for their photos. You know what that did? It trapped me within myself. I fell victim to the comparison trap. I was so caught up in growing to be like other people, that I forgot to grow into being me. 

Now don't get me wrong, I am still working to over come this. This first step to being freed from the comparison trap is appreciating who God made you to be. And I am constantly going back to step one. But each time I do, I am one step closer to finding my way out, forever. 

So come with me on the journey of appreciating who God made you to be. It won't happen over night, but unless you start, it will never happen.  

On to the Next One

So now you can consider yourself officially up to speed. We are no longer looking backward, but forward. Forward to what can be. Forward to new possibilities. Because we know that the only failure in getting knocked down is staying down. 

Now what you ask? Allow me to tell you!

I am getting after it again! I am grateful for the resources I have to get going again. Now it time to put those to use. I am now booking shoots for whatever your needs may be. Graduation photos? Yep! Family portraits? Chyeah. Maternity pics? You bet! Photos for your website? Absol-toot-ly! A video for you business? Let's do it! (Yeah, I recently have been doing videos now!)

The next shoots I book will go to fund restoring the equipment that was taken from me. So let's help each other out. I can get you some awesome photos, and you can help me get some awesome gear! Just a great, big cycle of giving and love!

So what do you say? Can I help you help me? Click here to find out how!

Not Staying Down

So given my situation (if you don't know what I mean, head to the "Don't Call It a Comeback" post) I had two options.  

1. Accept the fact that my photography was done and find some other creative outlet. Which I thought I had found through playing guitar at my church. But I didn't have the passion and draw to it like I did photography.  

2. I could not take this lying down and move forward to create with what I was at my disposal. Which I didn't do for some time. 

It wasn't until I was approached to create a video for my gym that I saw the opportunity take option two. So I took to using what I had; a good ole iPhone 7.  

Oh and remember when I didn't have a laptop? I had to use my wife's, which present a challenge since she was in school and we had to share one device.  

But I made it work despite what I thought would be challenges that couldn't be overcome. Lo and behold, they could be overcome! I just had to get after them to see what would happen.  

Now I am ready to press on with a renewed drive to pursue a passon even though I thought I was ill-equipped. Little by little, I am gathering things back to get me to the next stage. A laptop we thought that had gone to MacBook heaven fired up and runs great! A little RAM upgrade and a new battery, and she is purring like a cute, little kitty. A little bit of birthday cash led to the funds to get a new set of lenses (thank you Best Buy for your awesome deal!) I have been offered camera bodies to use in the mean time! I am gaining traction on the road to getting back in the game!

You may ask, "Chris, don't you need clients to use that equipment for?" And the answer is obviously "yes!" And that is something I have. I've had requests for shoots (both video and photo) and for video editing.  

Lesson here? Don't let your circumstances dictate what you do. You can take the hand you're dealt and go all-in, though the odds seem stacked against you. You'll never know if you can beat the dealer until you play the hand.  

Don't Call it a Comeback

You know how they say you should 'expect the unexpected.' I should've listened. I never thought it would happen to me. Call it arrogance. Call it naivety. Whatever you call it, it was definitely unexpected.

December 2016 brought on a first that I would've preferred to go without in my life. I got a call from my wife right as I left from work for the day. She was worked up and emotional. When I asked what was wrong, she told me that we had a our house broken into. Our cute little love nest had been violated. My mind rushed to images of overturned tables, shattered glass, and an empty home. Luckily, that wasn't the case. But there were a few other cases that was missing. My laptop case. My iPad case. My camera case. Three very important cases, and their contents, were not in the house. Someone decided they should have the very tools that I use to create and generate a side income. 

Thank God my wife wasn't home when it happened. I am glad nothing else was taken. I am very appreciative that the thieves at least locked the door on the way out as they left. I mean, they didn't want anyone breaking in right?

I thought that was the end of my photo endeavors. I would just go on with shooting any memories on my iPhone and the world would go on. But that didn't last.

I was presented the chance to shoot a video for my gym. I had very minimal experience with video. Photos were more my thing. And I lacked a very important piece of the creative process, a camera. But I decided I wasn't going to let equipment be my limiter. And the gym owners were okay taking a risk with me shooting the footage on my iPhone. 

My wife still had a laptop, so I was able to edit the footage and produce a decent promo video with minimal equipment. Since then, I have had others approach me to produce and edit other videos. Then I was approached to shoot portraits for a few families. That is when I decided I wasn't going to let something external dictate what I did with my life. 

So here we are. The beginning again. I have recognized my creative gift and passion, and I am not going to let a 'lack' of resources tell me I can't do what I love. 

Come with me on the next leg of this adventure!