When I was a senior in high school, I had no idea what I wanted to “be” when I grew up. I took all sorts of career placement tests, talked to school counselors, visited career fairs, and talked to my parents, but no one thing jumped out at me. When I left for college that fall, I was still on the fence. In my first meeting with my advisor, I was persuaded to declare English as my major, at his urging – after all, I loved to write! I figured it made sense and went with it. To make a long story short, I ended up with a degree in Accounting and an Art minor.
I always knew I wanted to pursue photography, but since I graduated at the top of my class with a nearly perfect 3.9 GPA, I figured I needed to do something more “academically worthy” of my time. Oddly enough, that “academic pursuit” resulted in a lot of wasted time: wasted time taking classes that didn’t fit my major, and years working in a business I had no passion for.
If you have read any of my previous posts, you might know that I love to plant flowers. The funny thing about flowers is that you just can’t plant any flower anywhere. Some need shade. Some need full sun. Some need to be watered every day, given plant food, pruned and cared for on a very regular basis, while some you can practically dig up and throw somewhere else, and they will just keep on blooming! My point is this: just like you have to know what a flower needs for it to blossom, you have to know yourself in order to set yourself up for success!
Last night, I was sitting around a campfire talking to some friends about left-brain vs. right brain tendencies. If you aren’t familiar with the theory of left-brain vs. right-brain dominance, it basically assumes that each side of the brain controls different types of thinking. Individuals who tend to be more analytical, logical and objective are said to be left-brain dominant, while those who are more creative, thoughtful and subjective are labeled as right-brained. Regardless of your view on this theory, one thing is clear: we all have strengths and weaknesses.
Regardless of what your strengths and weaknesses are, the good news is that unlike plants, we can change. While you have to know yourself to succeed, you can also “bloom where you’re planted”. If you know that you are a master in creativity, but struggle horribly to stay on top of your accounting, you can either work to get better at it, or hire someone to do it! If you are shy and struggle with social skills, you can attend networking events to get out of your comfort zone. You can get better at being attentive to detail by attending workshops, and practicing, practicing, practicing! You can mature and adapt.
Take a few moments right now to list some of your strengths. Then, list some areas you’d like to improve in. Outline some specific goals for ways you plan to grow in your areas of weakness. Also remember that change takes time, and lots of work. Successful people never stop learning, so don’t opt for the path of least resistance. The struggle is worth it!
Shannan Painter is a newbie photographer who has spent the last 5 years working with the left side of her brain helping small businesses organize their accounting and taxes. She decided to take the big step and pursue her dream of becoming a professional photographer in 2013 after adding a third boy to her house that was already full of super heroes, trucks, and sports equipment. She and her husband, who is a local TV meteorologist, play pick-up games of basketball in their free time and like to take road trips to Lake Minnetonka with all 3 boys, and their dog Growler. Visit her on Facebook!