St. Augustine Family Photographer | Starting With Why
I don’t know how to drive a stick shift. It has always been a life goal to learn, but I’ve never been able to master it. In college, I had a friend who had a manual transmission and she was willing to let me practice. So we went to a local parking garage and went to the roof where no one had parked. I got in the driver seat and she started explaining how to use the clutch while shifting. You had to apply the right amount of gas while shifting and holding down the clutch. I was only able to shift successfully once or twice. The rest of the time I just stalled.
I recently took a hiatus from blogging. I just stopped. It was hard to come up with things to say. I lacked direction and was in the midst of stalling. There would be days I would wake up and know I was doing what I wanted to do, and then sometimes I would question everything. There were great opportunities but I lacked the motivation to do anything about them. That is not a great quality in any business owner.
Leah Remillet, a photographer in Seattle hosted a free webinar titled, “New Year, New You.” I had some free time so I decided to tune in. The underlying mission of her webinar was to make us focus on why we are doing what we do. She pulled a lot of information from a book called “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek. In the book, Sinek uses the image of a target with three sets of rings. Each ring is named: what, how, and why. Everyone in business knows “what” they do, some people know “how” they do it, and few people know “why” they do it. He says that most people have “what” as their center circle. Then “how,” and “why” is on the furthest ring. Doing business this way can cause you to have a lack of motivation, direction, and ultimately cause you stall.
So to help you visualize I created two diagrams. The first one is how I used to think. My “what” was to take photos. My “how” was photography and my 5D Mark II obviously. My “why” was to make money and support my family. For starters, your “Why” cannot be profit because profits are a result. No one but myself would wake up and say; “I can stand behind Danielle Brooks Photography because she wants to make money for herself.” I had a lot of thinking to do.
I gave my “why” a lot of thought. What was important to me? Why do I want to take photos of families and high school seniors? Here’s what I came up with. I’m a photographer because I want to show women how beautifully they were created. When I show women shots on the back of my camera and they suddenly smile with confidence, that’s why I do what I do. I want to eventually be a stay at home mom and working from home as a photographer allows me the freedom to do so. That’s why I do what I do. I want to prove to myself I have what it takes to be successful. That’s why I do what I do.
So instead of my “why” being to make money and support my family, my “why” is this: Danielle Brooks is a driven woman who sheds light on the true beauty of her clients, bestows confidence on anyone who steps in front of her lens, and supports her family while she does it. How do I do it? By producing beautiful images of my clients. My “what” is photography. That is something my clients can stand behind. They know that it is my heartfelt mission to make them feel confident and look great. That is what sets me apart from other photographers.
Suddenly I find myself being able to shift from first gear to second gear without stalling in between. I have a purpose for my business and everything else falls into place. When opportunity come knocking, if it doesn’t align with my “why’ I know I can pass, but if it matches my mission, I know it’s something I can pursue. If you find yourself stalling like I did, I encourage you to start with your “why”. It is the perfect transition from easing off the clutch, shifting, and pressing the gas pedal.