Episode 14- Who Are You Proving Wrong?

Here is the transcription to Episode 14- Who Are You Proving Wrong?

So who are you proving wrong? Now, I know in this day and age there’s not supposed to be any negativity. There’s only supposed to be positivity, and that’s the energy that’s supposed to flow out of you. But in reality, in truth, there is some negativity when somebody doesn’t believe in you. At least there is for me. Now, I might be alone in this, but it is for me. Now, I try to be as positive and as generous as I possibly can be, but there are times in our life that somebody comes along that doesn’t believe in you, and there’s a lot of people that don’t believe in you, but there’s people that come in your life that don’t believe in you and tell you they don’t believe in you. So I’m asking you, what do you do about those people in your life, in your head? 

What do you do about those people? Now, when I first started on my freelance journey way, way back years and years ago, the first thing I wanted to do, the first career I wanted to do was photography and not just photography. I wanted to be a professional sports photographer. That’s what I wanted to do. I was a huge sports fan and like I had said earlier, I had failed everything else I had done. So I’m going to go and do what it is that I really want to do, even though I have no clue how to get there. I know somebody does it. I know when I watch television there is somebody on the field taking pictures and getting paid for it and I’m wondering if they can do it, why can I give that a shot? So my mother’s friend Leslie introduced me to a photographer and he was a partner with her husband in this photography business. 

It was a portrait studio. They did your family portraits. They did still lifes. They did all this stuff inside of the studio inside of their office. So I went to him and I went to his studio and I went to ask him about being a sports photographer. That’s what I wanted to do when he was the only photographer that I knew. So at this point I was so new that I had just bought my camera. I didn’t even know how to use my camera, so there’s no reason for him to believe in me. So I went to him wild eyed and excited about what I wanted to do. I explained it out to him. I told him what my dream was. I told them, you know what I was willing to do to get there. I had nothing to lose. I was gonna put everything I could into this. 

And he dumped a cold bucket of ice water on me. Not literally but figuratively on my head. And he told me, forget it. He said, just forget it. He said, Vince, everybody wants to be a sports photographer. Everybody wants to be on the field and wants to travel and do that job. That’s what all these photographers want to do. And he said, getting paid to be on the field with the athletes. I remember him saying this to me, it’s as hard as it is to be an athlete. That’s what he told me. He said, you have no shot at this. Here’s my recommendation for you. I think you should do portraits. I think you should do still lifes. I think you should do what we’re doing here. They’re steady work here. They’re steady business. It’s a pipe dream and you should do something more realistic is what he said to me. 

And I nodded along with him because what was I going to say? I knew nothing. He was the pro, but I walked out of there. I was so angry and I remember walking out of that door and it was a sunny afternoon and I remember walking past the window with studio and seeing his back to me as I walked out of the front room and into his office and faded away. And I remember giving him a finger gesture that my kids wouldn’t be proud of right now because I was so discouraged by what he said to me and maybe he had my best interests at heart. Maybe he really was looking out for me. But what he did was he crushed my dream. He said in one conversation that I couldn’t do what I wanted to do and I walked to my car and I was filled with anger. 

I was filled with frustration and I felt like that I just wasted my time. Is he right or should I just tell him, forget him and do what I’m going to do and prove him wrong and I wasn’t even inside of my car before I decided that I was going to prove him wrong as I drove away from that parking lot. I remembered that somebody was getting paid to do this. Somebody was on the field doing this. How did they do it? How they get there? Who did they have to meet? What did their portfolio look like? How much work did they have to put in if it’s really that hard, how hard was it now? He gave me his opinion, but he didn’t give me any of those answers because he had no idea. Maybe he wanted to do it, but he didn’t get there and this was his way of protecting me, or maybe this was his way of feeling better by assuring that if I don’t do it, then it doesn’t make him feel bad that he didn’t do it. 

So I decided immediately not to forget him, not to forget his advice, but to use his advice to propel me, use his advice as fuel to get what I wanted to get to. So every night that I went to a ballgame, every night that I paid $5 for a ticket at Shea Stadium and got into a game and I snuck down to the front row to take pictures. Every time I did that where there was no reward, where nobody paid me, where I was just building a portfolio where I was just going to meet the photographer as well as just looking to get just a little bit better every night. If I got discouraged, I saw his face. I remember sitting in his studio, I remember sitting on that stool and I remember him lecturing me that this was not possible and I used that as fuel. I use that as motivation to not stop. 

When I got rejected for a hundred free internships, I still saw his face. I saw his face telling me that I couldn’t do it. So I kept going and I kept going and I kept going and as a little bit of success continued, I felt myself starting to prove him wrong. He was my motivation and that parlayed into a gig shooting National Hockey League games as an intern, not making any money. I was doing all the stuff that he said I couldn’t do. I just wasn’t getting paid yet. And that was the next step. And that continued for years. And I can tell you for years, I never forgot his face. I wasn’t mad at him any longer. I was just using him to propel me to where I needed to get to. And that fuel and anger stayed inside of me for eight years, eight years. 

I remembered him for eight years. It fueled me and it went away as I walked through the corridors of the Louisiana Superdome. Camera’s on my back. Camera’s on my shoulder as I walked onto the field, the bright lights of Superbowl XXXVI, and that was the last night that I used him as fuel. That was the night that instead of being angry at him and using him as motivation, that I walked onto the field, I stepped by the end zone where Tom Brady was throwing warmup passes, which turned out to be his very first Super Bowl victory. And instead of being angry, I was thankful and I thought about him and I thanked him. I thanked him to myself for giving me the motivation for giving me the fuel, for giving me the drive to prove him wrong so that I can go and live the dream that I wanted to live. So if there is somebody that doesn’t believe in you, if there’s somebody that doesn’t believe that you can do it, you really want to do, you can be angry. You could be frustrated, but use it to your advantage. Use it to your advantage until you get where you need to get to and then thanked them for not believing in you, so they helped you get where you needed to get to. Thank you so much and I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

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