The business of dreaming big. How to stop fearing imperfection and start living
A career as an entrepreneur is seldom the safe path lit with streetlights — embarking on a self-propelled career instead often feels like the unlit walking trail scattered with fast food wrappers, discarded coffee cups and dark shadows. Most take one look at the path, imagine what’s hiding in the shadows and walk away from what could be a liberating, successful career as a creative.
Now recognized as one of the best wedding photographers in the world, Jasmine Star started off on the safe path with a scholarship-secured law school venture. But after her mother’s cancer diagnosis, Jasmine stopped focusing on what was hiding in the shadows and let herself dream. Now a photographer and small business consultant, Jasmine is working to give future entrepreneurs the courage to do crazy things, like start a photography business without a camera and otherwise turn a passion into a profitable business.
The secret? Letting go of the fear of imperfection and taking that first step.
Admitting you are unhappy is okay.
Had Jasmine never allowed herself to finally admit that she was unhappy in law school, she might be working stuffed in some law office. After her mother’s cancer relapsed in 2005, she finally admitted law school wasn’t the right fit — and then dared to start dreaming out loud.
Stop expecting to launch with the same skills as someone famous in your field. You’ll be bad (at first), and that’s okay.
While Jasmine had Annie Leibowitz in her eyesight, even Jasmine admits she was a horrible photographer when she started out. In fact, people even refused her offers to take their photos for free. There will be missteps at the beginning of the path to entrepreneurship — and that’s not only okay, but good. Can you really learn by starting out thinking that you’re already the best of the best?
Don’t let not having what you need hold you back.
When Jasmine decided to leave law school, she felt a pull to start working as a photographer — but didn’t even own a camera. Instead of quitting before even getting started, she started learning photography from the University of Google and YouTube and rented everything she needed, from the camera body down to the memory card.
Don’t be afraid to take the first step when you don’t know the ending.
Sure, after Jasmine left law school, working as a professional photographer was part of that dream. But empowering other entrepreneurs as a consultant? That wasn’t even on her radar. The journey, she says, doesn’t have to be linear or even predictable. “There’s nothing wrong with not knowing the end when you take the first step,” Jasmine says. “It’s one thing to start moving in one direction and realize you are on the wrong path, and another thing to never take the first step.”
Recognize that the wrong steps lead to the right one.
There’s no such thing as an entrepreneur that made it to the top without a single mistake. Jeff Bezos wrote off millions in losses from failures like the Fire Phone. At one point in his life, Walt Disney couldn’t afford to pay the rent. Steve Jobs dropped out of college. Successful entrepreneurs aren’t perfect — but they do use their mistakes as a building block for something even better.
Aspiring for perfection will only set you up for failure.
For Jasmine, the failures early on in her venture weren’t necessarily due to the images — but a desire to be perfect. The growth of social media has only ramped up that pressure for perfection even more. But perfection is impossible and aiming that high only makes the criticism impossible to bear. “Being on the other end of mass criticism, when you hear it, it strips you down to the raw sense of you,” Jasmine says. “…It’s the aspiration for perfection that really messes with your head and messes with your heart and causes you to make bad decisions. The image is going to be the thing that takes you down — your core is what’s going to make you sore.”
Entrepreneurship is a journey, but would-be business owners that take that first step expecting perfection will only fall — hard. Recognizing entrepreneurship is a journey riddled with potholes with a destination that may be occluded by fog allows creatives to take that first step without waiting for the perfect moment that’s never going to come. As Jasmine says, “To do big and crazy things, you have to have big and crazy dreams. You have one wild and crazy beautiful life and it’s so short — what do you want to do with it? Do you want to waste every minute wondering about what could be or do you want to ask, ‘how to where I want to go next as fast as possible?’”
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